This week in the Flog:
- Why am I cutting Pat’s Composting Series short?
- Final episode of the Composting Series – this week!
- Background on the Compost Tea research
This composting series has gone really well. It will be a great resource to learn about all kinds of composting techniques. If you guys are interested in composting, this series is a great place to start. Some techniques may be pretty foreign, like cockroach composting, but trust me they are all awesome and well worth the effort. The compost pile is finished now, and I’m just applying it to the garden. I will post results of that later. For now, you can review the series on the website through these pages:
- Cockroach Composting
- Bokashi Composting
- Basic Composting – layer style
- Worm Composting
- Basic Composting – Coconut Components
So why will the next article be the final of Pat’s Composting Series? Great question.
I removed the article on BSF composting since it won’t be ready for a long time. I got some BSF larva from a friend but they didn’t do well and my balcony garden is not accessible to black soldier fly adults. Until I have a good working example to document, I’m shelving that article. I really strive to only publish very well researched, well written articles so that you guys get good clear examples to learn from. At the very least I need a good working setup to document and display the technique in action! My problem with the larva I had was “setting the mood” apparently. The adults didn’t mate once matured – I guess they didn’t like my beautiful enclosure :
On the flipside, speaking of well researched articles, I’m really excited about the Compost Tea articles. In fact I went a little overboard with those, designing my own brewer for the aerobic compost tea, and my own methodology and recipes for the anaerobic tea. Here’s a breakdown:
I started this venture when I bought a nice microscope several years ago, with which to study the microbes. You can’t be sure you have a great tea unless you know what microbes to look for, and whether they are actually in the tea you brew! I started making compost tea. The initial results were dismal. Almost zero microbial activity. I found out that 90% of sites discussing compost tea, give bad advice. I guess that’s the nature of the internet.
So I went back to researching. I visited friend’s operations. I read books on the brewing process. I picked up every piece of information I could find on the topic. That’s when I started looking at brewers. The cost of a commercial compost tea brewer shocked me. And most don’t come with any proof of their effectiveness.
So I started designing my own brewer and testing the results. Again, a bit dismal, but getting better – I started seeing great activity in my brews. The only issue now was, my results were so variable! Sometimes there would be tons of microbes, other times almost none. I kept redesigning the brewer, and learned more about the scientific principles underlying the process. There was a great turning point, where it all came together – after over a dozen prototypes, I had a simple, cheap, supremely effective brewer built that yielded consistent results, based on a recipe I tested and tweaked over and over to ensure consistency. I’m still not finished, but it is looking awesome now! And my “experiment” balcony is loving it.
I found a real lack of information on anaerobic tea brewing. Lot’s of misinformation and inaccuracies about the process float around the internet. Well, our whole site is on the anaerobic process! This applies to teas also! So using the principles of Gil’s techniques, I started brewing anaerobic compost tea. This is an amazing, super interesting topic I have spent a ton of time testing and tweaking. I’m fascinated by the stark contrasts between aerobic and anaerobic – in ingredients, brewing, application, effectiveness – they are two totally different beasts but both absolutely essential to the natural garden. I’ve been testing the process – from brewer designs, to ingredients, to application and results – to find a consistent anaerobic counterpart to the traditional aerated tea. It’s been a great adventure, which I have yet to finish.
You can see, these two articles have spun out of control and become really awesome research topics that are ongoing at this point. In an effort to wrap up the composting series in a timely fashion, I’m removing these two topics as well. I’ll keep you informed of my progress as they move along.
That’s it for this article. I’ll release the final article in the Pat’s Composting Series later this week – it’s gonna be a good one, it’s a basic composting article with a nice graph showing the temperature over time of the final stage of the compost pile – interesting to study.
And now I’m interested in hearing from YOU. It’s almost May!! Planting season is well upon us in the northern hemisphere! What are you planting? What is your biggest problem so far this season? Are you excited to use compost tea this year in your garden? How’s the compost pile from last fall? Is everyone up there in the cold northern hemi working that fresh organic matter into their gardens and preparing for crop season? Please regale us with your tales – I’m dying of heatstroke here in the Philippines – it finally got hot (summer). So I’d love to hear from you about the cool crisp spring mornings spent working the soil, steaming from all those good microbes going about their work…
Leave a comment below to share your story.
Don’t have a garden yet this year? Why not?