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Compost Tea: Why & How

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I knew I was in a good place in Bridgton, Maine, Saturday morning when I walked into my Landscaping to Save the Lakes presentation at the Lakes Environmental Association’s 40th anniversary meeting and immediately spotted a dry wall bucket and rain barrel. Inside the bucket were a small air pump and nylon sock full of compost; the only missing ingredient for the makings of compost tea was the water.

With those sorts of props in place, it’s easy to lead the audience into a discussion of one of my favorite subjects: The Poop Loop. Just stating that phrase aloud elicits giggles . . . and the occasional scrunched up nose. The Poop Loop is not my term, but is rather a phrase coined by Dr. Elaine Ingham, the godmother of the organic gardening and food revolution in this country. In basic terms, the Loop explains that we get our energy from the sun and then recycle everything back into the soil as fertilizer — or at least we should be doing that. The Poop Loop is an explanation of sustainable agriculture and gardening in its most simple terms — that we all become worm food at some point in time if we don’t put a metal box around ourselves at the end of our time. It’s just the natural order of things.

The Poop Loop can also be called soil cycling, or mineralization, or the soil food web, which is another of Elaine’s coined phrases. And whatever you call it, the Loop is absolutely dependent on life in the soil, much of it microscopic that we can’t see with the naked eye.

And that’s where compost tea comes into play. By “brewing” biologically active liquid that we then spray onto our lawns and gardens, we’re inoculating the plants and soil with the life necessary for the Poop Loop to thrive.

Make sense? Well, for further clarity, here’s a link to one of Elaine’s articles on compost tea brewing from Fine Gardening magazine: http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/brewing-compost-tea.aspx
. For quite possibly the best layman” onclick=”javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/brewing-compost-tea.aspx/a.Forquitepossiblythebestlayman']);”s explanation of the life underground, check out Jeff Lowenfels’s book: http://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Gardeners-Guide-Soil/dp/0881927775. Come to think of it, the book would make a great Father’s Day gift . . . Have a great one.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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