Compost Tea and Rootwell Root Feeder System Instead of Chemical Fertilizer
Promote Root Growth with Compost Tea and the Rootwell Root Feeder System, Not Chemical Fertilizers
Fertilizing trees with a root feeder system encourages both foliage and root growth, but is organic or chemical fertilization the best approach? As we become more aware of the environmental impact of using chemicals, many professional arborists and home gardeners prefer organic alternatives, such as compost tea.
Compost tea is an organic solution made by steeping compost in pure water free of chemicals. Because the tea is a liquid, it works well with a root feeder system like Rootwell when applied around roots; when sprayed on foliage, it provides nutrients, reduces foliar diseases, and breaks down toxins. Unlike chemical fertilizers, compost tea is safe and natural, so you cannot over-apply it and burn the roots. This natural root fertilizer also helps extend the root system, suppresses disease, and dispenses nutrient cycling around the roots.
What Makes Compost Tea A Great Solution?
The secret ingredient in compost tea is oxygen, which must be constantly circulated while the tea is cultured. The oxygen in a good brew of compost tea keeps microbes alive and encourages them to reproduce. The minute that the solution turns anaerobic, the microbes will stop reproducing and begin to die. This is true in the soil food web underground as well.
Oxygen is Also Important When the Tea is Delivered to the Roots
Compost tea is the ideal fertilizer solution when used with Rootwell’s aeration system, which encourages roots to expand and grow deeper. If cultured correctly and applied in the right way, the tea is exponentially better for your plants and trees. Since mycorrhizal organisms are grown in the solution, the tea promotes a complete soil food web that benefits trees and plants far more than simple chemicals.
Rootwell makes the ideal root feeder device to deliver compost tea to the root zone. The active promotion of oxygen exchange through the convection cap provides a great environment for all of the beneficial microbes in the tea to establish themselves and go to work for the roots.
Why Use Compost Tea Instead of Chemical Fertilizers?
Advocates of compost tea cite the advantages of organic root fertilizers vs. chemical products. Organics are renewable, biodegradable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. They release nutrients and improve the soil. On the negative side, organic products have a short shelf life and release imprecise ratios of nutrients. Although this is not a problem with a liquid like the tea, organic fertilizers might be slow in releasing nutrients.
Chemical fertilizers, on the other hand, quickly release precise amounts of nutrients into the soil. Environmentalists ask, “At what cost?” The products may harm plants if overly applied and may even damage the soil in the long run since they do not enrich the soil or replace trace elements depleted by repeated planting. Using chemical fertilizers may upset the ecosystem and increase greenhouse gases.
Brewing Compost Tea
Both gardeners and professionals can make compost tea, a process of aerating and liquefying compost. Aside from the compost, you will need some aquarium supplies, unsulfured molasses, cheesecloth, an old tea towel, or a nylon stocking for straining the tea. You will also need a source of “safe” water aerated to remove the chlorine and an extra bucket for decanting.
The compost itself may include manure, legumes, grass clippings from the first two or three cuttings, other green material, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, or paper. Depending on whether you want compost with high concentrations of bacteria or fungi, you would vary the “ingredients.” As the materials in the compost decompose, you moisten the pile and monitor the temperature; to keep the temperature between 135-155°, you turn the pile with a pitchfork or a shovel to mix the compost. After about six weeks, you have the basic ingredient of compost tea.
To make the tea, you mount a gang valve on the lip of a five gallon bucket and fill the bucket half way with compost. Using plastic tubing, you connect three ports on the value to a bubbler, which you bury at the bottom the bucket. Fill the bucket with safe water to about 3″ from the top and add 1 oz. of molasses to feed the bacteria. Stir vigorously with a stick, making sure to rearrange the bubblers after stirring. After three days of steeping and periodic stirring, the compost tea will be ready. Once you have removed the pump and hoses, you can strain the tea into another bucket. For best results, use the tea within the hour.
Professional arborists may use commercial equipment that produces the tea in 12 hours.
If you want a better root feeder to help grow healthy trees that last and flourish, Rootwell’s root aeration tubes are the answer. Call us today to learn more.