Building a Compost Tea System

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by DSmith, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Old dirt farmers and wonder science kids, we need 'em all.
     
  2. cdoug_e

    cdoug_e Junior Member

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    Thanks Pebble, and you are right Purple it is all about Intent, and for that we have common ground and we should stick by it. We can spray all the tea in the world but if we don't do something about consciousness, then what are we doing (this is why i teach at Maharishi University of management, its about combining university with meditation and consciousness)

    As for my schooling, yeah I got a technical college degree (2 year degree from a small school in rural Ohio) in Fish and Wildlife Management. We joke that it is basically a degree on how to use a field guide book. While somewhat scientific, the degree did entail me hanging out in the forest and identifying plants and birds and such. Not bad homework on a Saturday morning, to get up and hike the tree trail at the school. It was not a degree that entails lots of reading of scientific peer reviewed papers, that shit bored me ( I dropped out of Fisheries Biology at University) It was mostly about observing and tweaking the ecosystem for wildlife and fish. Sounds like PC to me, at least that is how I apply it in my forestry work. Improving stands is my main focus right now, I mean besides teaching and designing.

    I mostly work with tree crops and animals and like the idea of harvesting deer rather than a cow. So yes I got a little to scientific and pretentious there, so I do apologize purple. Science has brought us some good things and some bad things. DDT yes bad, but I think some of the stuff that Gunter Pauli outlines in his new book The bLue Economy can be a way of using science in the transition.

    As for why I posted that, as a designer and educator, you sometimes work with clients and expressing the complexity of tea can be a bit of a challenge. Take for example a project I am involved in southern, dry ass, becoming the Sahara Spain. Client is wealthy, has 230 HA of beautiful land and is running too many horses. So we are doing some keyline work and my Spanish guy who does the plowing has converted his rig to put the tea in the rip lines. So client buys tea brewer from a spanish company and the brewing is a disaster because the kit that was sold is garbage in terms of design. Aerator on top, not bubbles reaching the bottom where it can get to be a breeding ground for the nasties. So client sinks money into a piece of shit. The Spaniards who put it together probably had good intention but money on their mind, not design or science. So please do forgive me for scientific rant, what i meant was, take due diligence to ensure the correct conditions for breeding the good microorganisms is present.

    So as always it comes back to design, design your systems based on a functional analysis of a good tea. Lots of air, compost that has lots of fungus and such in it at the beginning, not just bacteria, we all have enough of that in our soil usually anyways, give it the right temperatures, feed it the right food, mostly just fungal food- kelp, fish hydrolosate, molasses you can leave out really (according to Elaine) as it just breeds more bacteria and we are really trying to push soils more fungal to accelerate succession (even in the garden)

    All we need is love, right Fernando, at least that is what I say in patterns slideshow
     
  3. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    It's all good wonder boy
     
  4. cdoug_e

    cdoug_e Junior Member

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    I am glad you recognize my super powers
     
  5. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Care to share your super powers with everyone by posting this up?
     
  6. veganpermie

    veganpermie Junior Member

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    yes please, i would love those plans also!

    I really want to make a compost tea setup soon. I am off the grid and wonder about how much pump wattage would do in terms of the minimum?. If it needs to run for days non stop(?) can you get a solar pump? I have been looking on ebay and have seen a few solar pumps for water features, would that aerate the water? If it kind of moved it up into a fountain (maybe through some compost as one person said something like?) And then burbled along swirling around a few times? Could I then make a water feature that also makes compost tea, I would love that! - Forgive me if this is a moronic idea, I know next to nothing about either water features or compost tea!

    Any links to designs for lay people would be great. Bit scared of the microscope thing but I will do it if I should - at least initially - but would love to stick to a tried and true recipe in case I slack off checking. Can I have a recipe that doesnt need any animal products (blood and bone, fish, cow manure) as I don't use them (happy to use worm castings though, do I need to add anything to the castings?).

