How Soil Conditioner (Compost Tea) Builds Soil Health For Better Plants

Healthy soil is necessary to grow healthy plants. It really is that simple. And applying a soil conditioner, such as compost tea, can make it much easier to build soil health.

This type of soil conditioner isn’t a “fertilizer.” Instead, it helps reduce the need for fertilizer applications and, therefore, reduces maintenance costs for your property.

If that sounds too good to be true, keep reading for details about what soil conditioners like compost tea are, how they work, and how that benefits your lawn, trees, and other plants.

Use Compost Tea For Healthy Lawns, Trees, Shrubs, Gardens & Crops

What Is Compost Tea?

Compost tea is a liquid extract of compost that contains plant growth compounds and beneficial microorganisms. It’s called “compost tea” because it’s created by “brewing” compost in water until it looks very much like tea. The compost is then strained out of the water and the resulting “tea” is used to water plants of all kinds to provide nutrients and support healthy growth.

The key to creating a successful batch of compost tea is to start with healthy, organic compost. It shouldn’t have any pesticide or herbicide residue, petroleum-based products (such as the car oil or gas often found in composted leaves gathered from roads and parking areas), or anything else that could kill beneficial organisms. Ultimately, the quality of the inputs will determine the quality of the outcome.

bin of organic compost used to make compost tea by Organic Plant Care LLC in Flemington NJ

High-quality organic compost is the starting point for brewing compost tea that’s used to enhance soil biology

Why Use Compost Tea?

Compost tea provides nutrients that are missing from many urban and suburban yards here in central New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This is especially the case with properties that have used synthetic/chemical treatments. These chemicals kill many of the organisms that are needed for healthy soil, leaving it devoid of life.

Compost tea helps build populations of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa in the soil. These aren’t “bad” bacteria and fungi (like the kind that can make you sick). They’re organisms that are part of a healthy, microscopic soil food chain. In the soil food chain, bacteria break down organic matter and nutrients, protozoa consume the bacteria (which are very high in nitrogen), and in the process, nitrogen is released into the soil for plants to consume.

This natural process is called nutrient cycling and it helps to reduce the need for fertilizers. The active, diverse soil biology, along with the proper balance of organic nutrients, water, and oxygen, provide plants with the nutrients they need for optimum health and vigor.

As a result, using a high-quality soil conditioner lowers the cost of maintaining a beautiful, healthy lawn and garden.

Using Compost Tea

We recommend conducting a Soil Food Web test before applying compost tea to your property.

Based on the results, you’ll know whether soil conditioner is right for your yard and can ensure that it will meet the specific needs of your plants. As with most organic soil amendments, the choice of soil conditioner depends on what you’ll be applying it to, as well as soil conditions.

After applying compost tea to your trees, shrubs and/or perennials, we also recommend applying mulch made with untreated, aged, brown organic materials to promote the growth of beneficial fungi. Besides looking attractive, mulch supports fungi, suppresses weed growth, and minimizes soil compaction.

If you’d like to move toward an organic approach to maintaining your yard, call us today at 908-309-6611 to find out how compost tea soil conditioner can help make the transition as smooth and successful as possible.

In Summary

When applied a minimum of 2-3 times per year, compost tea builds soil life and suppresses diseases below ground to help improve overall plant health and vigor. With the right kind of application,  it also helps suppress fungal diseases on leaf surfaces, like powdery mildew and black spot.

The active, diverse soil biology that can be achieved with high-quality soil conditioner, plus a supply of the right organic nutrients, leads to the establishment of nutrient and nitrogen cycling. Once achieved, nitrogen cycling (which is the ultimate goal in our organic programs) helps reduce the need for and cost of external fertilizer inputs over time.

Call us at 908-309-6611 for a free estimate. We’ll determine the best schedule for compost tea soil conditioner applications for your yard and garden. 

Bill Grundmann

Bill is the owner of Organic Plant Care, LLC. He takes an integrated approach to tree care, focusing not only on the trees themselves but also on the surrounding environment, managing tree health from the "ground up" - healthy soil equals healthy plants. Bill is a New Jersey Licensed Tree Expert and NJ Approved Forester with over 35 years of experience in the tree care industry.