DIY Compost Tea Brewer: How to make a compost tea brewer on a budget. (Under $50)

July 17, 2013 16 Comments

Update: We are always learning and have since found new information. 

 

So you want to brew your own compost tea huh? Well I can’t blame you. This stuff is better than anything you can pay for and will all the misinformation surrounding compost tea it would be foolish to have anyone else make it for you.

BEWARE of the Myths

1. Worm juice leachate is the same stuff.

No – Worm leachate is anerobic and not even close.

2. You’re supposed to put guano and nutrients in the tea.

No – this is compost tea. Not nutrient tea. The Nutrients will ruin the development of your diverse tea.

3. I can just buy bottles of Compost tea or Worm tea on ebay or online…. Why make it?

Tea doesn’t last and as soon as you stop brewing it you should use it right away. Never bottle it.

4. The guys on youtube promise excellent compost tea with a small aquarium pump.

Please avoid listening to any of this information. The best tea is proven to be made with a dissolved oxygen level above 6.0 ppm and the small aquarium pump isn’t even close. You might even make a tea that could cause problems in your garden. If you have to use an aquarium pump with a cheap airstone then keep the brew to a 1-2 gallon size, maybe a milk jug.

5. It’s finished when all foamy and sweet smelling, right?

No! It’s done when it’s done and without a microscope you should achieve the best results following the recipe in our Blog article, http://buildasoil.com/blogs/news/8322788-how-to-make-compost-tea-in-3-easy-steps

Now that you know about the myths, let’s get down to business.

The cheapest way to make a decent tea, without buying a microscope to verify, is to follow a proven recipe.

Here is a cheap method that will work just fine.

Purchase List:

1. 5 or 6 gallon food grade plastic bucket with lid. (Home Depot or Lowes $4.00 - $6.00)

Grower Pro Tip: You can get these for free at bakeries, restaurants etc. 

 

2. High Quality Air Pump: EcoPlus Commercial Air pump #1 will work for up to 15 gallons. ($35.00)

3. SweetWater Glass Air Diffuser: Highest quality best air stone on the market. 6” (few bucks) Google them and you will find a store that carries a few sizes.

You want the barb to fit into your tubing. (Sweetwater Air Diffuser, 6" L x 1.5" W, 1/2" NPT)

EDIT: The Above pump is rated at 1.34 CFM and the Sweetwater airstones are rated for specific cfm. Not only will this make the airstone produce larger airbubbles than normal, it will also produce back pressure on the pump and this will wear it out prematurely. This can hopefully be fixed by using 2-3 Airstones or purchasing a larger Airstone from sweetwater. Feel free to email me with questions. I'm no expert on the subject, but I don't want to spread any misinformation. 

4. PVC or ½” ID Braided Clear Tubing. Enough to go from your pump to the bottom of your bucket. (Few Bucks at ace hardware)

 

5. 1 or 2 Metal Clamp thing for the tubing to connect to the airpump and PVC or tubing.

 

Now that you have your items it’s time to put it together.

Do this anyway that you want. It’s simple. Google Compost tea bucket and you will get some ideas. Just don't short yourself on cheap pumps or a cheap air stone.

Connect the air stone to the Tubing or PVC and set the airs tone in the bottom of the bucket.

Run the tubing out of the bucket and connect to your air pump.

A few things about the air pump:

-        Remove the factory brass nozzle on the air pump and put the ½” ID tubing over the top of the small round male part where the air comes out. This will increase airflow dramatically!

-        You have to have the air pump above the tea bucket or you run the risk of ruining the pump when the power goes out or turns off.

You can leave the lid off and brew tea, of you can cut a hole in the lid and run the tubing for the air stone through the lid. The reason for this is that with only 4 gallons of water in the bucket it will still foam up and possibly overflow a little foam onto the floor.

Once you have your bucket setup with the powerful pump and proper diffuser air stone it’s time to brew some tea!!!

Remember, we have an article on brewing your own tea over here --> http://buildasoil.com/blogs/news/8322788-how-to-make-compost-tea-in-3-easy-steps

 

If you want to be positive that you have the best tea. Then you should get a microscope and do some serious reading. Otherwise I hope the above information was helpful in getting you started.

 

UPDATE:

 

Another great way of doing this. Get some PVC and make a simple airlift and use a clamp to keep it in place.

 

 

Video of it in action:




16 Responses

Patrick
Patrick

March 31, 2017

Airstones are actually not such a great idea – the small air bubbles can actually kill off a lot of bacteria and fungi in the brew. While the smaller bubbles will increase the surface area of water exposed to oxygen and hence increase the dissolved oxygen faster, a larger bubble source is gentler on the microbiology.

Sungrown
Sungrown

January 11, 2017

How can I figure out how many gallons of tea I can brew with a certain pump? I read that it should be a minimum of .08 CFM per gallon. How does that translate into GPH? I read that a 1744 GPH air pump used with an air lift brewer measures an average of 5.3 CFM, so it should be able to brew up to 66.25 gallons of tea at a time. How many CFM is a 1347 GPH EcoPlus Commercial pump? 3804 GPH EcoPlus Commercial Pump? How many gallons can each brew? I am using an air lift brewer.
Also, what is the best way to inject compost tea into a garden hose? I want to mix the compost tea with water while I am watering by hand with a hose. I am trying to avoid having to use a pump to deliver the tea to the plants and soil, because this takes extra time and electricity. I am growing in 5′ × 75′ raised beds. I have a hose faucet for each 3 beds. I was thinking about brewing about 40 gallons of tea for each 3 beds with its own injector system so I can water with teas (microbe teas, and guano teas) just as easily as watering with plain water. Any ideas for a good, inexpensive, and easy to use setup??

