Feeding your plants with organic teas

weed tea

What’s good Greenies and welcome to another insightful Wisdom Wednesday from me, ThisBuds4You. This week we’re checking in with my man The Rev, Senior Expert Cultivator over at Skunk Magazine. The Rev talks a lot about True Living Organics (TLO). If you haven’t heard of Skunk Magazine I HIGHLY recommend you go grab one (pun intended). The Rev also has a “Best Of” issue of Skunk Magazine; you can pick it up here. Last week I wrote about the Moonshine Mix and how one can grow a plant from start to finish with just feeding the plant with plain water. While you can grow buds using just water with the Moonshine Mix I do recommend that you give your plants a few pick-me-ups throughout the grow cycle. Since the Moonshine Mix is a super-rich, all organic living soil we really don’t want to use chemicals on it to give it boosts. We want to keep all the living fungi and bacteria in the soil healthy and thriving. We do this by using organics, teas specifically, to feed our rich soil. The Rev wrote a great article for Skunk about organic teas back in 07, check it out.

Organic Tea Party with The Rev

Welcome brothers & sisters. In this installation of Living Organics, we’re going to learn about the glory of organic compost teas. But I’m not talking about the Celestial Seasonings sitting on your grocer’s shelf. If you’re growing in soil and want to learn how to come closer to maximizing the potential of your genetics, read on. You’ll learn how to create, administer, and benefit from a largely underutilized technique that has produced some stellar results for me over the years.

You may recall from some of my past articles the nutritional benefits of soil microlife for cannabis plants in fully organic environments. To get a better idea of the advantages of teas, note that a teaspoon of compost contains about one billion beneficial microscopic organisms. However, a teaspoon of organic tea is populated by about four billion microbeasties. Another advantage is that pot plants benefit immediately from teas. Think of teas as organic steroids for your plants.

Not Just For Roots

Teas are not only beneficial for your plant roots,but also for leaves. I like to spray a bit on the leaves in a topical application. The benefit comes from the “coating” of microbes that you create on the leaf when you spray it. This basically muscles out any bad microbes. Be sure to cover atleast 70% of the leaf surface with the tea-spray, ensuring that you get both the tops and bottoms.

Fungus vs. Bacteria

Most teas are bacteria-dominant. However, in flowering, fungus is a tremendous benefit to your plants.I wouldn’t stress this if I hadn’t seen for myself what a difference the fungi make. Organic plants are all about fungi when flowering. If the fungi aren’t present, there’s just no way to push your plants to the limits of yield and quality.In fact,fungi-dominant teas are so good that they’re the trick to achieving yields that border on those produced in finely tuned hydroponic environments.

Fungus takes longer to grow than bacteria. In the population race, bacteria always outgrows fungi by a large margin. Thus, when making a fungi-dominant tea, you have to give the fungi a head start.

Fungus plays a special role during flowering, delivering things such as phosphorous to the plants roots.They also breakdown secondary mineral nutrients and ammonium nitrogen available to the roots.Bacteria then convert the ammonium nitrogen to nitric nitrogen.Both varieties of nitrogen, ammonium and nitric, can be used by a cannabis plant and help it grow vigorously.

Nitric Nitrogen:Makes the plants grow shorter & wider,with closer node spacing.

Ammonium Nitrogen: Causes some stretch in the plant.

Nutrient Flexible

Teas can provide your plants with more than good bacteria.If your plant are lacking food or you encounter a problem that you need to correct,teas are an excellent vehicle for infusing your soil with nutrients.

Personally, I utilize teas mostly to provide my plants with fungi. How many nutrients you should add to you tea depends on what you already have in your particular soil (and needs of your plants).I pack my soil with tons of long-term nitrogen,phosphorous,and potassium,so I don’t have to worry about the tea playing the role of nutrient provider.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Bacteria

The only real gotcha with organic teas is aeration.You must continually aerate your organic teas.Why? There are two types of bacteria that can develop in you tea : Aerobic and Anaerobic.Anaerobic doesn’t need oxygen and is nasty stuff.If you ever smell your tea and it stinks of sewer,don’t use it!It means that there’s anaerobic activity.A good tea that’s rich in aerobic activity will smell like very rich soil (the kind that’s teaming with earthworms).Anaerobic teas are bad for more reasons than the fact that they literally smell like shit.They can also manifest E. Coli and introduce things like alcohols,which can kill your plants fast.Good aeration isn’t just to supply oxygen to your plant roots.It’s also a catalyst that teases the microbes and protozoa out of the compost-or earthworm castings,in the case of vermicompost-without killing them.After the continuous bubbling pushes them out, they consume the nutrients and simple sugars in your tea and multiply in a big way (creating the microlife boom that will,in turn,produce a bust,wherein large numbers of microbes will die their carcasses will nourish your plants’ roots).

Thou Shalt Not

There are certain varieties of compost and brewing conditions that should be avoided when brewing a batch of organic tea.

Chlorine: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Never use chlorinated water on organic soil! This obviously includes teas. But if your only source of water is chlorinated, don’t freak out. Simply drop an airstone in an uncovered container of the water for 24 hours. Your chlorine problems will be gone.

