Compost tea & treats for the chooks..

Posted August 11th, 2013 by Rob Bob : )»

Compost/worm castings tea...
After a long break we have started to make up worm casting teas again.. I think it makes a great replacement for some of the commercial liquid fertilisers that you can buy & best of all it cost next to nix.. We stopped when our worm casting supply took a dive a few years ago & never really got back into it.. Thought we would give it another shot as it is a great way to add more beneficial microbes & nutrients into the patch that can be found in both compost & worm castings..
It is a very easy process that that only needs a few things to get you started..
To brew up a batch of tea I like to use 10-12L of water in 15L bucket, 1kg of nicely broken down compost or worm castings put in an old stocking or a paint strainer bag, & then add about 100ml of unsulphured molasses to the water.. I would recommend using tank water if you can but if you have none available you can use town water that has been left to gas off the chlorine (chlorine kills microbes) for 24 hours.. I am lucky enough to be able to source water from the aquaponic system that also contains a few extra fishy nutrients..
The basic way of brewing it up involves mixing the molasses through the water then adding the compost/castings stocking/bag into the water first thing in the morning.. You then give it a good stir every few hours to help keep the water oxygenated so the microbes in there can feed on the molasses.. It is also a good idea to get in there & give the bag a good massage to help the compost/castings leach their goodness into the water.. Late in the afternoon you take the bag out, give it a good squeeze so all the tasty tea flows back into the bucket & there you have some great tea your plants will love..
The way we brew it up is slightly different.. The ingredients are the same as above but I like to add an aquarium air compressor to the mix to pump a lot air into the brew.. These can be bought quite cheaply & make the job of aerating a brew a lot easier..
Adding extra air to the brew encourages the growth of the aerobic bacteria in the mix & can also make it rather frothy as you can see.. A bit like a warm cast cappuccino.. When brewing it this way I like to suspend the bag in the tea & place the air stone directly underneath it.. A bit of saved hay bale twine & a stick is the easiest way to rig that up..
Applying these brews to the garden is easy.. All I do is add one part tea to 2 parts water in the watering can & spot water the plants.. You could add it neat to the beds as there is no supper concentrated nutrients that will harm the plants but I like to spread it around so the microbes get a chance to set up shop throughout the patch..
The next batch I make up I will be adding a splash of "Green Manure/Comfrey tea" to add some extra goodies to the brew..
It will be interesting to see if the aerobic bacteria in the brew will "sweeten" the smell of the green manure brew..
Shall be posting on how we use this compost tea to "activate" the biochar next week.. This blog post would of turned into an epic otherwise ;)»

Helping out...
During the week the girls & I went to help set up a wicking bed..
This one has been planted out with some kale that will be used by its new owner for juicing.. I accidently damaged the top ½ of the IBC that was going to be made into another bed.. So shall be taking over one of ours as a replacement this week hopefully.. Good thing the "customer" is understanding & doesn't hold it against her son ;)»

Treating the chooks...
Don't have to mow the lawn here often during Winter but when we do the girls love the clippings..
They get tossed into the girls day pen for them to scratch through & peck over for a couple of days providing them with some extra greens, bugs & grub.. The chook pen itself is normally lined with 1 foot of bedding straw (deep litter method) as it helps to give a good carbon to nitrogen balance & helps to break the manure down.. But more importantly it helps to keep the smell down which is an added bonus when living in suburbia..
I have started to collect & screen the scrapings from the pen so it can be added to the new beds going in out the front.. I am also thinking of adding a few handful's to the next batch of castings tea I make up just to give it a good chook poo boost..

A few pickings from the patch...

This lot of pickings went into green & chopped garden salads.. Also added some lightly toasted crushed macadamia nuts, along with a creamy honey mustard dressing to the chopped salad to give it a bit of a zing.. Am really liking the semi flowering cauliflowers as they make it a lot easier to cut the heads into bite size pieces ;)»
The original broccoli are finely starting to slow down in the side shoot production & we also picked the last of the cauliflower this week.. We have one more crop of each in the ground at the moment & hope we get to pick some before the warmer weather hits..

Finally harvested the purple Okinawan sweet potatoes from the barrel under the back stairs..
Not looking so healthy as it was left in there far too long & split a bit.. They were not as purple as the first 2 larger roots we picked from there a while back either.. Also spotted a bit of nematode damage on a few of them.. Our eldest used all but one in a roast veggie salad that went great with some leftover roast pork..

Has been a busy week with another flat out one coming up.. 2 of the girls are having birthdays this week & I hope to get a few wicking beds into place in the front yard & planted out..Hope everyone has had a great weekend in the patch & has a great week as well..
Rob..

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