Hey Dude, Scotty, Guru & The DGC Family. I had a great conversation with Mr. Real recently, trading notes on growing organics, composting, brewing compost tea & no till gardening among other topics. I was happy to report how I combined my compost tea brewing with his RECHARGE this year and the almost far-fetched results. He asked if I would share the knowledge I’ve accumulated with the DGC.
A few caveats. This knowledge drop has its roots in fruit & vegetable gardening and has been gleaned since I was old enough to carry water. The comprehension of the ins & outs and the most valuable lessons have come since 2013. Also, note I am an outdoor grower. I simply have not experimented growing anything indoors yet. I am not an expert/ professional grower, … Yet. I do not know how this will convert to growing cannabis but if my 1st try (see my rookie grow post – unfortunately both male plants) is an indicator, I know I’m on the right trail.
Since there have been many in the DGC community that are considering a to move toward growing organic dank, an understanding of just some basics is going to help. My overall approach may be looked upon as ‘over the top’ or ‘a shitload of work’, which it is, but the effort has my family consuming a wide variety of purely organic produce, it will be producing pure organic med for me, PLUS I see it as one of the ways gardeners can flip off the likes of Monsanto & the entire industrial food/ petrol fertilizer complex. I’m going to scribe out posts on my soil, my composting system, my compost tea formulas, my “no till” practice, and my cover crop rotation. Today, its compost tea brewer build designs for active aerated compost tea.
I thought it best to begin here because it is easy & inexpensive to get started. If all you are growing is cannabis you can eliminate many of those High $$ bottles you’re buying.
So, how do you make it & why should you go to the trouble? Let’s start with the Why. There’s a simple answer & scientific answers. The simple one my wife summed up this spring when she said, “These cucumbers and tomatoes are, by a wide margin, the best I’ve ever eaten. Would they be called Dank by that Dude guy you listen to?” Yeah, I laughed too. I wish I would have had them brix tested. At any rate, I knew this crop was the most nutrient dense vegetables I’ve ever produced. Therefore, The № 1 conclusion I believe is; You’re going to produce BETTER plants/flowers/meds/terps at a lower overall cost.
Dr. Elaine Ingham’s book, The Compost Tea Brewing Manual, outlines the biggest reasons for using compost tea. It reduces dependency on fertilizer which equals a substantial cost savings. It increases the numbers of predator organisms in your soil (think fungus gnat larvae Dude). It increases the biomass and species diversity of microbes. It increases the ability of soil to hold nutrients and retain water. It improves the soils pH buffering ability through microbe diversity, and it greatly reduces salt accumulation in your soil.
There’s 5 Brewing rules of thumb I need to cover. Rule № 1. You need to pump roughly an equal to or greater amount of air per minute as you have litres of water. The more air being pumped the better your results. Rule № 2. The amount of tea you brew must be used immediately upon the end of the brewing period. You cannot let it sit, nor can you save it. Your tea will go anaerobic and you’ll end up pouring what amounts to microbiological poison fertilizer on your plants & then you’ll be cursing me – G@*D@*% Phu*k**g Phud! Brewing Rule № 3. You CAN NOT skimp or cheap out on the air pump. It’s the heart of the system. Rule № 4. Cleanliness is mandatory. You must clean out the brewer and all the parts after every use or you risk your next batch containing bad anaerobic mojo. Rule № 5. Don’t violate rules 1 thru 4.
Let’s get to the equipment. I started brewing my own teas in a 13-gallon kitchen garbage can using a fish tank air stone and a 20 Watt/45 litre per minute air pump. This set up is pictured below. This rig works for brewing 10 gallons. (8 gallons = 30 litres) If 5 to 10 gallons is enough for your grow needs, this is it. You can stop reading here & go make it happen. This rig is the most cost effective system I could come up with. The whole smash will run you around $60 -$70 depending on where you live.
BUT what if you need more? I’m running a bunch of raised beds that are 8’long X 4’ wide X 2’ deep. I was brewing nearly every day in 8 – 10 gallon batches. That’s nuts! I did it for 2 vegetable seasons, 1 spring season & 1 fall.
You can purchase larger brewing rigs, that will run you from $300 to $400 & on up into the thousands.
PH**K THAT. Fortunately, this spring Oregon State University Professor, Mark Rutter released plans for a 30 gallon homemade brewer. Those plans can be downloaded here: http://extension.oregonstate.edu//lane/horticulture/documents/25gallonRubbermaidbrewerplans_2_.pdf?q=extension/lane/horticulture/documents/25gallonRubbermaidbrewerplans_2_.pdf . There is video up on YouTube about this brewer now. To build the OSU plan you’re going to drop about $12-15 on ½ inch PVC, $25-30 on a garbage can (if you need it). I tried my small pump at first. Yeah Rule 3. The small pump didn’t work well enough. I then dropped $70 in March for a 110 litre, 112 Watt pump. If you’re going to buy one, the best price I found & the one I purchased can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Active-Aqua-Commercial-Pump-Outlets/dp/B002JPPFJ0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500951001&sr=8-1&keywords=110+litre+air+pump
Disclaimer. I couldn’t care less where you buy a pump. I have no skin in the air pump game. I’m just sayin’, Rule 3 is a hard & fast rule. I have had no problems running this pump in the hot Florida sun and I’m brewing 24 gallon batches (24 gals = 91 litres) therefore rule 1 is covered by 21%.
I did not build the OSU design. That design however lead me to a simplified idea. I already had a couple 25 gal. Rubbermaid garbage cans I use for collecting rain, so I designed around that model of garbage can. This build (parts list below) will run around $5 in PVC & is far less complicated than the OSU design. I use the 2 bamboo stakes placed parallel to the air ports in the H below to hang 2 nylon stockings filled with 3 cups of tea formula each. My brew time is 24 hrs. At the 18-hour mark I added 1 teaspoon of RECHARGE into the 24 gallon batches, and ¼ teaspoon to the 8 gallon batches. The results? Beyond what I thought “maxing out plant genetics” was. Really, this spring crop was the definition of High Brix. Compost tea was one of the key ingredients to the success.
If you choose to build my H design, you’ll have about 4 feet of PVC left over so there is a large margin for error. Assembly is self-explanatory (I Hope) DO NOT GLUE THE PVC TOGETHER!!!! You won’t be able to clean it properly thus violating rule 4.
Drill 32 1/16th inch air holes (8 in each 6-inch section of pipe staggered diagonally down the side) in the H section of the design.
Phud’s H design parts list:
1 – 10 foot ½ inch PVC pipe
1 – ½ inch 90 degree elbow
1 – ½ inch to ½ inch threaded adapter
1- ½ inch threaded to ¼ inch male barb
3 – ½ inch T’s
4- ½ inch caps
To build this, cut the 10 foot pipe into pieces:
4 – 6 inch pieces
2 – 1 ½ inch pieces
1 – 28 inch piece
1 – 12 inch piece
LOVE ~ LIGHT ~ PEACE