Tea and buckwheat crumpets
This week has market yet another shift on the farm.
The days are hotter, the air wetter, clothing stinkier. Venturing into the coastal Texas deep summer has Alex and I both soaked and wondering how our little piece of land will fare during the next few months.
Alex spent some time on the tractor this week, discing and hilling beds that once held potatoes, lettuce, green beans, carrots and kale. It's time to give those stretches of soil a little R&R before calling upon them again for tomatoes, peppers, and other crops we hope will hold up during our second summer plantings.
We've been referring to those latter crops as Summer II, and I can't help but imagining the sweat-stained movie poter that would accompany. Soggy-pantsed twenty-somethings crawling amongst stinkbugs and marigold wreckage.
Summer II: It's Even Hotter
Summer II: Why Bother Showering?
Summer II: We Hope You Really Like Jalapenos, 'Cause It's All We'll Have.
But surely it won't be as bad as all that.
We sowed buckwheat and cowpeas as cover crops to help rejuvenate the soil, and set up our first ever compost tea this week, so I'm sure everything will go exactly as planned.
Or at least, we'll have some super juicy-fungal-and-bacterial-laden goodness to make us feel better.
Compost tea is exactly what it sounds like... a tea made with compost. Not so great in your porcelain, but excellent for your plants.
There are several different recipes you can find for compost tea with minor variations---some use fish emulsion, others liquid seaweed or molasses--but the basic equation remains
Compost + Water + Time = Compost Tea
Of course, the addition of a few other things make it even more funky, delicious and easy, so I'll give you a recipe run-down bsed on our most recent batch.
1. A high-quality compost, homemade or storebought.
2.One 5-gallon bucket
4. Molasses, food-grade.
5. An aquarium aerator (the little machine that makes bubblies for the fish).
6. Some kind of material to serve as your teabag ( this can be a sock, pantyhose, a well-tied rag... we used some pouch found under a seat in the truck---classy and professional)
The compost got dumped into the teabag. I situated the aerator as per its instructions. Water filled the bucket all the way. I added 2.5 oz of molasses ( the rule of thumb is roughly 1/2 oz per gallon of water). I stirred it up, then turned my aerator on and watched it bubble and brew, feeling very Macbethian.
Once this has brewed for roughly 8 hours ( or once the concoction smells pretty yeasty and less sweet from the molasses), you remove the teabag and let the potion bubble for roughly 15-20 more hours.
After brewing is complete, filter out the last bits of roughage and either pour the tea directly onto what you'd like to fertilize or dilute it according to your acreage and use a backpack sprayer, watering can, etc. Those gallons can cover about one acre of land. And most importantly, once the bubbler has been turned off, the tea begins to lose potency, ie the microbes will begin to die. Use it immediately and don't store it in your fridge next to the Snapple.
As you can tell, there's a lot of "roughly" here. I'm acquainting myself with compost tea, and so carry little expertise. A great man with GREAT hat style named the Dirt Doctor has lots of good pointers and recipes for compost tea. Plus, he's super suave.
Check him out if you're interested in making a tea for your own garden, lawn or favorite parsley plant.
And look for the Summer II: We Tasted the Tea trailer in an air-conditioned theatre near you soon.