Lea
Lea

October 17, 2016

Can someone please help me understand the purpose of the air stone? I used to buy fresh worm casting tea for my garden, but moved and need to make my own, but can’t find anything that says why I need a air pump and air stone. Thanks a million in advance!

Alan Harris
Alan Harris

August 19, 2016

Did you get a do meter and compare oxygen levels between using air stones and an air lift. I’m I the process of building an actively aerated compost Brewer in 55 gallon barrel and contimplting which style to build. Obviously I would like to build whichever creates higher disolved oxygen levels using the same air pump. Thanks for you time doing the research for the rest of us.
Alan Harris

rich lamotte
rich lamotte

August 16, 2016

I would like to build a compost tea brewer. I have a 125 gallon tank and would like to use the brewed tea on pasture and crawfish fields. I have a base line of microbes in my soils and have a brew from a commercial lab. I have looked at the GEOTEA brewer. I just would like to be pointed in the right direction.
Richard LaMotte
richlamotte@gmail.com
18080 LaMotte Rd.
Welsh, La
337 515 5666
Thanks

Francine Fischl
Francine Fischl

June 10, 2015

Can you recommend a solar or off grid air pump?

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April 11, 2015

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April 10, 2015

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gordon
gordon

April 02, 2015

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chaba
chaba

March 30, 2015

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Tom
Tom

March 06, 2015

Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I purchased an Ecopump #1. I have a 2-way splitter each with a 6" airstone attached to prevent overworking the pump. II only brew 4 gallons of tea at a time. Could I get away with brewing tea with only one stone so the second stone could bubble my RO water in another tank. Am I overworking the pump with only 2 stones? Am I giving enough oxygen to my 4G compost tea with only one stone and half the air supply. Thanks brother

Curtis Preston
Curtis Preston

September 21, 2014

I had read on a different “DIY Tea Brewer” site that the diffuser stones are hard to clean, and so went w/a 3/4" PVC pipe that goes down to two bottom pipes w/lots of holes drilled in them. But everyone seems to use the stones…. Confused.

BuildASoil
BuildASoil

September 08, 2014

There are two ways of building a Compost Tea brewer.

Method #1 Airstone Method:

You can use the Airstone listed above and connect it directly to the Airpump with the Clear 1/2 Inch Inside Diameter Tubing like shown above.

If you want to build a Ridgid PVC line with 1/2" PVC you can use the same airstone with a different fitting: http://pentairaes.com/air-diffuser-6-l-x-15-w-1-2-npt-pe.html (this will connect to a threaded PVC end.

Also you could convert the Threaded one to fit by getting a Barbed to 1/2" Threaded PVC attachment and just have a couple inches of clear tubing connecting the airstone to the pvc.

Another note: The 6" inch sweetwater airstones are rated for .50 CFM and the EcoPlus 1 Airpump is 1.5 CFM which is too strong and will make larger airbubbles that we don’t want. The best way to get around this will be to use a threaded T attachment and connect Two of the ALR15 Airtstones to the PVC.

I’ll update as I build my new one and include photo’s to explain.

METHOD #2: Airlift

The Bottom Video and PVC instructions are not part of the above tutorial, they are showing the other way to make a compost tea brewer… the airlift, and that one doesn’t use an airstone…. I suppose you could do both!

I’m getting a dissolved oxygen meter this week and will update with my findings to make sure that anyone who builds this will do it properly.

arrow
arrow

July 31, 2014

I dont understand how the airstone attaches to the pvc piping set up in you diagram. I see a 1/2 barb to 1/2 threaded fitting…then what? the airstone goes on the inside of that fitting?

BuildASoil
BuildASoil

November 26, 2013

Hello Mr. Wood,

Your welcome!

Cleaning, take it apart in the sink with hot water and clean it really quickly. occasionally I’ll use Hydrogen Peroxide or bleach to clean the whole bucket and airstone etc but it really isn’t that hard to clean.

You don’t need a bag to hold the worm castings as the airstone is constantly pushing air out of it and won’t clog. That’s part of the reason for ordering that sweetwater airstone.

In Fact, the mesh bags often stifle the fungi growth and that alone is worth having no bag for me.

Absolutely!!! Keep all the solids in the tea and dump them into your plants when watering.

I’m excited for you!!!

Please, if you build one, take a photo and let us know how it goes.

Call me at 970-306-7645 or email me at Jeremy@BuildASoil.com with any questions you have during construction.

Thanks for the questions!!!

mrwood
mrwood

November 25, 2013

Thanks for the article. I appreciate your specific recommendations for the pump & diffuser!

- any advice on cleaning? wipe the tubing, and soak the diffuser in 3% hydrogen peroxide?
- I read your post on teas. No mesh bag in the brewer? No problems with the solids clogging the diffuser? Is it OK to keep the remaining solids in the tea if I am going to pour tea on root zone (no spraying)?

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