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Fungal Tea Recipe

Discussion in 'Organic Growing' started by Chunk, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. #1 Chunk, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2010
    I wanted to share a recipe for a fungal dominant tea with the organic community here at GC. Some of you have seen some of the pics of my plant's responses when fed these teas during the flowering period.

    My last grow, the recipe was about the same, except this time I cultured a fungi colony in my wormcastings prior to brewing, To start with, you will need some good compost, and for my tea, I used fresh wormcastings from a local worm farm. Worm castings have both bacterial and fungal microbes, and for this tea, I wanted to give the fungi a kick in the ass before brewing so they would multiply more rapidly, rather than just grow larger. By culturing the fungi in the compost first, I could begin the brew with a reasonable expectation of high fungi counts.

    While there is really not any good way to accurately ascertain the fungal/bacterial counts without a microscope,( here is a great site on microbes and microscopes) I felt that by following these protocols, I would have a good chance of producing a fungally active tea.


    To 5 cups of fresh worm casts, (pic 1) I added 10 tbsp. of oat flour (pic2) you can also use oat bran/soybean meal or powdered malt, and 2 tbsp of glacial rock dust (pic3). I mixed these ingredients together while dry until fully mixed. I then added enough water to be able to clump this mixture into a ball with a small amount of water runoff when squeezed.

    Next, i put this mixture in a warm place on my seedling heat mat that keeps the mixture at about 80` F. After about 3-4 days, the mixture has a layer of mycelium fuzz growing all over it. (pic 4) The mixture will shrink away from the sides of the container and be firm, much like a drying clump of mud.

    I'll then put the mixture into a paint filter bag that hangs in the middle of my 7 gallon tea brewer. You can use a nylon also. You want the filter to contain the compost mixture, but allow the fungal hyphae to pass through the sieve without damaging the strands.

    Into the brewer, I'll add about 5-6 gallons of my well water. If your water is chlorinated, you need to let it sit out for 1-2 days to off gas the chlorine. Lake, river or pond water is a bonus if available.

    To this water, I'll add a couple of shot glasses full of liquid fish hydrolysate, 3 tbsp of liquid kelp (ascophyllum nodosum) and 2 tsp of a liquid humic/fulvic acid(see pic 5) molasses, and thats it.

    I'll only add 1 tbsp of molasses to this brew. Molasses is a good food source for microbes, but bacterial microbes seem to like it more, and the other foods I put in are more fungi friendly( fish hydrolysate/kelp/humic acid). You can also add kelp meal and/or powdered rock phosphate.

    I use an Eco-Plus[​IMG] commercial air 5 pump on my brewer. The more air your pump delivers, the shorter brew time for your tea. For my purposes, and not having a microscope to view the microbes, I decided to brew this batch at least 24 hours. Most home made brewers should brew for at least 18 hours and up to 36 hours to get the most out of your brew. The amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) your tea gets directly affects your bacteria/fungi count.

    Tomorrow I'll begin brewing this batch, and follow up with more details. If anyone has any advice to share with me or the community, please post it. I'm stoked to see the interest growing here in the Organics forum, and welcome the exchange of information and ideas.

    Take care all,


    Attached Files:

  2. #2 gdaddypurp21, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2010
    Great info, I'll have to give that a try come flower time. I was wondering, I'm not sure if your aware of the Rice fermentation method, but if you are could this be done in a fungally dominated area in the woods, and produce the same results after fermented with mollasses?
    Btw (For all of you reading, and wanting a ACT brewer) I found a pretty good deal on a Compost tea brewer. Now please don't think I'm saying this is top of the line material, but it is usable, and it's pretty durable. Also comes with a bag of Artic Humus, and Compost tea bags for those of you confused on where to start! Best of all it's only 9.99$ plus shipping. www.groworganic.com/item_e142_5_gallon_bucket_with_tear_tab_fo.html
    1 Cup EWC or Mushroom Compost
    1 tbsp Kelp Meal
    1tbsp Humic Acid
    1 tbsp Mollasses
    1tbsp Fish Hydrosylate and Liquid Kelp Extract
    *Sometimes (at the very end of brewing) I add a tsp-tbsp Mychorizzal fungi. Mostly I just do this when the plants weren't exposed to it during transplant.
  3. Chunk- Nice recipe with some good ideas.

    I use the eco plus 3, and your recipe is very close to what I have been doing.

    1 cup EWC
    1 tbs molasses
    1 tbs humic
    1 tbs / gallon fish hydrolysate

    I can say with just that, after 18-24 hrs I have a good amount of fungal hyphae under a microscope. With the mix you have, you for sure have a strong fungal tea.