    Very interesting thread. Thanks everyone
     
  7. barefootrim

    barefootrim Junior Member

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    Dear Veganpermie,

    You've asked some very basic questions (not moronic as you say), but I'd like to have a crack at the reply please.

    The formula for compost tea aeration is : aeration in litres per minute = volume of fluid in container ,, so a 20 litre bucket 1/2 full with 10 litres of tea in it would need a aerator capable of pumping 10 litres of air per minute,,,, a fish tank aerator could do that,,,read the specifications on the back of the gizmo to verify. If you have a 1000 litre container (IBC say) then you need a air blower capable of 1000 litre per minute.

    (time frame is not days but minimum 6 hours max 24 hours)

    You could make a water feature that makes compost tea,,, thats only limited by your imagination,,,, but as you use the compost tea you'd have to fill up the water feature each time to replace what you took in volume,,,assuming it was a closed system. I think the flowform idea sort of covered what your getting at for aeration of water/water features. Stick with a 20 litre bucket is my suggestion to you for starters.

    This youtube has the basics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0en00_CSM4

    Ummm, as a vegetarian myself you sort of have to get your head around the idea that soils, worms and soil microbes etc like meat products ie blood and bone, dead animals ,,cow poop,, its a nourishing part of their nurtient cycle,,its nature recycling,, so using them is an ok thingy. you may be vegan/vegetarian but soils aint,,,you have to respect that for good soil health.

    Good luck,
    Barefootrim
     
  8. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Vegan permie I can understand no wanting to use blood an bone or fish meal - but why not manure? Worm castings are of course worm manure - and you are keeping them in captivity for your own purposes. Why is there is an issue with picking up cow or horse poo that has fallen on the ground and moving it to a bucket? Surely you can find someone who is caring for their animals ethically who would let you scavenge from their property?
     
  9. veganpermie

    veganpermie Junior Member

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    Hi thanks for the answers to the compost question, still wondering though if a water feature aerates satisfactorily? people keep talking about fish tank aerators and I dont know if I can use just a solar pump for a water feature, which I assume is for moving water not air? so would it work or not? If not can you get solar aerators? Is anyone else off the grid doing this and has looked at wattage etc? Will pobably first try in a bucket, didnt realise it was so fast, though is that temperature based? I think someone told me it can take much longer but maybe that was only in winter.

    Re: vegan stuff - see discussion when I joined group trying to find out if there was any other vegan organic permies on this forum. I don't really want to go over it every time I post and clarify I want ingredients without other peoples animal products, been vegan 20 years and have hours of reasons I'm happy with and pretty closed to other peoples arguments now so don't want to waste anyone's time!. You can achieve fertility in a way acceptable to most vegans/me (obviously I have no problem with micro-organisms etc etc or I would not be inquiring about compost tea!) - If anyone actually wants to know how they can google vegan organic network for info and books on this topic.

    Anyway.. back to compost tea - I will go and follow You tube link now, thanks. I wonder is there somewhere on this site or another good site people could recommend for beginners? particularly one that has photo's or sells good quality aerators? I could google but don't want to re-invent the wheel if people here have done it already. Got some mates from Melb all vibed up to come and play compost tea making/gardening with me for a 'dirty' weekend so need to get the bits soon. They are science types and can bring microscope so that is great if it only takes 6 - 24 hours, they can probably help me work out what is what in it after we construct it.
     
  10. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Sorry if it came over a bit threatening - its was an attempt at understanding not criticism. What about humanure compost tea?
     
  11. veganpermie

    veganpermie Junior Member

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    oh dear, now I am lost in a million great You tube composting tea video's! I don't need a link or sites anymore! I think I might be more confused. Elaine Ingham says t is NOT ok to put compost in water and not aerate as can breed stuff that will kill plants, Other vid's say that is fine just not as effective. Many vid's say if it smells full on its bad, it should just smell 'earthy'. If its not fine with compost to leave in bucket without aeration I assume it is fine to leave just plant matter in water. I was about to put comfrey and any other green weedy plants in big 44 gal drum maybe with a bit of my urine and just let sit - would that be ok? apparently comfrey in water really stinks after a while- does that mean its toxic? or is it ok cos its not from compost, HELP I think I need a science background to understand this!
     
