Make Easy Compost Tea

A barrel of manure or compost and some water combine to provide great nutrients to garden plants with compost tea.
Ed Bowser Sr.
April/May 2007
Add to My MSN

Compost tea can help those indoor plants get the nutrients they need.
Photo courtesy Pixavril/Fotolia

Content Tools

My grandfather was a blacksmith in Apollo, Pa. As a young boy, my father had the responsibility of cleaning up the hoof trimmings and horse manure. He put them into a big barrel that was sawed in half with drain holes drilled into the bottom edge.

Grandpa told Dad to plant tomato, pumpkin and squash seeds around the perimeter of the barrel. Every few days, Dad would pour 5 gallons of water into the barrel. The water would soak into the floor sweepings and then out through the holes in the bottom of the barrel, feeding the garden vegetables with nutrients. It was an easy way to make compost tea.

I decided to try this technique in my vegetable garden. I didn’t have a barrel, so I used small 2-gallon plastic containers with drain holes in the bottom — the kind that nursery plants are sold in. Instead of manure and hoof trimmings, I used year-old compost made from grass clippings and leaves. I placed a tub between my ‘Beefsteak’ and ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes. Each day I poured a bucket of water into the small tubs and the compost tea came out the drain holes to water and feed the plants. In September, we started to get 2 1/2-pound tomatoes that were 7 inches in diameter. One was large enough to make six BLTs. My grandfather sure knew what he was doing!

Post a comment below.


Ricky Pena
2/24/2012 1:08:14 AM
Do you let it sit are do you stir it and how long do you do it for when my gradfater died so did how to make the tea can you email it to me and some picture step by step

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.