Is Compost Tea Worth Your Time?

Brandon Brooks

Compost tea is made from soaking compost in water then filtering out the compost. You use the water that is left to fertilize your garden. Does it really work, though? Is it the latest in fads for gardeners or is there some merit to it?

Of course, using compost tea will provide your plants with some nutrients. Many claim that it adds microorganisms to your soil, too, but this can be quite misleading. Not that it is untrue, but misleading. My point is that the entire earth is packed full of microorganisms. Every little piece of soil on the planet has microorganisms in it. Over the years, research has taught us that without doing something to the earth physically, like add fertilizer or organic matter, we will not be able to change the fundamental makeup of the microorganisms that make up our soil for any decent length of time. For the most part, we find that the microorganisms needed to support growing plants are already in the soil. At times, though, those microorganisms are put off balance by adding fertilizers and pesticides to the soil. To balance this out, some gardeners will add compost into their soil and wait several months before planting in it. This is where the idea of compost tea started. The “tea” is ready to be used immediately instead of waiting on the compost.

There is currently no scientific evidence that compost tea really works. Testimonials are the only thing we can go on. There needs to be actual research on compost tea. Basing your gardening techniques off only testimonials can be detrimental to your plants at times. On the other hand, though, there have been studies that have shown that compost tea can help to control some diseases in plants. Take that for what it is worth.