Brewing and Using Vermicompost Tea

OK – so I guess there WILL actually be some genuine vermicomposting content this week, after all!

Recently, my good worm-friend, Mike “The Strawberry Guy” Wellik, shared this great video all about making and using vermicompost tea. Some of you may recall the interesting article Mike shared with us earlier in the year (see “The Strawberry Store Vermicomposts“).

Mike has seen some great results from incorporating vermicompost tea use into his specialty strawberry growing business, so this is certainly more than just a passing interest for him. Check it out!

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    • Larry D.
    • December 23, 2010

    I found that my worms love the spent castings.I use a paint strainer bag at the beginning of the tea brewing.Then when i am done with that part of the process,i dump the bag of used vc in the bin.The next day when i check it out,the used vc is full of worms!
    I neglected my strawberries,and now they are looking rough.But at least they are still alive.When we had a freeze i shut down my well,and forgot my strawberry drip tube was cut off too! Live and learn,as the saying goes!

  1. Thanks Mike!

  2. Thanks Guys. I meant to mention paint strainer bags. Most times I use one. They are sold in big box stores in 2 and 5 gallon versions. If you’re going to apply the vermitea with a watering can or sprayer you need to strain it to get out the large pieces. Spraying vermitea on plants is an excellent way of introducing competing organisms to the leaves to suppress pests.

    • Heather Rinaldi
    • December 26, 2010

    Hi Mike,
    That is almost exactly as I make tea too. Looking forward to loads of strawberries next summer! Hope you are doing great–we’ve missed you around these parts.

  3. Hi Heather:
    Thanks for asking. I’m doing well despite the snow storm over the weekend. Would love to hear about your experience with the use of tea on strawberries. Production in the second year tends to be double the first year production, or more. You should have loads of berries in the spring. Good luck.

    • Kator
    • December 28, 2010

    My wife is starting strawberry plants for the first time next spring, and sharing your experience here and on your website has provided great intro for beginners. Thanks Mike!

    • Anna
    • January 2, 2011

    Thanks, Mike. I definitely prefer your method to buying the $4,000+ compost tea machine I just saw in a catalog :O!

    • Frank
    • January 2, 2011

    Hi Anna et al,

    Regarding compost tea and brewers:

    They are not all created equally and ideally their results should be tested by a soil science lab skilled at testing the brew for microbial life( to make sure what you are brewing and using is actually what you think it is in terms of growing microbial life. Google Dr. Elaine Ingham, and you will be off and running to learn what I am writing about.

    Brewers also come in 5 gallon sizes for much less than the $4k you mentioned ( under $200). Check out the 5-gal brewer here:

    I highly recommend, before any tea is brewed, that you read Teaming with Microbes by Lowenfels & Lewis. It is a great intro to the soil food web and compost tea and its use.

    It has inspired me to pursue a business in that direction. I can’t recommend it highly enough.


    Frank D in Simpsonville

  4. Frank is absolutely right on all his points.

    I own Dr. Ingham’s book “Compost Tea Brewing Manual” and “Teaming with Microbes”. Both are very valuable resources. I was disappointed that Dr. Ingham’s book doesn’t say a lot about vermicompost tea brewing specifically. Don’t take any of this wrong, there is a lot of very important information there done very scientifically.

    Elaine did do comparisons between various brands and there were differences in laboratory results. What is really needed is a comparison for field results. Do the differences translate to more/less pest numbers, yield, etc? Maybe with replicated tests with a large population sample differences would separate out? If so, what are the economics? Is it worth paying more for a professional brewer? The jury is still out on all of these questions and I don’t know of anyone who has addressed those questions.

    I owned one of the professional brewers. I went by Dr. Ingham’s result comparisons in choosing the product. As a matter of fact, I have a dealership to sell them. I paid a lot of money for it even at dealer pricing.

    After a lot of testing, I didn’t see a noticeable difference between the results for my homemade brewer and the professional one. I’m not talking about differences in lab analysis. I’m talking about what I actually saw on my strawberry crop. I had an opportunity to sell the professional unit so I did.

