To understand what compost (and vermicompost) tea is and the benefits of using it, it is important to know the relationship between plants and beneficial microbes in nature. Plants use the sun's energy to produce sugars that they use for food. However as much as 50% of those sugars are used in the root system to attract beneficial bacteria and fungi.
This team of living organisms consist of bacteria, nematodes, arthropods and protozoa etc etc. The bacteria attach itself to the plant roots to eat the sugars that the plant provides and while the bacteria provides no direct benefit to the plant, it attracts the arthropods, nematodes (predatory life) that eats the bacteria. It is these little guys digesting the bacteria that produces the plant available food.
The beneficial fungi has a different role. It attaches itself to the root of the plant because it too needs the sugar that the plant provides. The interesting thing about the fungus's role in this little eco-system is after attaching itself to the root, it grows long thin arms, legs and fingers that go out into the soil and mine for minerals that it pulls to the roots of the plant. Is nature amazing or what!
All of these natural processes flourish in nature when left uninterrupted. It is the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that are largely responsible for destroying this naturally occurring system.
Restoring the natural system-
When leaves, sticks, pine needles and any other organic matter fall to the ground in a natural or forest like setting, almost immediately they begin to decompose. Interestingly, the same bacteria that colonize around the roots of the plants play a big role in breaking down these organic materials into compost. Once again they attract a host of other non bacterial life that help in this decomposition. So now we have all of this organic material teaming with beneficial microbes in a naturally occurring compost.
Is there a way to multiply these microbes, (natures little miracle workers) and put them to work doing what they were made to do? The answer is yes. This is the thinking that developed compost tea.
Compost tea takes rich, mature compost and puts it in water using the equivalent of a large tea bag. Then we add food specially formulated food and force air into the water to oxygenate it. With an abundance of food and oxygen these little guys multiply millions of times. Yes they are prolific little buggers. Insuring that there is plenty of food is critical but too much food will attract unwanted insects and disease causing pathogens. This is a delicate balance. Using the method described, and our food brewing kits, we have actively aerated compost tea or AACT within 24 hours.
Compost tea as a foliar spray-
When compost tea is misted onto the leaves of plants including grass, deciduous trees and conifers it coats the leaves warding off the attack of disease causing pathogens that might otherwise find a compromised place on the leaves where they can enter and potentially infect the plant. The presence of the micro-organisms on the leaves cause the plant to secrete a sort of glue-like substance that keeps the beneficial microbial life healthy and in place.
As you can see nature's micro-organisms are truly amazing. Putting these little guys to work for us not only dramatically improves the health of our soil and thereby the health of our plants, it is also 100% organic so we don't have to worry about polluting our streams or exposing our children and pets to disease causing pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. Let's make the decision to work with nature and have the knowledge that what we are doing is good for each other and for our planet.
As your soil improves and the proper amendments are added, an ecological balance is reached and the amount of inputs needed to sustain a healthy microbial population decreases, thus your need for fertilizers and other inputs decreases. This means you spend less time and money for a beautiful, healthy lawn.