    My recipe is changing as we speak, but that one above has produced solid results.
  4. Chunk, great post dude. Thanks for sharing with us your ACT method.

    Using a 7 gallon brewer you end up with "x" gallons of tea. All of what I've read on ACT's is that the tea needs to be used quickly after brewing to benefit from the microbial growth. That said, what do you do with the remainder of the tea say 24 - 48 hours (or longer ?) after brewing it? Do you then use it as an extract for nutrient value versus an ACT for microbial value? It seems such a waste to toss it out or into the compost heap. And finally, what is your application rate and frequency for your container size?

    Thanks blood!
  5. chunkdaddyo

    To borrow from another science, i.e. baking bread and specifically the process of growing the mother culture to create sourdough breads. A more accurate name is 'wild yeasts' vs 'sourdough' because that's what you're doing during the 7-10 day fermentation process - grabbing wild yeasts from the air around you.

    A couple of items that are used by old-school bakers to grow beneficial yeasts, fungi and bacteria is to use fresh ground organic rye seeds (my preference) as the base of the initial starter or the skins from organically grown grapes. The 'dust' on a grape in and around where the stem attaches to the fruit is almost 100% beneficial fungi - a 'mold' as it were.

    Just something to consider perhaps.....

    Have you seen the Eco Plus 7? With the obligatory 'good bro deal' from DaDude at one of the indoor garden centers <snerk> in Portland they're selling this unit for under $115.00.

    If the numbers are accurate and I'm assuming that they're not but even knocking 20% off the claim of 200 LPM which drops you down to 160 LPM so that is something like 45 GPM - you are still good to go for brewing 50 gallons at a time.

    I'm not familiar with the Eco Plus line of air pumps so I can't speak to their long-term viability but at the price of $115.00 with a 1-year warranty it's not much of a risk.

    The aeration system in the cistern would probably need some good planning to handle the volume of air that the Eco Plus 7 is capable of producing.

    Great tea recipe!

    Are you using the Acadian Seaplants Seaweed Extract product? Just curious.

  6. #6 LumperDawgz, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2010

    Strictly speaking there isn't all that much nutritional value in an AACT from the traditional N-P-K perspective. In brewing an AACT the process is to extract the microbes from the compost with massive amounts of air bubbles. It's the air bubbles and the turbulence created that knocks these microbes into the water with fungi being the most difficult to dislodge. The addition of rock dust is helpful as it provides an anchor for the fungi to hold onto - kinda like a circus trapeze performer.

    The longer that you brew a tea past it's prime you start getting into some rather weird areas. First the bacteria dominate the tea - still beneficial bacteria but this domination comes at the expense of the fungi colonies.

    The bacteria colonies basically breed themselves to oblivion (or at least a high body count) and the next group to take over is either nematodes or protozoa.

    Put the extra tea on your outdoor flowers, lawn, whatever.


  7. Thanks Lump. I still have not connected all the dots for the correct use of an extract. I'm unclear on the useful life after brewing an extract and I'm unsure on the science of application strength/dosage.

    I think I'm getting it for the ACT/AACT methods. But brewing many gallons worth of ACT's and using only a small pct of the overall brew and having the remainder being of questionable longer term use seems to be rather inefficient. But, since we're using an ACT only once (maybe twice?) during the life-cycle is the waste trade-off vs benefit of little concern to us?

    I just haven't had the "aha" moment yet for these two seperate processes (extract and ACT) and how I should be correctly using each over the 90 - 120 day life-cycle of the grow.
  8. #8 LumperDawgz, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2010

    Out here in the proverbial real world, a 5-gallon AACT is diluted to achieve 50 gallons ready to be sprayed on a field, orchard, etc. 50 gallons of diluted tea is the amount generally used on an entire acre.

    The goal is to introduce beneficial microbes to poor soils and on the branches and leaves it's applied to provide a defense agains molds (powdery mildew as one example, etc) - they are not in and of themselves a fertilizer or nutrient in the traditional sense.

    So here's my condensed version - build a good solid potting soil and don't skimp on the organic material (compost and/or EWC) and when you apply a tea you'll be kick-starting the microbial colonies in your potting soil.

    Growing in potting soil, the chance that you will be successful taking mediocre potting soil and making it a great soil probably isn't going to happen. Even outdoors in a raised bed for example - you could apply an AACT each and every week to mediocre soil and it's still going to take a couple of years to achieve a result you're looking for and that's with adding large amounts of compost/humus between growing seasons.

