Compost tea is a water extract of compost that is full of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes which is applied to your lawn at least once a year. It is brewed for 24 hours and must be used in six hours, before the biological combination in the mix uses all the oxygen and becomes anaerobic. The soil organisms we add store nutrients, fix nitrogen, break down organic matter, and decompose toxins. They improve soil structure, water retention, and promote root growth.
Recently, I was listening to the radio while driving along with my kids. A Harvard entomologist was talking about the demise of pollinating insects such as bees and other species. He bemoaned the American obsession with “bugs and weeds”. He insisted that insects and wild flowers were beautiful and did many useful things in the environment. Of course, my teenager insisted on changing the station to one with commercials. An ad immediately popped up for a chemical lawn fertilizer and pesticide company, “wishing you a bug free summer”.
We apply compost tea to revitalize, and in some cases, establish, the soil biology to maintain a healthy soil. Every chemical based pesticide, fungicide, herbicide and fertilizer tested harms some of the beneficial life that exists in the soil. We check out each batch of compost tea under the microscope to make sure we have plenty of bacteria, fungi, nematodes and protozoa. We like our bugs.
It certainly is easier to grow an organic lawn in a healthy soil. And it’s always good to remember that the plant doesn’t actually grow in the soil, but in the spaces between the soil particles. A healthy soil is 25% air, 25% water and 50% mineral and organic matter. What binds these soil particles together, while keeping those spaces open, is the soil biology. Fungal strands (miles in a teaspoon of soil) and the glue produced by bacteria (billions in a teaspoon of soil) and the activity of all the soil biology make a soil healthy.