  12. veganpermie

    veganpermie Junior Member

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    Hi, I posted again before I saw last post, I am totally fine in principle with human manure BUT I have a composting toilet that I am not convinced works as it should and am not sure all pathogens are gone so not sure if I should brew this up - is there some way to check it is ok? TBH the last lot was obviously not broken down (it had big lumps of poo in it and dessicated toilet paper - after a few years!). I think I sometimes accidently pushed the rotaloo bins in wrong direction and lost track of which bin I was up to! (baby brain) Anyway I emptied it all out and started again and haven't checked for a while (year or so) ,almost time to empty bins again. I would put on fruit trees but brewing....hmm.. maybe I would brew super pathogens!!

    p.s.Not feeling threatened - sorry written word is hard to get vibe hey? but figure that in an online discussion I won't really change my mind about this and probably won't change anyone else's mind with my arguments. I thought if some very few people were really interested in vegan organic gardening they should go to VON site for more info than I can provide as I didn't want to hijack this thread!
     
  13. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    veganpermie - I've had a composting toilet for 12 years and I love it. If your contents are not breaking down then the contents are not damp enough. What kind of leaves/dirt/pine needles are you layering as you go? This type of organic matter not only holds the right kind of bacteria to break down your contents, but it also holds lots of moisture. I don't stir mine, I just use an inner container and remove it to silver garbage cans that are in the sun for a year. I control the liquid so as not to get too much, but enough so that it smells like the floor of a forest. I am also having lots of fun putting in lavender and lemon balm branches often.

    Fernando, you have reminded me about worms, and really, isn't that what Permaculture is about? Letting Nature do the work instead of us? I don't have power where I make compost tea, so I use a large leaf rake that swishes air into the water. But it's a job I shouldn't have to do, and I'm going to commit to the worms and letting them do it! :)

    PP, I agree with you about not needing a lab for things. Because we are using lots of organic matter in our soils anything we add that is out of balance will soon be brought back into balance. We aren't using raped soils and nonorganic fertilizers. Rains make the ground too soggy, but with lots of organic matter it rights itself again. I understand science, I worked for a scientific company for a long time, and what's under the microscope is true, but it's not out there by itself. We ought to have good, balanced systems after a few years of working on our soils that are working with us, not against us. I've never killed anything with compost tea and sometimes I don't even have time to stir it.

    cdoug, your qualifications sound really nice, but how big is your garden and what do you grow? Do you use Permaculture practices? It really is in the doing that all the info from lab applies :)
     
  14. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    veganpermie, about the comfrey tea, and all teas for that matter, are very concentrated, so we dilute them before using. Also, you should never apply any of these teas to dry soil. Make sure it's wet down deep first. If I am concerned about anything I'm applying to the soil, I apply it slightly away from the root zone and let rain and critters break it down and take it to the roots.
     
  15. lockycturn

    lockycturn Junior Member

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    Put some water and compost in a bucket and pass air through it. Not rocket science.
     
  16. Rylan Zimny

    Rylan Zimny New Member

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    Greetings,
    I have some experience making compost tea brewers, and my favourite and FREE site for reference is one owned by a smart fellow named Tim Wilson. He has been on the ball for some time, and has even been ahead of the game (ahead of Elaine Ingham) where he made predictions and observations about the importance of balanced teas. His site is here https://microbeorganics.com/ and most of the pertinent information for making your own brewer can be found throughout his pages. I cannot speak to the organization of the site, only on the much appreciated free information. He has things like CFM rates required, desireable DO2 rates, recipes, pump recommendations for certain brewer sizes, etc. It will take a while to poke through it, but it is well worth the read. Here is a picture of my constructed 60 Gallon brewer:

    IMG_3327-60-Gallon-Brewer-small.jpg
     
  17. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Wow, good work on the brewer, very professional!
    Thanks for the link to Tim's website.
     

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