Spraying the leaves can lead to fungus; drip systems keep leaves dry.

Tea Recipe for a Drip Hydroponic System

by Rob Harris

Drip hydroponic systems save you time and trouble by delivering water to the soil around the base of the plants using perforated pipes or hoses. They can carry more than water, however; drip systems also deliver other liquids, such as fertilizer. Making an organic tea enables you to feed your plants through the hydroponic system without the need to provide nutrients to each plant individually.

1. Compost Tea Ingredients

Compost tea is one of the easiest nutrient teas for home drip hydroponic systems. Start by making your own compost -- using high-quality ingredients from the start gives you a better tea product in the end. Add grass clippings and wood chips to your compost pile as well as leaves, eggshells and leftover fruits and vegetables. Water quality also matters. Tap water often contains materials like chlorine or nitrates, which can negatively affect plant growth. Consider using distilled water instead.

2. Making Compost Tea

Compost tea requires you to soak the compost in water for several days. Fill a burlap sack with aged compost -- compost that's ready to use in a garden -- and sink it into a large bucket or tub of water. Stir the water daily for seven to 10 days, and then squeeze the bag to release as much water as possible before removing it. Instead of burlap, you can use other bag options such as nylon hose or a fine-weave cotton bag.

3. Strain It First

Even after you tie the bag opening securely, small particles of compost tend to leak out of the bag into the tea water. These particles clog drip hydroponic systems, so strain your tea before adding it to your system. Pour the tea through cheesecloth or another fine-weave fabric before adding it to your drip system to help prevent clogs.

4. Other Possible Tea Mixtures

Compost is convenient because you can make it at home, but it's not the only way to make a tea for your drip hydroponic system. Many garden supply stores sell items such as worm castings that work well in homemade tea recipes, although you still must strain the tea to remove debris before using them. Seaweed also works as a tea, as do fish products such as fish flour. Avoid using manure in a tea preparation. Manure might carry the E. coli bacteria, which you don't want around your children, including plants they might touch or eat.

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