Straight outta Humboldt, this app is a great intro to the "art and craft" of brewing your own compost tea for boosting microbial activity in the soil and improving yields.
Successful gardeners know they need to "feed" the soil for strong plant growth and a healthy garden, but all too often, novices resort to just applying readymade fertilizers from the garden store, which can add some basic plant macronutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) to the soil. For a more holistic approach, which benefits not only the plants but also the microbial life in the earth, many gardeners turn to compost tea for building healthy, fertile soil and thriving plants.
Compost tea concentrates and formulations of readymade compost tea are available at many garden stores and nurseries, which can take the guesswork out of it for those who aren't ready to make their own. But if you're a DIY kind of person, brewing your own compost tea isn't that difficult once you know the basics, and the ingredients are either free or cheap to purchase, so learning how to make homebrewed compost tea is a valuable and fruitful skill to have, and one that can pay great dividends in the form of great garden harvests.
However, if you've never made your own compost tea, it might seem a little daunting to brew up some of this liquid gold at home, and if that's you, you're in luck, because Humboldt Earth Technologies (HET) wants to help you brew the best possible compost tea for your garden, and a new app could be your go-to recipe source for feeding the soil.
Lloyd thinks I must be on my phone all the time, based on the number of apps I cover, but the truth is that I see smartphones as powerful tools that can be put to work for us instead of being a constant distraction and an anti-social gadget. And while I know that there are plenty of other ways to get info on growing food (such as in an actual book made from paper), I'm all in favor of mobile tools that can help us be better gardeners, and sometimes there really is an app for that.
HET has just released a new mobile app, the Compost Tea Calculator, for both Android and iOS, which aims to make brewing your own compost tea easier and more foolproof by providing recipes and preparation instructions, as well as an ingredient calculator for figuring out how much of each component to add for a given amount of water.
"Properly brewed compost tea concentrates the most powerful compounds in the biological matter and allows for more direct application to leaves or soil than solid compost does. Likewise, compost tea recipes can be tailored to remedy particular issues or meet the nutrient requirements of specific plant species." - HET
Perhaps you don't want to brew up a large batch, but need to know the precise amount of each ingredient to add for a small batch of compost tea, or perhaps you want to brew a really big batch to apply to your entire yard, but aren't sure of the appropriate amounts of each ingredients, in which case the Compost Tea Calculator (CTC) can instantly provide the recipe based on the volume you want to brew.
While there are a variety of approaches to brewing compost tea, one of the standard methods is called actively aerated compost tea (AACT), which is what the CTC app is designed to be used with. This method uses a constant stream of air bubbles to oxygenate the tea, most often with a standard aquarium air pump and aerator (both of which are relatively cheap to purchase), creating an aerobic condition to support the healthy populations of microorganisms in the tea.
According to HET, compost tea can reduce the need for fertilizers and increase nutrient uptake, build soil structure and repair damaged soils, increase the water-holding capacity of the soil (which reduces garden water consumption), and reduce plant and soil diseases.
"Our recipes have been formulated and field-tested in Humboldt County, California. They have been examined and approved by local soil scientists and biologists for horticultural use. Our recipes provide well-balanced ratios of essential nutrients for creating microbial life, which in turn promote plant growth, vigor and yields as well as an amplified resistance to pests and pathogens. " - HET
The Compost Tea Calculator is available at either the Google Play store or the App Store for $4.99 USD, and more info is available at the website. I'll definitely be putting this app to the test on my garden beds and fruit trees this season.
And if you really want to dig deeper into the secret life of soil, and maybe blow your mind a little with how much our lives depend on microscopic organisms in the dirt under our feet, Dr. Elaine Ingham's Soil Food Web website is a phenomenal resource.