    The two gallon version is just for winter brewing for a small number of rare varieties that I germinate. In season I use a 5 gallon homemade brewer using multiple air pumps and a 35 gallon tank with some heavy duty air pumps. The only real difference I saw between the professional unit and my homemade unit is the power of the air pump. I’m sure there’s a lot of science that went into developing the professional units and I’m sure that a lab analysis would be very enlightening. I’m very happy with my homemade brewers and really can’t justify spending a lot when a DIY unit does the trick.

    • Frank
    • January 3, 2011

    Hi Michael,

    It’s great to see another fan of the Soil Food Web crowd!

    Your points are excellent. Thank you. When it comes down to it, if the plants are healthier and produce more and the only difference between plants is the tea that gets administered, it does not matter what the tea is brewed in; expensive or cheap something is working right.


  5. Hi Mike,
    thanks a lot for the information! I use to work with 1000l professional brewer, but with using aerated compost, not a vermicompost, that is is why your experience so interesting for me.
    To Anna,
    do not rush with bying $4000 professional brewer, you can build it with local workshop help 3 times cheaper.


  6. I can only agree! Worm tea is an amazing product and if used fresh brings amazing results.

    I have used and brewed worm tea now for many years and can only give good reports about the results.

    I am not a scientist but value greatly any input from other worm farming enthusiasts. I believe we all can learn from each other.

    For those that want to brew their worm tea inexpensively they can try my free worm tea brewing recipe at home.

    As I mentioned I used it for many years together with worm castings and compost and my fruit and vegetables tasted and looked amazing

    Worm Tea –
    Organic Fertilizer and Natural Pesticide

    More and more garden enthusiasts and farmers are learning about the outstanding benefits of this great organic plant food.

    All kinds of plants like… •Shrubs, •Trees, •Flowers, •Vegetables,
    •Seeds, •Seedlings and •Lawns

    will benefit from the application of this organic fertilizer to their soil.
    Worm tea is produced when worm castings are mixed with water and molasses and brewed for 24 hours.

    The molasses will serve as a food source for beneficial microorganisms that are part of worm castings.
    The brewing process multiplies the beneficial microorganisms of the worm casting tea rapidly.
    The finished product will achieve the best results if used within 24 hours after the end of the brewing process but will still be beneficial for several months.

    If you bottle it just shake it before using it to activate the remaining microorganisms.

    Liquidized worm castings have many positive properties for soil and plants.

    •They act as a natural fungicide and insecticide
    •can be used as an organic fertilizer
    •will never burn plants
    •and will improve soil structure and plant health.

    To brew earthworm tea you will need…
    – a bucket or tank,
    – an air pump with some piping,
    – an air stone usually used for fish tanks,
    – some worm castings and molasses
    -and water.

    It’s really easy to produce and the results will speak for themselves.

    How to brew the tea!

    This recipe is worked out for a 20 liter / 5.29 gallons

    1.Fill your bucket with water that is chlorine free. If you don’t have access to pond water add the air stone, switch on the air pump for 12 hours and let the chlorine evaporate

    2.Add 1kg / 2.2 pounds of pure worm castings

    3. Add 25 ml / 1 tablespoon of molasses

    4. Let the air pump run for 24 hours

    5. Remove the air stone

    You can use the product immediately.
    For more free information about worm tea and some helpful images about the worm tea brewing process follow the link.

    kind regards


    • Margaret
    • May 10, 2019

    I don’t have an air pump or air stone or pond water but I do have chlorinated water so how else can I get rid of the chlorine? I only have a very small worm farm so not many castings or worm tea but I want to make the best use of what I do have to help all my plants which are all in pots – only a concrete patio for space – no ground at all.

    Can I just use diluted worm tea and will it work just as well? Can I use bottled water to dilute the worm tea?

    I don’t have a web site – I’m just a beginner.

    • Bentley
    • May 21, 2019

    Hi Margaret – sorry for the delay. Chlorinate will dissipate from water over time, so aeration isn’t likely critical. I would think it should be gone if you left the water to sit for a few days. You could certainly speed that up by repeatedly collecting some of the water in a small bucket and pouring it back into the main container. Diluted leachate from a mature worm bin can be OK – but make sure it doesn’t have any foul odors, and be sure to test on a small scale first, before going too crazy with it!

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