Introduction

Roger Cook spraying compost tea to fertilize a lawn
Photo: Kindra Clineff
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Q: Can you give me the recipe for making compost tea?
John Stumpo, Detroit

Roger Cook replies: Compost tea is a natural liquid fertilizer loaded with beneficial bacteria and nutrients that reach the roots faster than traditional compost. A lawn treated with the tea grows slower, needs less mowing, and uses less water because of its deep roots.

My compost recipe is 2 parts carbon-rich "browns," such as dead leaves, to 1 part nitrogen-rich "greens," like rotted grass clippings. I put 7 pounds of it in a mesh sack and suspend the sack inside a rain barrel filled with water and fitted with an aerator. Then I add 12 ounces each of molasses, liquid kelp, and fish hydrolysate. These last two are sold by Neptune's Harvest. It takes about 24 hours to brew 55 gallons of tea, enough for more than an acre of lawn. Once it's used up, discard the compost and start a fresh batch.
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    Tools List

    • drill
      Drill (or drill/driver)
    • 3/8-inch spade bit
      -inch spade bit
    • 3/16-inch drill bit
      3/16 drill bit
    • pump sprayer
      Pump sprayer (for applying the compost tea)

    Shopping List

    1. -inch irrigation tubing
    (approximately 10 feet)

    2. 55-gallon rain barrel

    3. Nylon mesh bag or cheeseclothTea ingredients:

    4. Aged compost

    5. Molasses

    6. Liquid kelp Available through Neptune's Harvest

    7. Fish hydrolysate Available through Neptune's Harvest