How to Use Compost Tea

We’ve talked before about how great compost is for your garden, but you can supercharge it by making what’s known as compost tea. As the name suggests, compost tea is basically compost that’s steeped in water. Think of it as a rejuvenating pick-me-up for your garden that will nourish it the same way that a nice hot cup of tea nourishes your body.


You don’t pour compost tea into your garden the same way you would water your garden. Instead, you can use it as a foliar spray or as a soil drench, depending on what problems your garden has that you’re trying to address.

Benefits of compost tea

The first benefit of compost tea is that it dilutes the nutrients. This allows plants to use the nutrients faster, giving them an immediate boost when they need it. Compost tea also introduces good microbes to your garden, which can mitigate the effects of bad microbes that can cause disease among your plants. Using compost tea regularly will improve the health of your soil overall.

How to make compost tea

You’ll need to get some supplies to make compost tea. Once you buy them, though, you’ll be set to make compost tea forever. The main supplies you’ll need are a 10-gallon bucket and an aquarium pump. You can also find commercial products and kits for making compost tea. And, of course, you’ll need a compost catalyst (you can also buy this commercially) and compost.


Once you have your materials gathered, fill your bucket with water. If you have tap water, leave it in the bucket for a day to release the chlorine. If you’re using water from a well, you can use the water straight from the spigot.


Next, add your compost catalyst to the water to jump start the process, then put your compost in a sachet in your bucket.


Finally, it’s time to pump your tea. This aerates the air in your bucket and is what gets the compost to start working. Leave your water pumping for 24 hours until you have a nice, frothy brew of compost tea. If there’s any solid compost left, you can spread it throughout your garden. 

When to apply compost tea

The matter of how often to apply compost tea comes down to what type of compost you’re using to make the tea. If your compost is mostly plant-based, and therefore oxygen-rich, then you can use it daily if you want. However, if your compost is made from brown organic materials 

and is therefore nitrogen-based, you should limit it to once a month to avoid burning your plants.


You’ll want to use your compost tea as soon as possible after it’s ready, waiting no more than 72 hours. This is because compost tea is living material and will quickly go bad. Apply it in the morning for best results. This is because the dew will make sure that the active organisms that are cultivated in your compost tea stay active.


Compost tea can help your garden stay healthy, especially when you combine it with other gardening tools like mulch, compost, and soil amendments. Remember that no gardening practice alone is a panacea. When you put them all together, that is when your garden comes to life.