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Microbial Tea Brewing: Supercharge Your Crop with Bio-Fuel Featured

Your plants will enjoy some microbial tea time. Your plants will enjoy some microbial tea time.


Microbial teas have a long standing in agricultural history. Some of the first fertilizer solutions were brewed by soaking manures or other organic matter in a burlap sack in a barrel of water. After soaking for several days, this “tea” was then watered into the soil for plants to feed upon. Even today, with all of the nutrient technologies that are available to growers, there are lots of benefits to be reaped by brewing aerobic microbial teas for root drenches or foliar applications on indoor and outdoor crops.

The end result of brewing and applying these beneficial biological teas to your plants is healthier plants that can grow faster and yield bigger. And while this is the idea behind many nutrient solutions, brewing living, biological teas creates a solution that is filled with active microbiological life forms that will assist your crop.

Live micro-organisms can serve a variety of beneficial functions to plants, including the secretion of growth enhancing compounds, protection from nutrient disorders, preventing and controlling many common crop diseases, enhancing natural flavors and aromas, and the list goes on.

This recipe gives you a good starting point, allowing you to experiment with beneficial microbial teas for your favorite plants, both indoors and out.

If you grow in soil or soilless methods like coco coir or commercial peat mixes, you can dilute the aerobic tea and water directly at the roots. For hydroponics growers utilizing DWC (Deep Water Culture), the brew can be diluted with fresh water and applied as a foliar spray so not to foul up the roots or growing system, especially in warmer growing environments.

Making your own mixtures can be an easy and inexpensive process, and you may already have all the materials you need at hand. To brew your own, you can start with the following:

• 5 gallon bucket
• De-chlorinated water
• Earth worm castings
• Dried kelp meal
• Carbohydrate source (Bud Candy, Carboload, Unsulphated Molasses, etc)
• Microbial Source (Piranha, Voodoo Juice and Tarantula)
• Source of B vitamins (B-52, Nirvana, Organic B)
• Digestive enzyme (SensiZym)
• Aquarium air pump and air stones
• Old pillow case or un-printed t-shirt and zap strap (to make the “tea bag”)

1. Ensure that the bucket has been scrubbed and sterilized. Adding one part 29% Hydrogen Peroxide to ten parts water (or the same ratio with bleach) makes a good cleaning solution. Ensure that the bucket is thoroughly rinsed with lots of fresh water afterwards so that no chemical residues that can harm the beneficial microbes are left behind.

2. Add about four U.S. Gallons (15 L) of water to the bucket. Beware that if the water contains any chlorine, it will seriously harm the growth of the beneficial microbes you want to cultivate for application to your crop. Use R.O. (Reverse Osmosis) treated water, rain water or good quality well water to avoid the chlorine, or aerate your tap water with an air pump and air stones for 24 hours, which will help some types of chlorine added at municipal treatment centers dissipate as a gas.

3. Drop your air stone(s) into the water, then connect to the air pump and switch on to aerate/bubble the water. Allow the water to warm up to at least 65°F, or room temperature, before proceeding with the next steps.

4. In your clean cloth “tea bag,” add 2 to 4 cups of earth worm castings. Good quality earth worm castings should appear black and smell very rich and “earthy.” Next, add 2 to 4 TBSP of dried kelp meal to the bag. Tie-off the tea bag with a zap strap so that all of the material will stay in the bag and not fall out into the water. Leave lots of space
for the materials in the bag to expand. You don’t want it to be tight; loose and floppy is preferred. Set the bag aside.

5. Into the room temperature, aerated and de-chlorinated water, add the liquid nutrient supplements and beneficial microorganisms. When using Advanced Nutrients products, you can apply the products listed to the four gallons in the bucket at the following suggested rates for brewing:
• 60 ml SensiZym
• 60 ml each, Liquid Piranha, Voodoo Juice and Liquid Tarantula
• 60 ml of either B-52, Nirvana or Organic B
• 60 ml of either Bud Candy, Carboload or Unsulphated Molasses
If adding powdered formulations, apply 10 grams of each per 4 US Gals

6. After adding the above ingredients, gently stir into the bucket with a clean whisk or large spoon. Try stirring six times clockwise, then six times counterclockwise, and repeat several times. Think happy thoughts while you are doing this to give your water good energy for the brew, as borrowed from Bio-Dynamic farming practices.

7. Drop your prepared tea bag into the bucket containing the microbially charged aerated and de-chlorinated water at room temperature.

8. Ensure that constant and steady temperatures are maintained for brewing over the next 24 to 48 hours. DO NOT allow the water temperature to drop below 70°F or go above 80°F. A constant and steady temperature throughout the brewing process results in superior quality teas that contain a better balance and higher population of beneficial microbes. Ensure that the brew remains constantly aerated with the air pump through the entire process.

9. After 24 to 48 hours, the tea may be diluted and applied. If applying through a drip system or as a foliar spray, strain the raw tea before adding to your final volume of water for application. You may want to experiment with dilution rates, however, one part tea to ten parts de-chlorinated fresh, pH adjusted water is a good place to start. When applying, you will not need to add any other fertilizers or additives. This tea does not replace your regular crop feeding program, rather enhances it. Apply the tea to the roots or as a spray once every couple of weeks in vegetative growth and early flowering.

10. The left over organic solids in the tea bag, while funky in appearance and possibly smelly, are a great compost activator. Add this to materials you want to compost or to growing mediums that you want to re-charge with healthy populations of beneficial microbes. The brewed material should feel almost hot to the touch; signifying an abundance of healthy microbial activity.

This recipe gives you a good starting point, allowing you to experiment with beneficial microbial teas for your favorite plants, both indoors and out. Try and brew only as much as you can use in one application because the tea will not keep well and will become anaerobic (unhealthy for plants, and very stinky to you). If you have any of the concentrate left over, fertilize outdoor trees and shrubs, give some to a friend, or you may be able to keep it viable for a few additional days in the refrigerator.

After application, you should see your plants perk-up and show a jump in growth, with greener and shinier leaves that have a more pronounced natural aroma. As a root drench, the tea encourages healthy life in the root zone while a spray helps to protect the plant against diseases and insects. While it may be true that there is nothing new under the sun, with select ingredients, you may be able to improve upon some proven old world gardening secrets.

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Real men drink (and feed their plants) tea.
Last modified on Thursday, 22 November 2012 05:32

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