    Build the best soil that you can given what's available and using the AACT as a shot in the arm will probably get you where you're wanting to go with your garden.


  9. Chunk, apologies if i hijacked your thread with my boring "extract vs ACT thing".

    Your op rocks man!:yay:

  10. i dont have enough $$ for a brewer or anything but i do have enough for a paint strainer bag.. can i get away with using a stick or something to stir-it-up?? and if so what is the cheapest tea ingredient to buy that will still be worth it. P.S. i can just pour the tea in the soil without straining.:wave:

    To get the most effective tea you really need to have a brewer that introduces dissolved oxygen into the "brew". Simply stirring won't agitate it enough to be of any benefit.

    It really isn't that expensive to build a DIY brewer that will give you a usable, viable AACT. Here is an easy to build, low cost tutorial that will help you get started. An aquarium pump from WalMart and some airlines, with a bucket and a strainer bag should cost you no more than 25 bucks. You want to make sure you brew the tea for at least 24-36hrs, as the aquarium pump doesn't put out as much air as the commercial grade pumps.

    The must have ingredients in your tea are compost and molasses. Worm castings are the preferred compost most use, but you can use other composts as well. Mushroom compost will help your tea be more fungi oriented.

    Molasses is a food source for the micro-organisms that you will create in your brewer. You can also use honey, blue agave nectar, pure maple syrup, or even juice, but molasses is the most used.

    There are dozens of other things you can add to your tea for diversity, but the basics I've laid out will get you started.

    As far as your question about stirring with a stick, you can just throw a cup or two of compost into a bucket of water and stir, then apply as a soil drench. This will give you a very mild fertilizer, but won't significantly boost the microbes in the root zone.

    Read through the Tea Recipe Sticky to get an idea of the various teas and their uses to help you to understand better how AACT's work.


  12. Chunk, I'm wanting to pop for a air pump and for my purposes I need to brew indoors. I'm concerned about the noise levels of certain pumps. What is the dB of this one like for you?

  13. #13 madodah, Aug 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2010
    I can't speak for anyone else nor measure sound decibel levels but my 70lpm air pump in a five-gallon bucket with four gallons of water would drive me crazy indoors. I brew in a 24'x30' outbuilding and when the brewer is going I can't even listen to music. YMMV.
  14. Possum,

    Madodah hit it on the head for sure.....this pump is a loud sum bitch......I brew in a separate room in my shop, and can barely hear it through the walls, but in the room, it makes a racket. The trade off is that it puts out a lot of D.O.

    I would suggest mounting the pump to a piece of plywood with some rubber spacers to dampen the sound, as a lot of the sound comes from the vibration of the pumps feet on the floor.


  15. That's what I was afraid of. The 'ear test' is a good enough dB test for me. I'll go backwards and read up some more on the "physics" of the tiny bubbles. I know there has been some discussion the the efficacy of a high output aquarium pump but I though I recalled from the Lowenfel book that he advocated the use of an aquarium pump....hmmm. I'll go read some mo!

    Thanks bro's. That is exactly the feedback I was looking for - personal and on-the-ground, real world experience. :)
  16. Possuum

    The book does show an aquarium pump which is why I've posted before that while the Teaming book is great - you can pretty much forget much/most of the chapter on brewing AACT and in particular the air pump that he used in the photo. Ridiculous.

    If one wanted to use a small pump like the one shown in the book's photo that would be fine for brewing 1 - 1.5 gallons and quite frankly for many folks that might be the best way to start, i.e. get the process down working with a small batch before moving up to 5 gallons.

    At the risk of repeating myself - in the 'real world' of inoculating an orchard, vineyard, et al., 5 gallons of tea is what is applied to an entire acre. A gallon or so, properly made, should be more than enough for a few plants in a grow room.


  17. I agree with those thoughts. I personally can not use 5 gals of an AACT before it goes anerobic so 1 -2 gals is more in my league for my uses.

    Alright...I thought I knew what "YMMV" represented from one of STM's posts but now I'm scratching my head again....what it be?
  18. YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary

    Probably a generational thing - it's from those stupid gasoline commercials when you and I were young as the moderator's voice would advocate using their gasoline product because of the massive increase in fuel mileage but with the warning/caveat - Your Mileage May Vary.

    Do ya think???????????????


  19. When I was engrossed in performance and classic vehicles it was a common comment about squeezing extra horsepower out of an engine using a specific modification due to the potential variables.

    When I used it in my post it was based on knowing some life-long advocates of loud, heavy metal music who would barely notice the sound of a freight train running through their living rooms.

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