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Compost Tea Recipe

Photography: Johnny Miller

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2010


There are competing claims, however, as to what compost tea can do. Supporters say aerating compost tea with a simple aquarium pump results in a brew that can combat plant disease. But studies for disease control have produced contradictory results, causing many scientists to reject such claims. What's not debated is its use as an effective liquid fertilizer. Here's how to brew your own.


  • 3 air stones (aquarium bubblers)

  • 5-gallon bucket

  • 3-way gang valve

  • 6-foot aquarium airline tubing

  • 10-gallon aquarium pump

  • Finished compost

  • Nonchlorinated water (let treated water sit overnight before brewing)

  • Cheesecloth


  1. Place air stones in bucket, and fasten gang valve to bucket's edge. Cut 3 pieces of tubing, each long enough to connect air stones to valve. Connect air stones to valve with tubing. Cut another piece of tubing to connect valve to pump, making it long enough to let pump sit on the ground.

  2. Fill bucket with enough compost to cover air stones, then fill with water, leaving 2 inches at top.

  3. Run the pump for 2 to 3 days before using the tea.

  4. Once the tea is ready, strain through cheesecloth. The liquid should be used immediately and can be applied with a watering can or sprayer. Do not apply to edible crops near harvest, since harmful bacteria may be present. The used compost can be placed back in the compost pile or spread in the garden.

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