Friday, June 1, 2012

And away we go!

I have transitioned my compost tea system from a passive mix and water system to a new active aerated system designed by Bruce Deuley and David Hall.  The system demonstration can be viewed in four parts here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8_PuUon5_Q&feature=relmfu

The instructions to build your own can be downloaded here:

http://dchall.home.texas.net/organic/teamaker/

We have made a simple compost tea for several years.  Here's a photo of the setup:

compost tea

A light shovel of compost, aerated with the jet spray of the hose, strained through a stainless steel pasta colander and applied with a watering can.  The results have been remarkable.  The soil changes were among the most obvious, along with the increased plant growth.  At the end of the last several seasons, which culminated in dry summers, the areas under the plants, such as the tomatoes were soft and spongy, as opposed to the aisles adjacent, which were very dry.  The soil appearance and work-ability is remarkable.  'Spongy' is the impression it leaves with experienced gardeners, and porous and crumbly is the physical appearance when working the ground.  It's become a living soil system.

I started with pond water from our pond:

compost tea,vernal pool
  The pond is more a vernal pool than a pond.  The feed is groundwater, as we are at the base of a hill.  It was mechanically dug in the 60's.  It is beginning to get low, as it does in the summer.  The dam side needs redone, it's surrounded by many mature softwood trees and a black locust, which also impact the water level.  I've discovered a clay drain tile the runs along the west side which also contributes to it's water level decline, but it hasn't ever gone completely dry.  It is full of frogs, some turtles occasionally and the wide variety of insects.  This has all created a huge organic matter sink that I use to supplement the compost and add to watering cycles.







A large handful of compost to each paint strainer bag:












Four 5-gallon buckets is my setup.  The pump is inside the porch with the airlines run through an existing hole in the wall with a plug with holes for the airlines.


I drilled out the lids, 2 holes each, with one for the supply air hose and one for the string to suspend the compost bag with the small airstone.  The longer 4" airstone goes to the bottom.  The airline is split to allow for two stones per bucket.  I'm counting on this heavier duty air pump to be adequate to supply air for four active systems.  Time will tell.







compost tea
Lot's of parts to source...

















Tie up the bag and add some
molasses water...














The finished systems with lids.
The bubbling has begun...















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