Protozoa Tea Recipe - Do You Have One?

by Sally Ann

I am wondering if you have a standard way of making protozoa tea? Also, would one dilute this tea or apply full-strength? (I imagine that there wouldn't be more than a few hundred+/- per batch, so diluting might not be a good idea?)

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Apr 10, 2012
Brewing Compost Tea with Protozoa - Part 1 of 2
by: Dave

Hi Sally Ann,

Sorry for the delay in my response. I'm weeks away from launching the Web's most comprehensive 'Compost Finder Tool' on our site and I've been putting most of my attention there lately. Alas, we get to your protozoa question...

I really wish I could give you a simple black and white answer, however, I can't. Until I got my microscope (March 2012), I was just assuming that by following other's recipes and using a well-proven brewer, that I was brewing good tea. That meant it had a diversity of microorganisms, including protozoa. Since I'm still new to this microscopy game, I sent your question to Tim from Microbe Organics. Below is a little bit of general information for other newbies, followed by my interpretation of Tim's response...

For the newbies (that includes me)...The term protozoa describes a class of single-celled microorgansims that include Ciliates, Amoebae, and Flagellates. Protozoa are a critical link in the Soil Food Web because they are nutrient-cyclers. That is, they help to mineralize various nutrients in their environments. They mainly feed on bacteria, although they have also been known to feed on each other, organic matter, and fungi at times. When protozoa feed on bacteria, they excrete a dose of nitrogen which plants can readily absorb. Needless to say, protozoa play a critical role in a functioning Soil Food Web and therefore in your plant's health. Hence the reason why Sally Ann wants to brew compost tea which fosters these little guys.

soil food web

con't in comment below...

Apr 10, 2012
Making Compost Tea with Protozoa - Part 2 of 2
by: Dave

con't from above...

Sally Ann, based on my understanding of Tim's response, the key to making compost tea that is rich in protozoa is about two critical factors - length of your brew and your ingredients.

In terms of time, since protozoa mainly feed on bacteria, we need to give the bacterial populations in our tea enough time to proliferate before we'll see sufficient protozoa. Tim has found this to occur between 36-42 hours into the brewing process. I need to clarify, and observe for myself, if this time frame changes depending on the size of the brewer. Does anyone else in our Tribe know if that's the case?

In terms of ingredients, Tim has been making a really good (i.e. rich in protozoa) aerated compost tea using only vermicompost and unsulphured blackstrap molasses. As for specific quantities, Tim has recommended I start talking in terms of percentages versus weight. Overall, he recommends using 2.38% vermicompost and 0.50% molasses. These percentages relate to the total volume of liquid in your brewer. So if you're brewing in a 5 gallon (18.9 liters) bucket you would want to use approx. 0.45 liters (1.9 cups, say 2) of vermicompost and approx. 94.5 ml (0.4 cups, a little less than half a cup) of molasses.

In conclusion, brew your tea for 36-42 hours before applying it and use high-quality, finished but fresh vermicompost with a little blackstrap molasses. This should provide you with the type of tea you're looking for.

As for diluting your tea - How often do you plan to apply it? What's the size of the area you will be applying it to?

By the way, here is a list of common conversions to better explain the numbers above:

1 gallon = 3.78 liters
1 liter = 4.2 cups US
1 liter = 1.05 quarts US
1 quart = 32 ounces US
1 US ounce = 29.57 ml

Hope this helps. I know I learned a lot just researching the answer to this question. Thanks Tim! Thanks Sally Ann!

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Apr 11, 2012
Nice work
by: Anonymous

Nice, this site is really stoking me. I am working on compost tea recipes to suit our maintenance clients (turf,shrubs, trees) and have been so pumped to have found you guys. Thanks for the updates and info keep it coming.

Apr 11, 2012
Compost shirts
by: Anonymous

Do you have any shirts or anything for sale? I would way dig advertising

Apr 11, 2012
Thank You.
by: Dave

Well Anonymous, you sweet talker you...haha! Thanks for the feedback. Glad to be able to help out. I'm learning with you guys, so it's wonderful. I used to think I was an expert in this field until I really started to get into it, then I quickly realized just how deep the rabbit hole's been a very humbling experience.

Re shirts and other swag - I looked into it recently, but the costs just didn't make sense. The sites I was searching (Zazzle, etc.) were going to charge $30-40 for a t-shirt (organic cotton of course) with a simple logo and that just seemed like a little too much for me. Plus, it's the time commitment involved in getting something like that off the ground. I simply don't have the time to do that at the moment.

If there is anyone out there in our Compost Junkie Tribe that would like to take this on as a project, you can have all of the revenue you generate. You could create a Compost Junkie swag shop. Let me know...

Apr 14, 2012
Using pond water for protozoa tea.
by: Eric in Denver

In order to increase the amount and variety of microbes in my compost tea (especially Protozoa), I scrape up a little pond water and muck from a nearby well aerated pond and add it to GOOD worm castings.

Most such ponds are teaming with some of the larger microbes our gardens may be lacking. I add the muck (along with bulkier more complex foods like kelp MEAL, alfalfa, blackstrap unsulfured molasses, and soy bean meal) Brew for at least 36 hours. I use the end result, a mixture thicker than usual, as an undiluted soil drench.

Apr 14, 2012
Protozoa from Pond Muck
by: Dave

Hey Eric,

That's really cool. Thanks for sharing that with us. Do you use a microscope to verify the presence of the protozoa, etc. in your pond muck? I've got a creek a couple minutes from my house, so I may just have to play around with this new idea. Thanks!

Apr 30, 2012
Using pond water in your compost tea
by: Eric in Denver

Hello Dave and the Tribe,
This is a follow up to my suggestion that scraping up and using pond muck can enhance the variety of organisms, especially Protozoa, and improve the quality of compost tea.
Well, I stumbled upon a video of Bob Webster at OrganicTexas, saying that BOTH the 1st and 2nd best teas in a competition among expert gardeners had one thing in common. BOTH had used water from a nearby pond in the making of their award winning teas!
Bob gives a detailed and informative talk about compost tea in these videos. Any of you brewers out there, the true compost junkies, would probably love them.

or go to youtube: OrganicTexas and type Bob Webster compost tea.

Eric in Denver

May 03, 2012
Corn meal promotes Trichoderma in compost tea
by: Eric in Denver

Hello Tribe,
I found another interesting compost tea tip in the series of videos by Bob Webster, mentioned in the post above, that I thought deserved our attention.
According to Bob, adding CORN MEAL to our tea can promote the growth of TRICHODERMA, a widely beneficial and sought after root zone fungi. Trichoderma, a key ingredient in most of those incredibly expensive bio-innoculants that are on the market, has been shown to promote growth and suppress pathogens in a huge variety of plants since the 1920's.
I, for one, will be brewing up a batch of "Tricho tea" in the near future. Care to join me?

Here is a link for more info on Trichoderma:

Eric in Denver

Jun 16, 2015
Thanks Eric! (in denver)
by: Dakota

I just watched all of Bob Wagners compost tea vids from 2010. I learned a lot! Really stoked I came across your comment!

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