What exactly is compost tea? Is it the next best thing in growing technology or another passing fad? More important, how do you decide which compost tea is most effective? ‘Teas’ made by soaking manure, compost or worm castings in water are not, in fact, compost tea; they are more accurately called compost extracts. Retail products called ‘plant teas’ are usually extracts. While these can be beneficial, advanced aerated compost tea is a more recent discovery with potential to completely change your whole ideas about cultivation.

Aerated Compost Tea

Good aerated compost tea looks like a murky brown liquid that has a rich, earthy smell. This liquid is alive, teeming with trillions of microorganisms, with a rich diversity of thousands of kinds of bacteria and fungi. The secret to all this life is the brewing process: air is forced through a mixture of high quality starter and complex microbial foods suspended in water. The oxygen and nutrients produce an extraordinary explosive growth of bacteria and fungi.

Consider that a teaspoon of good compost contains a billion or more bacteria. Given the right environment, bacteria can double in population every 20 minutes. In the normal brewing period of 12-48 hours, those microbes turn into countless numbers of beneficial organisms. Added to soil or hydroponic solution, the microbes quickly go to work converting everything around them into food for plants.

Bountea Brew Kits, available in both 4-gallon and 50-gallon sizes, are specially designed to provide the perfect aerobic environment to grow multitudes of microbes. They are simple, robust and easy to clean, giving reliable service for many years.

How does Compost Tea Work?
Making compost tea may sound unfamiliar, but the results can be extraordinary; the ideas behind it make intuitive and practical sense. The life in the soil and plants have grown up together, co-evolving over millions of years. The countless organisms in healthy soil – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, earthworms, and plant roots – form a living ecology called the soil food web. Prey and predator, catalyst and symbiote are interlocking pieces in a great web of life.

The underpinnings of this ecology are the microbes and their relationship with roots. Many microbes are drawn to plant roots that feed them tiny drops of sap. In exchange, these critters break down minerals into easily digestible forms and fix nitrogen from the air. In addition, microbes are food for other important members of the soil food web, and their dead bodies are super plant nutrition. Plants prefer their food pre-digested, just as we prefer our food cooked. On this diet, they grow stronger and healthier.

Compost tea is a means to enormously amplify the number and spread of these essential microbes. This in turn maximizes the natural nutrition available at the roots. Plants love it!

Compost Tea Ingredients
Compost Tea Starter
The quality of compost tea depends on its starter ingredient, the source of microbial life. Like the starter used in yogurt, everything depends on the microorganisms it contains. It is essential to use only the highest quality organic starter to make tea that will enrich the soil and feed your plants.

Most compost tea makers reach for vermi-compost or worm castings. These are easily available and have high levels of bacteria. One drawback is that worm castings may not have the necessary diversity of either bacteria or fungal spores.

Bountea uses only Alaska Humisoil, a fine-grained humus that is ethically harvested in Alaska. Extensively tested by independent laboratories, this humus harbors an extraordinary diversity of bacteria and beneficial fungi as well as natural volcanic minerals. It is guaranteed free of all pollutants and pathogens. Tea brewed with Humisoil is of the highest quality, exceeding in diversity any other starter.

Microbial Foods
Microbes are hungry. Like every living thing, they need to be fed. The art and science of compost tea brewing is knowing how much and which nutrients grow the right kinds of microbes.

Effective teas have a balanced blend of thousands of species of both bacteria and fungi. Why the concern for these different forms of microbial life? Fast growing, leafy plants prefer a more bacterially dominated environment for their roots, while woody-stemmed plants like it more fungal. In general, a balanced bacterial/fungal tea will produce great results across the board.

Bountea Bioactivator is a specially formulated blend of microbial nutrients and stimulants designed to create the most effective balance of bacteria and fungi in the compost tea. Organic sugars, humic acid, minerals, yucca and special proprietary ingredients ensure that Bountea Compost Tea is teaming with well-fed vigorous microbes.

The Bountea Compost Tea System
The highest quality Humisoil starter and the specially formulated Bioactivator produce premium compost tea. To further support the complex relationships of the soil food web, the Bountea System includes two added products, Root Web and Marine Mineral Magic M3.

