Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vermicompost Tea: Brew Effective Micro-organisms Using Vermicompost - Part 1

VERMICOMPOST TEA (or VERMITEA) is the liquid extract from fermented vermicompost. Vermitea is an excellent organic fertilizer and pesticide. This is due to the presence of beneficial microorganisms in the tea. "The vermi teas had about one-third of the microbial activity and diversity of the solid vermicompost, volume to volume." (Arancon, et al, 2007).

Since it is in liquid form, vermitea can be used as an organic foliar fertilizer. Spraying also allows plants to benefit from the pesticidal properties of vermitea. Apart from inhibiting arthropod pests like aphids and spider mites, vermicompost tea suppresses plant diseases (ex. Pythium) and plant parasitic nematodes (ex. root knot nematodes).

Vermitea is also an excellent plant growth promoter and soil ammendment. According to soil scientists, using vermitea produces major growth differences between plants grown on soil and water and those grown on soil and vermitea. "The presence of plant growth regulators in the teas...can influence plant growth significantly independent of nutrient availability." (Arancon, et al, 2007)

Experience the benefits of vermitea by using the following recipe.

HOW TO MAKE VERMITEA
Materials Needed:
Chlorine-free water --> 20 parts
Vermicompost --> 1 part
Molasses or brown sugar --> 6/10 part
Measuring Cup (1 Liter)
powerhead pump or air pump(used to aerate aquariums)
24 liter plastic pail with lid
funnel
cheesecloth bag/used sock/pantyhose or pillowcase
Procedure:
1. Fill pail with 20 liters of chlorine-free water.
2. Add 600mL molasses or brown sugar in the water and mix well until molasses is fully diluted.
3. Attach the powerhead pump inside the pail. The outlet should be submerged just right below the water's surface. Once securely attached, switch on the powerhead.
4. Put 1 liter vermicompost in cheesecloth bag (or used sock, etc). Tie with a string. The string should be long enough to facilitate drawing out the bag from the liquid after fermentation, just like green tea!
5. Submerge the bag containing vermicompost in the water.
6. Put the lid on to prevent dust, insects, etc from contaminating the mixture.
7. Ferment the mixture for 48 hours.
After 48 Hours
8. Test the mixture for bad odors. The vermicompost tea should have a pleasant, earthy smell. We want our vermitea to be aerobic. An awful smell means that anaerobic bacteria have taken over the mixture and should be discarded directly into a drain pipe.
9. Pull out the cheesecloth bag and the power head. The remaining liquid is our vermitea, an organic foliar fertilizer and pesticide.
10. Use a funnel to transfer the liquid into a sprayer. Spray immediately. Adding mild dish-washing liquid helps the vermitea adhere to plant leaves.Do not store the liquid.
NOTES:
* The volume:volume ratios of vermicompost to water used by Arancon, et al, were: 1:5 (20%); 1:10 (10%); 1:20 (5%). I am suggesting a 5% dilution to save on solid vermicompost.
Sources:

  • "Vermicompost tea production and plant growth impacts" by Arancon, Edwards, Dick and Dick, www.biocycle.net, November 2007
  • Compost Tea Brew Recipes
  • Using Earthworms to Make Super Vermicompost
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