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Building a Compost Tea System

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  • #16
    Originally posted by cdoug_e View Post
    relax, breathe, I am just saying that it is not as simple as it sounds in a PDC. I am actually proud to be a university professor at the ripe old age of 30. And when you work hand in hand with the best of the business, you take on what they say. SO man, relax, you always seem to get huffy on these posts. Don't take it personal, it is just a shot in the dark so to speak if you don't observe under the microscope. Would you breed chickens and not look after them, only watching from 100's of meters away. So why would you breed microorganisms and not look after them, and since they are micro-organisms, why wouldn't you observe them under a micro-scope?

    Nature is complex man, it takes geniuses to see at the pieces at play, and we are all geniuses, it is through permaculture that some of us can see through this lens to watch the symphony.

    Using tea is one of the most profound ways to accelerate succession and evolution. It is a powerful tool, and yes I think we should all get trained under the microscope. You think the geneticists at Monsanto aren't really well trained. If you start to use a microscope you see lots of patterns and realize the complexity of the microbial world. Its a beautiful thing, full of diversity, full of the unknown, and then it becomes a giant playground.

    I am not an elitist, I do lots of stuff for poor people, I just believe soil science is a science. breathe.
    you condecending asshole - it buggs me to bits when a "scientist" gets hold of a process that has happened for millions of years and makes it exclusively their own.
    Purple Pear Farm
    Permaculture Education and Community Supported Agriculture


    • #17
      cdoug, I can't comment on the compost tea, but I hope you aren't saying that people can't build good compost without a microscope (it's hard to tell from that post if you are telling people to chop and drop because they can't do low tech compost tea or composts themselves).


      • #18
        he he he eh...FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT..........
        We have a fight are the rules, no biting, no hitting ,no spitting, no scratching ,gouging and kicking are allowed only if the referee don't see.
        You can use the chairs that you are sitting on,but references to combatants mothers is illegal.

        This seems a discussion between simplicity and science.
        Using basic methods with the three essentials. good water(non chlorinated),(good aeration),(good compost) you can make a great brew. I have done it and then looked at it under a microscope with lots of success.
        Once you have a good recipe you just continue to replicate the process.
        I now a man in Brazil who has been doing this since 1977,long before any of this was even laid down by Elaine,he is sort of a Fukuoka character,a scientist himself he never saw the need to overly analyse his success .
        I have visited and been updated by him regularly as I am his great grandsons God father,he has one of the best organic gardens(3 hectares) I have seen he uses the same ingredients and brews at the same length of time and he has never once looked at it under the microscope.
        The real danger is in the anaerobes or in the lack of protozoa Lucerne,has an excellent association with protozoa and is worth including as a food source. Anaerobes are not present in well oxygenated water consider these two things and the science does become simple.You will maybe not make optimum tea but you will make a good quality tea without all the la la la that commercial operators such as Paul has.

        Also e doug please don't refer to Purple as huffy.
        Purple please dont refer to e doug as an asshole.
        As a newly reformed forum user, I am going to act smug and superior to all those lesser mortals and point out their failings.
        I do this because i like to throw a bone to the rabble every so often.
        Please make up you both have valuable things to say to each other and to learn from each other I would not like to see either of you leave because it would lessen my opportunity to learn.
        Best wishes Fernando


        • #19
          I would not say that wonder boy does not have a contribution to make - alot of what he/she said would no doubt make for a better tea if the facilities were present but to say (my words) that you should not put your head out the window till science says it is safe leads me to think of thalimide and ddt and necuear energy and it also makes me think of consumerism with a view that you can not be fulfilled unless you have the latest and greatest.
          please excuse the worst than normal bad spelling but I have boiling blood - is there something in scence for that?

          I guess the point I would like to make is that I strongly believe we have the answers within ourselves. If we approach our lives and our tasks with the right intent, ensure we remain observant, and trust our intuition then the things we need to achieve will be achieved.

          Besides wonder boy is probably a nice kid with an extensive education and will no doubt make an old dirt farmer look silly should this "debate" continue.
          Purple Pear Farm

          Permaculture Education and Community Supported Agriculture


          • #20
            Sounded like a middle ground;>)
            Love is in the air da da dadu is....


            • #21
              Old dirt farmers and wonder science kids, we need 'em all.


              • #22
                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


                • #23
                  It's all good wonder boy
                  Purple Pear Farm
                  Permaculture Education and Community Supported Agriculture


                  • #24
                    I am glad you recognize my super powers


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by cdoug_e View Post
                      I do have plans for 25 gallon, 100 L rubbermaid trash can plan that i can email you though.
                      Care to share your super powers with everyone by posting this up?


                      • #26
                        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


                        • #27
                          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

                          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,


                          • #28
                            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?


                            • #29
                              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.


                              • #30
                                Sorry if it came over a bit threatening - its was an attempt at understanding not criticism. What about humanure compost tea?