Compost tea is a tea made from steeping (or brewing) compost instead of tea leaves. It isn’t appetizing for you but your plants will love it! The nutrients and beneficial microbes in the compost diffuse and multiply in the water making liquid fertilizer for your plants.
For detailed instructions on brewing your own compost tea read: How to Make Compost Tea with Worm Castings. During the brewing process, you will need to use a compost tea bag or filter to strain out the large compost particles. In this article, you will learn about everyday household items that make excellent compost tea bags.
The need for a compost tea bag or filter
If you plan to use your nutrient rich compost tea in a watering can or spray bottle, you will need to filter out the large chunks of compost so they don’t get stuck and clog the spray bottle or watering can. There are two ways to filter or strain your compost tea:
- As you brew your compost tea using some sort of compost tea bag to hold the compost (more on this later).
- After your compost tea is brewed using some sort of strainer or filter. My favorite strainer to use is a paint strainer bag that you can pick up at any hardware store. Simply put the paint strainer inside a 5 gallon bucket. You can buy one that fits perfectly and even has an elastic band that fits around the lip of the bucket. Then, pour your brewed compost tea into the paint strainer bag. The paint strainer will catch the large particles of compost while the compost tea will go through into the bucket. Remove the paint strainer bag full of compost (add it to your garden or back into your compost bin) and you are left with clean compost tea ready to use.
What to use as a compost tea bag
You can use any material for your compost tea bag as long as it is flexible, cloth-like, and porous (but not too porous that the compost particles leak through). Here is a list of my favorite compost tea bags. You might have a few of these around the house right now.
- An old sock. Old socks are the perfect shape for a compost tea bag. Simple fill it half full with finished pile or worm compost and tie a knot. You might want to use two at a time to get enough compost for the brew but don’t worry, the socks don’t need to match!
- An old cotton t-shirt. T-shirts work really well also. Cut it so you can make a bag or pouch and add compost.
- Paint strainer bag. These work really well but you will need to purchase them from a hardware store. They are made for straining paint so they are ideal for this use.
- Cheese cloth. Cheese cloth is used for straining the water out of cheese while it is being made. It works very well as a compost tea bag.
- Footies used when trying on shoes. This is my current favorite. You know those little, tan footies/booties that you have to put on when you try on shoes at a shoe store when you didn’t bring your own socks? Their thin material makes them ideal for compost tea bags. They are pretty small, you will want to use two or three per batch. TIP: I leave one in my watering can for added nutrients.
What works for you? Let me know in the comments below if you have another excellent material for to use as a compost tea bag.