Roots of trees, shrubs and most plants live in a symbiotic relationship with specialized fungi called mycorrhizae. These extend and enhance plant root systems and help transport nutrients over great distances. Root Web contains spores of mycorrhizae and other beneficial fungi that increase resistance to disease. Plants naturally grow stronger and healthier.

Soils are often deficient in minerals. Plants need added organic nitrogen during growth spurts. To provide both these essentials, the Bountea System also includes Marine Mineral Magic M3. As the name suggests, M3 contains high quality fish protein with a full spectrum of minerals and trace elements. When added to the Bountea Compost Tea, the microbes transform the nutrients in the M3 into superlative plant-available foods.

Used in the recommended manner, the ingredients of the Bountea Compost Tea System work together to create a powerful and holistic approach to growing. This is seen in the incredible results.

The Benefits of Bountea
Research results for ordinary compost tea are already impressive: enhanced soil fertility, stronger plant growth, decreased disease and higher yields. Tomatoes treated with compost tea resist blight; grass roots grow more vigorously; grape, banana, and avocado have higher production and less disease; seedlings show less damping off; lettuce and greens produce faster growth.

An important two-year research program by the Rodale Institute and Penn State University conclusively showed that aerated compost tea reduced powdery mildew on grapes by 50% and increased potato yields by 19%. Those potatoes had an extremely high mineral content.

Compost tea users say that the microbes in compost tea help break up impacted soils, particularly clay, reducing the need for added compost. Because microorganisms are so efficient in transforming minerals present in the soil, compost tea greatly cuts down on fertilizer use and can even clean up toxic chemicals.

Using the Bountea Compost Tea System creates even more extraordinary outcomes. John Evans, the developer of Bountea won nine World Records for giant vegetables, as well as over 400 awards for quality vegetables. He was able to grow a 19-pound carrot, a 75-pound swiss chard and a 49-pound celery (www.alaskagiant.com). More impressive is that these giants not only tasted good but were unblemished by disease or pests without the use of chemicals.

Users of the Bountea System are clearly overjoyed, as in this testimonial from Michelle Chunn of Boulder, Colorado:
“I no longer have to spend hundreds of dollars and backbreaking hours. With my applications of Bountea and a little peat moss top dressing, my garden is back to bursting with flowers and veggies and providing the beautiful tranquil retreat that reflects my labor of love.”
Kathleen York of Point Arena, California is similarly satisfied:
“It’s really hard to explain how amazing Bountea is. I finally realized that I just have to show people the results. Every gardener I know gets it immediately when they see my garden. Even non-gardeners can see that the plants in my garden are special.”

The Bountea System in Hydroponics
The Bountea System is designed to work primarily with soil but can easily be adapted to aerated hydroponic systems. Using the special microbes to convert nutrients into exceptional plant foods makes obvious good sense — and it is more ‘natural’ than chemicals.

Bountea Compost Tea contains the most important active ingredients of soil and creates a soil-like environment around hydroponically grown root systems. Because plants and microbes naturally live together, Bountea Compost Tea does not burn roots, so it is harder to make a mistake in solution concentration. As an added benefit, the mycorrhizae in the Root Web thrive in a balanced hydroponic solution and actively promote nutrient uptake.

With a little care and attention, the Bountea System can help recreate the most natural, complete, and productive environment for hydroponic plants.

Compost tea is at the cutting edge of growing technology. The Bountea Compost Tea System takes this methodology to the next level with a complete holistic approach that exceeds even the most optimistic expectations. Once you start brewing and see the amazing results, you are unlikely to ever go back to growing without Bountea.

In summary, with the Bountea System you can expect:
Stronger healthier plants
Larger, tastier fruits and vegetables
Healthy lawns
Resilient trees & shrubs
Increased produce yields
Disease and pest resistance
Decreased need for pesticides & fungicides
Less need for fertilizers & compost
Reduced water consumption
Long-lasting life in your soil
Now is the time to start growing the Bountea way.

Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. Teaming with Microbes. 2006.