High-tech compost tea. May 12, 2012Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading.
Tags: compost, compost tea, The Companion Plant, The Organic Mechanic
Silence Dogood here. As a cooking enthusiast, I often read of cutting-edge chefs who routinely use equipment right out of chemistry and physics labs for the preparation of food.
I myself would prefer to pass on eating these chefs’ science experiments, but I’m a sucker for gadgets and gizmos just like the next person, so I can certainly relate to the impulse. (Take my childhood obsession with fishing tackle, not because I wanted to catch fish, but because the tackle was so weird and interesting that I wanted a tacklebox full of wild-looking lures and fishing gadgets.)
Even so, I wasn’t prepared for the spectacle that greeted me at a local hydroponic/organic store, The Companion Plant (www.thecompanionplant.com), in nearby Kutztown PA, when they offered a free gallon of compost tea a day through May to celebrate the beginning of our frost-free growing season.
Free compost tea?! Hey, count me in! With all the planting, refurbishing of container plants, and etc. that our friend Ben and I have been doing over the last few weeks, the thought of a free, organic source of nutrients seemed too good to be true. Bless those kind folks at The Companion Plant!
The first day I was able to get over there, I presented my battered plastic gallon jug and was taken back to the compost tea machine for my fill-up. OMG. I grew up with the concept of compost tea as follows: Take a shovelfull of finished compost, dump it in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket, fill with water, stir. Repeat daily until the water takes on the color of a rich English breakfast tea. Pour around plants. The End.
Imagine, instead, coming face to face with a huge centrifuge-like machine that would have been right at home on “Battlestar Galactica.” The compost tea was kept in continual motion in this giant cone, constantly aerated by the tubes that pumped oxygen into the mix to make sure the beneficial bacteria in the tea were aerobic (thriving on the presence of oxygen) rather than anaerobic (bad dog!). Think of a whirlpool spa combined with a life-support system.
It was simply awe-inspiring. As the owner of The Companion Plant explained to me, the precise mix and treatment of the ingredients creates beneficial fungi and bacteria in perfect proportion to boost plant growth and health. Compost tea had come a long way since the bucket.
Our friend Ben and I have been heading to The Companion Plant weekly since the growing season started, for local organic seeds and the best potting soil we’ve ever encountered (check out our earlier post, “Organic Mechanics (plus)” in our search bar at upper right for more on this amazing mix), not to mention worm castings, the perfect fertilizer. (And yes, we do make our own in our worm compost bin, but we simply can’t keep up with all our plants and gardens.) We’ve seen that they carry other products we love and use, like the famous International House of Guano. We’ve also indulged in locally produced organic seeds they carry from Black Cat Farm.
But free high-tech compost tea? That’s over the top. We’re so grateful to The Companion Plant for their generosity. And also grateful that we’re not responsible for the care and feeding of that sci-fi compost tea machine!
‘Til next time,