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Don't pH Your Compost Tea!

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You love your plants and you want the best for them. You know that your plants will most likely be consumed by you and those close to you so really, you want the best for your family and friends, which is why you are feeding your plants all organically. Maybe you even found a locally sourced nutrient line to lower the carbon footprint of your grow. And to unlock all of those properly sourced nutrients you decide to make compost tea.

"The purpose of compost tea is to grow billions of beneficial bacteria that help make organic nutrients available to your plants."

If you don’t know, compost tea is a liquid that you can make (my favorite) or buy (training wheels). The purpose of compost tea is to grow billions of beneficial bacteria that help make organic nutrients available to your plants. 

Compost Tea Benefits

They also can be used as a preventative against bugs or even the dreaded powdery mildew. The benefits of making your own tea are great. Teas can be custom made for specific jobs. As teas brew they will usually be bacterial dominant in the early stages (24 hours) and fungal dominant in the later stages (48 hours). That means if you want to boost your vegetative plants, brew for 48 hours. Your flowering plants will benefit more from a shorter brew, like 24 hours. 

The pre mixed tea packets are a great middle ground for the beginning grower because they can be brewed for a 

specific amount of time for maximum benefit, without the uncertainty of mixing your own tea. When you buy a premade tea off the shelf, it will help your plants along without a doubt, but it probably won’t help as much as a tea from your rockin’ tea kitchen.

After that tea has brewed to perfection, or even if that tea just got uncapped, you of course want to make sure that after all those microbes and fungi digest and/or break down all those delicious nutrients, that the nutrients are available to the plant, right? So you should dust off your pH meter and check the pH and adjust it right? No. Wrong. Bad dog!

What About pH?

Stick with me here. Back before giant corporations spent billions of dollars advertising the need for their poison cleaners, people used things like vinegar or baking soda to sanitize/disinfect their counters and other surfaces. Those natural products work great and they kill bacteria very well by changing the pH of the surfaces. Bacteria will shrivel and die when the pH swings quickly and drastically.

The whole purpose of making a compost tea is to grow bacteria and fungi. When you change the pH of your tea, you will kill many of the beneficial microbes that you wanted to grow in the first place. 

Even if you are changing the pH with ‘natural’ pH adjusters, the outcome will be the same. (Please tell me you weren’t going to use phosphoric acid (pH down) or potassium hydroxide (pH up) in your organic garden) 

Anyway, now you know what’s up and yes, I could have just said this in many fewer words but then you wouldn’t have learned about how long to brew your tea, and that’s worth 5 minutes for sure.

For more information about Compost Tea and pH,  Ask an Expert at Urban Garden Supply today!

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