Liquid fertilizer is an ideal choice for supplying nutrients to your plants since it absorbs quickly into the soil and is readily available for absorption by the plants. Making your own liquid fertilizer, also called compost tea, is low in cost and available when you need it. The process of making the tea also creates beneficial aerobic organisms, which end up in the garden soil to help replenish the soil nutrients and assist with plant growth. Compost tea is organic and safe to apply directly into the soil around the plants or by spraying it onto the foliage for immediate absorption.
The process of making compost tea requires approximately three feet of aquarium tubing, an aquarium gang valve, 3-watt aquarium pump and two 5-gallon plastic buckets. Assemble one brewing bucket by cutting three 12-inch sections of plastic aquarium tubing. Attach one end of each cut tube piece to the gang valve. Attach the remaining tube length to the gang valve and the opposite end to the air pump. Hang the gang valve onto the side of one bucket so the three tubes hang to the inside. Add water to six inches below the rim of the bucket and verify the pump works properly.
The compost tea ingredients are water, mature organic compost and unsulfured molasses. Empty the water from the bucket and pour in one-gallon of organic compost. Add the water back into the bucket to within six inches of the rim. Stir in one-ounce of unsulfured molasses to stimulate bacteria growth. Turn the aquarium pump on and let the solution aerate for three days. Stir the mixture each day with a large stick to break apart compost clumps.
After three days, you will need to strain the solids from the liquid to finish the compost tea fertilizer. Place a large strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth over the second bucket. Pour the contents of the compost tea into the strainer. Retain the strained solids to mix into your garden soil or spread on top of the soil for mulch. Pour the strained liquid into a watering can and immediately apply it to your garden soil or mist onto the plant foliage. Compost tea fertilizer is organic and safe to apply every two weeks during the summer growing season.
University of Vermont Extension: Compost Tea
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: Compost Tea