Marcia or Marsha – I agree to whichever one you like.

Compost Tea Brewing

Ingredients in, power on, thunderbirds are go.

In the previous post Compost Tea Brewer I detailed how to make a brewer and that I would let you know how it went. I am surprised and impressed. It went better than I expected.

With  these sort of remedies or therapies for plants it is a little bit like voodoo, there is no real scientific evidence to justify the claims of how good they are. I had always thought that brewing microbes would be of benefit to plants but had no real way of finding evidence based on measurable results. And at heart, I am a bit of a sceptic until I have proven it for myself.

Cyclone Marsha dumped a lot of rain on Brisbane

My gardens were under water in some parts even though they are raised beds. Most of the plants survived but the zucchinis were facing a battle. The rain had stopped and it was pretty obvious that the garden had been flooded, depriving the root systems of the zucchinis of oxygen. It didn’t look like they would survive.

Compost tea to the rescue

Drowned at birth by Cyclone Marcia. Will compost tea help them survive?

Compost Tea Brewer

While it was raining I was making my brewer. When it stopped raining, I set the brewer up outside and ran air through the tap water in the bucket for 24 hours to remove the chlorine. Chlorine kills bacteria.

My Compost Tea Recipe

Different recipes for the brew can be found by searching the net for a while. All the ones I found have pretty precise instructions and amounts that must be used. I’m not that precise. Most recipes for a bacterial brew suggest compost or worm castings, blackstrap molassed and raw sugar, liquid kelp, fish hydrolosate through to oatmeal and rock dust.

I use a pretty rough approach. Throw it in and see what happens.

  • 1 scoop of worm castings (this is where the good bacteria are)
  • throw in some milk (food for the bacteria)
  • throw in some honey (more food for the bacteria)

I didn’t have any of the recommended additives so just used what I had available. I reckoned milk had to be a good source of sugars, protein and calcium and the honey would be a further source for the lactose intolerant microbes (sarc). I will throw in some oatmeal next time as I have plenty in the cupboard for my meusli.

I also know there are properties in milk that are beneficial for the soil. I will put together a pdf or ebook regarding milk and soil and my experiences one day.


After the brew was completed, 24 hrs, I strained it through the nylon bag into the 15 litre sprayer. I didn’t dilute it as the bacteria will die due to lack of oxygen. There are too many in there and the air has stopped.

Your saw the images of the distressed zucchinis. Have a look at them now. Although they are still looking like they have been in a war zone they have some extremely good looking leaves without a trace of powdery mildew even though it has been extremely humid since the rain. They are even fruiting again.

Results of compost tea recipe application

I feel sure that the application of the compost tea recipe has helped the zucchinis to recover

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that milk is a better fungicide for powdery mildew than all of the chemical fungicides.  My experience as a certified organic grower in greenhouses growing cucumbers supports that evidence.

Based on the results of this brew, I reckon we have multiplied the beneficial bacteria and helped the zucchini recover from the flooding and hopefully improved their immunity to pests and diseases.

The other benefit was the decrease in grasshoppers in the sweet potatoes and soybeans. It is claimed that grasshoppers are lactose intolerant (not sarc) and will vacate the premises if it is sprayed around.

Before this bacterial/milk spray I had sprayed with chilli/garlic. It lowered grasshopper numbers but it didn’t take long for them to rebuild to the point where if I disturbed the sweets or beans they would be jumping everywhere. Not so a week after spraying with the milk/bacteria.