While many professional cannabis growers use compost as a plant nutrient, not as many brew it in water and air to make tea. But compost teas are gaining ground as a powerful additive. They jump start the soil and combat pests and soil diseases. Teas enhance the microorganisms that break down soil waste, yielding additional plant nutrients. The tea can also be sprayed directly on plants instead of liquid plant nutrients.
Enabling healthy soil is every bit as important as growing healthy plants. Soil is comprised of “good” microorganisms that sustain plants and their overall health. But it also contains “bad” microorganisms that can harm plants by starving them of crucial nutrients. These microorganisms thrive in anaerobic conditions (that is, without oxygen).
A closer look at compost tea
A variety of helpful microorganisms or microbes can be found in compost tea. These include bacteria, protozoa and fungal hyphae. The more diverse the microbes are, the healthier the plant will be. Some growers even use microscopes to examine the tea and ensure the proper amount and types of microbes. Tea-brewing kits can be purchased online, and it is expected that soon these kits will include microscopes.
Many growth contributors already exist in soil, such as worms and insects. These along with the microbes are referred to as the soil food web. A feeding cycle begins when microbes start multiplying after the roots release substances that the bacteria consume. The bacteria then fall prey to protozoa, which excrete other substances that convert into nutrients for the plant. This cycle occurs millions of times over during the plant’s life.
So, good bacteria consume bad bacteria. The helpful bacteria also compete against the harmful bacteria for nutrients and space and produce natural antibiotics that can inhibit the harmful bacteria.
The other helpful microorganisms in soil are fungal hyphae, which take the form of long strands. These special fungi serve to:
Compost tea machines, or brewers, introduce water and air into the plant. When cannabis growers make compost teas that are highly aerated and aerobic, they are doing their fair share to eliminate up to 75 percent of the harmful, disease-causing bacteria that could otherwise plague their precious plants.
Recipe for compost tea
Here’s a common compost tea recipe:
As soon as the tea is ready, water your plants and spray it directly onto leaves. However, the nutrient level within the tea will decline if left sitting around.
Substitutes for molasses include fish hydrolysate, kelp meal and humic acid—or you can mix several of them in your filter for the ultimate soil boost; for example:
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