Compost Leachates: This is just compost squeezed and pressed.It’s not very nutrient rich.But it’slack of nutrients isn’t the problem (remember,using teas as a vehicle for transporting nutrients to your plants is a supplemental benefit).The problem is anaerobic activity,which can spell death for your plants.

Compost Extracts: While these provide more nutrient value than compost leachates,they still contain anaerobic activity (the big “I’m a dumbass” move in the world of organic teas).

Violent Aeration: Aeration is your friend and the key to a potent tea that’s teaming with good bacteria. But too much aeration on the scale that provides an excessive amount of agitation and turbulence to the tea-is a bad thing becuase it will actually beat the microbeasties to death! Be gentle with the teas; remember that they’re teeming with microbes!

Ultraviolet/HID/Sunlight: Avoid any high intensity lights or sunlight.Instead,use “normal” house lighting,such as florescent or tungsten.However,avoid any light source near your tea brewer.Regular room lighting is fine,but-as a rule of thumb-dimmer is better.

Mother Mary’s Tea Recipes:

*The measurments below are for a one gallon tea bubbler. When making teas in smaller containers,simply adjust the recipe or dilute the final tea with water.

*In these recipes, brew the tea with an airstone in a one gallon container for 24 to 48 hours. When you’re done brewing, strain it through a nylon stocking (for topical/sprayer applications) or a standard strainer (for normal watering applications) and cut it 50/50 using dechlorinated water.

*Fungi-dominant tea compost should be mixed together and kept very wet for three to seven days prior to brewing. Store it high in a room, near the ceiling and in the dark. The microlife and fungi populations will really bloom if you place a heating pad-set to low-below the container (shoot for 68-75 degrees fahrenheit;20-24 degrees celsius). After three days,it will be visibly booming with fungus (what I call “Santa’s Beard”). Put this in your tea brewer and bubble it (in place of regular compost).

*Prepare for the container to foam up and bubble over. You should place a tray under your tea bubbler and avoid any electrical or other items that may be damaged or unsafe around the bubbling water.

Vegetative Stage Recipe:

* One Gallon Water *: R/O water,rain water,distilled etc. etc.

* One Teaspoon Black Strap Molasses (unsulfured)1-0-5)*:
Be sure to use only the unsulfured variety.This is because sulfur kills microlife,especially fungus (unless it’s elemental sulfur in small ratios).

* One Teaspoon liquid Alaskan Fish Fertilizer (5-1-1)*:
Fungus and bacteria both love fish ferts and go nuts reproducing when it’s included.

* One Cup Earthworm Castings (vermicompost) or good outdoor compost*:
Vermicompost provides humates,enzymes,protozoa,nemat odes,bacteria,fungus,trace elements,secondary and primary nutrients.

* One Teaspoon Fox Farms Peace Of Mind All Purpose (5-5-5) *:
Food for the microlife that balances the pH of the tea (to about 6.5-7.2).

Flowering Stage Recipes:

* One Teaspoon Black Strap Molasses (unsulfured) (1-0-5) *:
An excellent source of potassium during flowering;bacteria prefer these simple sugars,whereas the fungus prefer more complex sugars derived from various organic matter.

* One Teaspoon Fox Farms Peace Of Mind All Purpose (5-5-5) *:
Food for the microlife that balances the pH of the tea (to about 6.5-7.2).

* One Teaspoon High Phosphorous Bat Guano (0-4-0) *:
Fungi love this nutrient and will deliver it to the plant roots.

* One cup Earthworm Castings (vermicompost) or regular compost *:
Good balance of nutrient (trace and secondary).Also a source for microbes and beneficial elements.

* One teaspoon Maxicrop liquid or 1/2 teaspoon water soluble Maxicrop or kelp/seaweed extract (dry) *:
A fungal favorite,this is a key tea ingredient that produces a good ratio of happy fungus.It’s also booming with trace elements,some nitrogen,and some potassium.

* 1/4 teaspoon Micronized (soft) Rock Phosphate *:
Fungus attach to the rock phosphate and grow on it.Also a prime source for phosphorous,magnesium & sulfur.

Fungus Dominant (halfway through flowering) Recipes:

* 1/2 cup Earthworm Castings *:
See above.

* 1/2 cup Mushroom Compost *:
This is fungus waiting to happen.A rich source of fungal spores and dense organic matter that fungi like to eat.

* Two tablespoons Powdered,100% Natural rolled oats *:
Fungi love this nutrient and will deliver it to the plant roots.

* Two teaspoons Kelp Meal *:
I use kelp meal for several reasons.It’s organic matter that fungi like to attach themselves to.Fungi love kelp extracts as a primary food source and the rich trace elements and potassium it introduces.

* 1/4 teaspoon Micronized (soft) Rock Phosphate *:
Fungus attach to the rock phosphate and grow on it.Also a prime source of phosphorous,magnesium and sulfur.

The earthworm castings,mushroom compost,oatmeal,and kelp meal are first mixed together and made very wet.After fungus has grown on this blend,place it in your tea bubbler for 24 hours with some additional liquid (or water soluble) kelp/seaweed extract and Micronized (soft) rock phosphate.

Feeding your plants with organic teas
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