Ligaya Garden ocasional tips - Activated Compost Tea

in HiveGarden9 months ago

Occasionally, usually on a quiet Wednesday, I'll post same tips and techniques from Ligaya Garden. Here's the first and it's about liquid gold - Activated Compost Teas.

It's a living organism!

Compost teas are easy to make and simple to apply. They are really just a brew of nutritious organic materials that are diluted and either sprayed as foliar sprays or added to the soil at the root zone.

Nettle compost tea produced by the press method (left) and the traditional fermentation method (right).

To make them extra potent, a compost tea aerator can continuously mix the ingredients by bubbling air through the solution. This also gives a boost to the beneficial microbes that will break down the components of the tea into forms that are more accessible to the plants. It helps reduce the time required to make the tea drastically.

Any organic material that can be added to a compost heap can be used. Here’s a few of my favourite ingredients –

  • Worm castings
  • Nettles
  • Yarrow
  • Comfrey leaves
  • Chicken poo
  • Molasses
  • Bokashi liquid (from the bottom of the Bokashi bin, not the stuff you spray onto the veggie scraps)
  • Dolomite

All of these are well known composting ingredients that are easy to source.

Worm castings are a cornerstone of all of my compost teas. They are well known for their amazing range of plant nutrients. Nettles too have a formidable reputation for their nutritional content and make a well known tea in their own right.

Yarrow and Comfrey are known as ‘compost activators’. they have compounds in them that help speed the composting process through enhancing biological or chemical reactions in the compost pile. Comfrey is a dynamic accumulator and contains valuable potassium.

Chicken poo is a well known fertilizer that is full of nitrogen. That nitrogen boosts microbial activity quite well. We get pigeon poo from a free local source and that helps to add phosphorus to the mix.

Chook Poo Percolator

Molasses gives a food source to micro-organisms. This isn’t highly beneficial in the soil, as it does cause quick spikes in the microbe population that it feeds but these populations crash when this easy food source is used up. For our purposes though, it can increase microbe activity during the relatively short time we’re making the tea and help break down the organic materials into substances that can be more readily uptaken by the plants or soil biota.

Bokashi liquid adds a whole heap of new microbes to the mix. Even though the Bokashi process is anaerobic, if it is exposed to air for a whiHeader 5le, it becomes colonized by aerobic microbes that use it as a food source.

Dolomite or rock dust has some minerals in it, but I mostly add it to the mix if it is too acidic.

Ligaya Garden's secret brew -

For a compost tea activator , I use a 60 litre bin. To this I add -

  • 300g worm castings
  • 100g Nettle leaves
  • 100g chicken or pigeon poo
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup Bokashi liquid
  • a good handful of Comfrey or Yarrow depending on how much is growing in the garden
  • usually a small handful of dolomite
  • sometimes a splash of urine if I’m feeling daring.

These ingredients are added to 60 litres of rainwater and put into the compost tea brewer where air is bubbled through for 10 minutes every hour, allowed to rest and bubbled again and the process is repeated a few times throughout the day. It is then ready to go after filtration. Put the waste from the filtering straight onto your compost heap. You can bubble yours for longer if you want, but 10 minutes is the limit for my old, roadside bounty compressor before it starts to overheat.

You can see from the ingredients that I reckon that the microbial population and activity is the prime driver of a good compost or tea but be creative with your mix, there are hundreds of ideas online. You can even just get existing compost and soak it in water for a couple of days before straining it and using the resulting liquid.

It’s that easy!






Wow, I never knew Yarrow was at the top of the list for activating the mojo in compost. I grow a patch of it and often clip off scraps which I throw onto the compost pile. Think I will start adding yarrow greens to my compost bucket too, which I use to make compost drippings/tea. Usually I only throw kitchen scraps and weeds in my compost bucket.

Is there any way to measure the quality or effectiveness of the compost tea? It is brown and full of tannins, but looks and scent doesn't tell us much.

Yarrow will kick things off nicely I must plant some more. And more comfrey - the chooks shredded it!

For the tea, I just reckon its done when its done. The only way is to observe each batch and get a feel for it. There must be some science to it but its beyond my ken

I love the activated compost tea and thank you for sharing it with us (on how to make it), it will be of great help. Have a nice day ahead.

Thanks It sure helps the garden. You have a great day too!


What kind of aerator do you use? And thanks for the recipe - I didn't realise this about yarrow, which funnily enough grows right next to the comfrey right next to the nettles rigght next to the - you guessed it - compost heap! Awesome info - bookmarked. I do comfrey tea but it's not aerated. Stinks like hell like good fertiliser should. I bloody well dropped my phone in it yesterday - oops. It was on the post and I was listening to a podcast as I turned the compost - knocked it in - had to reach into the muck to get it. Phone was fine.

I just use a normal airstone, You could just have some airline that doesn't go into a stone though, as long as it makes bubbles

Did you check the phone ? Maybe the fertilizers improved it's performance

It did seem a little bigger.... 😆

more memory too?


I have just learned about Bokashi and it is awesome stuff, I don't add rock dust to my teas but I do see quite a few people do, Might have to see but not sure if it is gonna do much really

Bokashi is a great system, A little rock dust helps buffer the pH more than add nutrients. Of course, some would go into solution...

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