Aerated Castings Tea


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“Aerated Castings Tea”

 

Terms:

AACT stands for Actively Aerated Castings Tea – some people drop the extra A and just call it Aerated Castings Tea (“ACT”)

The term “VC” stands for Vermi Compost, AKA Worm Compost, AKA “Worm Castings”

(Castings is not the correct term – click here to see details on WHY)

 

Why Make AACT?

To make a LITTLE VC go a LONG way, and also for ease of some applications, VC is steeped in water, in a particular fashion.

Some use a system called “Actively Aerated Castings Tea” – where water, a little VC, and at your choice other additives, are aerated by, most commonly, an aquarium pump and air stone.

The resulting liquid is diluted with between 1 and 10 parts water, and may be used as a foliar spray or a soil drench.

Dilute 1:1 to use on the soil or 1:4 to spray on foliage. It can be diluted up to 1:10 for either soil or foliage if you need it to go a lot further (i.e. you have a lot of land/garden and too few castings)

 

How To Make AACT

Here is a simple recipe for 20 litres.

– Place two rounded cups of well aged castings, etc in some thing to strain the VC from the ACT later – eg , paint strainer bag, stockings or an old sock (this is called “the tea bag”)

(this mainly stops the tea clogging your spray bottle if that’s what you want to apply it with. You can also use a watering can – some people will, some won’t, strain it for a watering can. If you want to just pour it from a bucket or watering can, you do not have to have the strainer. Some people strain the solids out afterwards.)

– Place the teabag (or just the castings if not using a bag) in a 20 litre (5 gallon bucket) – it’s best to suspend the bag in the bucket, so it is off the bottom to allow the air to percolate through it. You can hang the tea bag from a stick etc.

– Not necessary (and some advise against it) – read cautions below – Some people add 1/2 cup molasses, first dissolved in a couple cups of warm water to make it easier to mix in.

– Fill the water to a few inches from the top of the bucket.

– Don’t cover the bucket.

(Some use rain water. Some people let the water sit overnight before using it to let the chlorine evaporate. Some people use fish tank drops to get rid of the chlorine/chloramine)

 

Mixing method #1 (“Simple method”)

(some say this is as good, some say it’s not as good as method #2)

Mix vigorously with a wide paddle (i.e. a piece of wood) as often as you can be bothered – several times a day at least for 24 to 36 hours – don’t mix longer than this else the good bacteria will die off and bad bacteria will flourish (anaerobic bacteria)

 

***  Caution re pathogens using this method ***


The caution is that if there are pathogens in the VC, especially from un-composted animal manure inputs, or uneaten foods, that there could be pathogens in the VC. If so the process will also make the BAD bacteria bloom as well – more so with this mixing method as the next method uses an air pump to flood the mix with oxygen, which may benefit the good microbes more.


VC should be well aged, to the proper age as specified in Vermiculture Technologies:

– 365 days in a windrow

– 120 days in a bin/batch/wedge (common domestic worm farm)

– 60 days in a Continuous Flow Through Farm

Aerated teas should not be applied to the leaves of edible plants – my recommendations is DO NOT APPLY to these AT ALL – but at least a 120 day with holding period is wise.

 

Mixing method #2 (“more technical method”)

 

– Aerate with aquarium air pump and stone

– Suspend stone a little off the bottom of the container

– Aerate for 24 to 36 hours. Don’t mix longer than this else the good bacteria will die off and bad bacteria may flourish (anaerobic bacteria)

After using you will have to clean the airstone. Bacteria builds a film on it and it will stop working)

Sometimes the ACT will foam, sometimes not.

Foam is not an indicator of potency etc.

 

 

***  Caution re pathogens using this method***


The caution is that if there are pathogens in the VC, especially from un-composted animal manure inputs, or uneaten foods, that there could be pathogens in the VC. If so the process MAY also make the BAD bacteria bloom as well – less so with this mixing method as it uses an air pump to flood the mix with oxygen, which may benefit the good microbes more.


VC should be well aged, to the proper age as specified in Vermiculture Technologies:

– 120 days in a bin/batch (common domestic worm farm)

– 60 days in a Continuous Flow Through Farm

 Aerated teas should not be applied to the leaves of edible plants – my recommendations is DO NOT APPLY to these AT ALL – but at least a 120 day with holding period is wise.

 

Variations on aerating methods (instead of an air pump & air stone):

 

  1. Some people will use a piece of plastic pipe into the bottom of the bucket, with holes drilled in it, to replace the airstone. The advantage of this is ease of cleaning, and not having to replace the airstones when they eventually become blocked.
  2. Some people will use a plastic pipe in the bucket, and pump the air into the bottom of it, at the top the pipe is angled along the rim of the bucket, so that the water is “air lifted” and stirs the bucket, while aerating the water. This is called a “vortex” or “air lift” brewer.

 

Directions for using:

– Use immediately (generally within 1 day.)

– Do not store as the good bacteria die off and bad bacteria flourish again

– DO NOT seal into an airtight container (the good bacteria die off and bad bacteria flourish again)

– Dilute 1:1 to use on the soil or 1:4 to spray on foliage, or up to 1:10 if you want it to go a LONG WAY

***  Caution re pathogens using this method***

Do NOT Use As A Foliar Spray On Edible Leaf Plants (As A Precaution:)


The caution is that if there are pathogens in the VC, especially from un-composted animal manure inputs, or uneaten foods, that there could be pathogens in the VC. If so the process MAY also make the BAD bacteria bloom as well.

 

If using a sprayer, you may like to strain it well to remove solids so they don’t block the sprayer. Generally the lowest pressure you can spray at  will be better (dont pump the bottle up very hard, or use a simple atomiser) – there is some evidence that higher pressures will harm microbes etc.

 

***** CAUTION Re Use On EDIBLE Leaf Plants *****

 

Do not apply on leafy greens/ vegetables youre going to harvest to eat (use ground drench only on these gardens, being careful not to get it on the edibles. This is a simple precaution)

Aerated teas should not be applied to the leaves of edible plants – my recommendations is DO NOT APPLY to these AT ALL – but at least a 120 day with holding period is wise.

The used castings from the tea can be returned to the worm farm to be “recharged” or used on a plant.

Precautions about using molasses:

The only precaution if using molasses and or not using an air pump is to use well aged castings so there is reduced danger of things like e.coli.

The story is that molasses will build the colony of good AND bad bacteria, moreso if not using an forced air aerating system.

Supposedly the air pump flooding it with oxygen favors the good bacteria.

I’ve not heard of any problems, but this is the cautionary side of me, telling you what I’ve heard.

I also hear its why Dr Elaine Ingham (www.soilfoodweb.com) no longer advises using molasses at all.