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Compost Tea Primer
Peter Cervieri access_time 4 min read

The first video provides an overview of vortex compost tea brewers, which create a lot of dissolved oxygen in order to support a high concentration of life forms in a small container.

Role that microorganisms living in and around roots play:

  • break down nutrients to make them bioavailable to the plant roots
  • fight bad organisms by either creating antagonistic enzymes that attack pathogens or simply by competing with bad pathogens for living space in the root structure
  • create growth hormones that encourage the roots to grow, which benefits the plants and the bacteria. the more roots, the more living space for the bacteria

Fungus vs. bacteria in compost teas.

Starting with and washing nutrient rich compost will provide the most diverse tea of beneficial fungus and bacteria. Compost provides a more diverse biology than what you can do with store bought microbes that come in powdered form. The limiting factor of mixing dry powders is that a lot of the organisms that are in compost can’t be suspended and put into packaging to be shipped to agriculture stores

The second video talks about three common purposes for compost teas:

  • break down nutrients to make them bioavailable to plants root system
  • produce growth hormones to help promote the growth of the plants root system
  • resistance to pathogens, preventative

New transplants:
– fungal dominant tea
– fungus plugs into plant root pores and snake out into the soil. fungus multiplies the surface area and reach of the root system to access more nutrients that may be further away in the soil.
great for establishing the root system, making it as strong as possible as fast as possible, and making many nutrients available to the root system.

Growth phase:
– breakdown of nutrients in the soil is the goal. A lot of the bacterias introduced via teas during the growth phase create amino acids and hormones, and break down nutrients and make them available to plants. These competitive bacteria occupy a lot of the same space that the fungus wants to occupy. So it is important to establish the fungal colonies first, during the transplant phase. Then transition into the bacterial dominant teas.
Early on, you want bacteria that breaks down nitrogen in soil fast. Over time move slowly from N to P to K, in terms of introducing bacteria that makes N, P and K bioavailable to the root system.

End of life cycle / Flowering phase
as plants get weaker at the end of their life cycle
– want bacteria that break down potassium.
– want bacteria that combat pests and pathogens such as fusarium (fungus), pythium (oomycete), botrytis (fungus)
– streptomyces is antagonistic to pathogens and attacks fungus (don’t want to use it early on as a preventative, there are other species you’d rather introduce early that won’t attack good fungus that you do want).

By this point in time, the plant already has the majority of the nutrients it will be using (stored energy for plant – Brix level). So growers should focus on what will help plant finish (bloom boosters, solubles) and pest suppression.

If there are specific issues you want to target, such as fungus gnats and root aphids, you might want to add Beauveria bassiana. But you wouldn’t add this to the compost tea if you don’t have that problem. Subtilis is a good bacteria during the flowering phase.

The third video goes into the relationship between temperature, dissolved oxygen and PPM.

And covers the relationship between compost tea and nutrients (and the fact that you should make them separately).

About Matt Jerge

11 years as an organic cannabis grower and consultant. Focusing on  breakdown of insoluble nutrients in the soil ecosystem to reduce feeding costs, soil blends, soil biology, brix levels and IPM.

Prior to Cannabis I was working in landscape design and installation, irrigation systems, while operating a small plant nursery focused on rare and exotic flowering plants, tropicals, Palms, Cycads, and orchids.

My reasoning is all based on a less is more mentality. Focusing on the ecosystem of the growing environment above and below ground. I have worked with Hydro, Indoor, outdoor, greenhouse, and coldframe cannabis production. Currently working on clone production techniques combining Cannabis with commercial Agriculture practices.