Tea Time

Compost expert Peter Schmidt
Compost expert Peter Schmidt explains how to brew compost tea.

Healthy soil is essential to a thriving garden, and with the growing season fast approaching, now is the time to think about improving yours by adding compost. It’s rich in nutrients, improves water retention capacity, and reduces organic waste. Most gardeners know this in theory, but even the most experienced horticulturists have nagging questions about how exactly to use it. Will there be enough room to work it into the soil in established container plantings? Can rooftop gardens handle any more weight? How can it be applied to hard to reach spaces where the soil is already covered by mulch? Won’t it make a lawn messy? And sometimes there just isn’t enough solid compost to go around. Compost tea is a simple, easy solution that addresses all of these concerns. BBG’s own gardeners use it for the Garden’s trees, shrubs, and lawns, in the Children’s Garden, in the Warm Temperate and Tropical Pavilions, as well as in the Discovery Garden Greenhouses and have see fantastic results.

Compost tea is brewed from fully decomposed organic materials. A well-made batch contains all the beneficial microorganisms and nutrients of solid compost but takes up less space. It’s teeming with beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes, and a little bit can go a long way. One five-gallon bucket of a finished brew can feed up to 10,000 square feet of turf grass. Moreover, studies show that, when sprayed on the leaves, compost tea helps suppress pests and diseases.

Compost expert Peter Schmidt can tell gardeners everything thing they need to know to make high-quality compost and compost tea, and he’ll be teaching a workshop for professionals on March 15th. Read the workshop description to learn more.


Comments

March 18, 2012
Andrew Harms

I’m interested in community composting. I live in Carroll Gardens and have discovered the Farmers Market here doesn’t offer a composting bin. When I’ve asked, there have been several issues mentioned that get in the way of starting a compost drop-off here. 

I’d like to learn more about the composting networks here in Brooklyn, (and Manhattan) and if it might be possible to round up enough interest to get one started in the neighborhood. Any suggestions or pointers would be most appreciated.


April 2, 2012
Jenny Blackwell, NY Compost Project in Brooklyn

Hi Andrew: We love to hear about NYC citizens’ interest in starting new community compost sites! First of all, the best thing to do is familiarize yourself with your neighbors who are composting.  There are a number of community gardens and compost drop-offs in your neck of the woods, and if you feel that they are too far away for your surrounding area to work with them, maybe it’s time to think about starting your own!

Gardenmaps.org is a great place to start. Zoom in on community gardens in Carroll Gardens and find out if they are composting or not. If they aren’t, maybe they would be open to your starting a compost bin for the garden and the neighborhood. Another work in progress is the online Brooklyn Compost Map (http://habitatmap.org/markers?maps=733#). Again, search your neighborhood to find if there are places to join a composting network. Also, visit successful community gardens and compost sites and find out how to replicate what they are already doing well!

Check out our website at bbg.org/compost for upcoming workshops to learn more about how to compost. And lastly, email our Compost Helpline if you have more questions we can answer: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Good luck!


October 17, 2013
Sabrina Cedeno

This is amazing! Will you be having another workshop?


October 17, 2013
Jenny Blackwell, NY Compost Project in Brooklyn

We may schedule something for spring/summer next year. Compost tea instruction is a part of our Brooklyn Master Composter Certificate Course, so perhaps you might be interested in that. We also previously hosted a Compostwerks workshop at BBG, which is geared toward professionals at a bigger scale.



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