One of the serendipitous benefits of bokashi fermenting is the tea. This tea is power food for plants.
Not everybody uses the bokashi tea. Some fermenting buckets do not have a spigot to drain off the tea. Draining off the tea is not imperative but if you have plants or a yard or know someone who does, bokashi tea is liquid gold.
The tea is filled with beneficial microbes that enhance the soil and promote plant growth. These beneficial microbes work better than any store-bought fertilizer that I’ve used. In addition to being effective, it’s free and not harmful to humans or pets.
Diluting the Tea
I have performed several experiments using the bokashi tea. I’ve diluted the tea at an approximate ratio of 1000 to 1 (1,000 parts water to 1 part tea) and used it on my lawn. When my fermenting bucket produces a lot of tea, the ratio is more like 10 to 1. I’ve also tested it undiluted on a couple of plants.
The reason for diluting the tea from, what I can see, is twofold:
- By diluting the tea you make it stretch further. One cup of tea doesn’t go very far on an acre of land if it’s not diluted.
- The other reason for diluting the tea, especially if you use it indoors, is to dilute the odor. Sometimes the tea can smell bad (although the food scraps don’t). The smell of undiluted tea sprinkled on houseplants can be rather unpleasant. Fortunately, the smell dissipates within hours, but why put yourself through that.
Results of an Experiment
In a recent batch of bokashi tea, I diluted it using a one to one ratio. I used the minimally diluted mixture on some of my indoor seedlings. My seedlings loved it. There was only one problem… fruit flies.
That batch of tea had quite a lot of pineapple and watermelon. The 1 to 1 ratio was not enough water to dilute the pineapple “aroma.” The smell lasted for a portion of the day, just long enough to invite fruit flies.
To solve my fruit fly problem, I sprinkled some diatomaceous earth on the soil. That killed the fruit flies.
When using bokashi tea indoors, dilute it enough to help reduce any tea “aroma.”
Straight bokashi tea is not harmful to plants or seedlings. As a matter of fact, it appears to have a beneficial effect. My spearmint seedlings, which refused to break ground, broke ground shortly thereafter. There’s a long story to my spearmint seeds. The first seeds never sprouted so I threw a few more into the pot. It wasn’t until after giving it the minimally diluted tea did the second batch of seeds sprout.
Fortifying the Microbes
As mentioned earlier, the bokashi tea is filled with beneficial microbes. These microbes do wonderful things for plants leaves when foliar spraying or the soil by direct watering. To encourage healthy microbe growth, they need to be fed. The microbe food of choice (at least in my house) is organic blackstrap molasses for bacteria and hydrolized fish for the fungi.
When I dilute a batch of bokashi tea, I add a small amount of molasses. I usually dilute the tea in a 2-gallon sprayer so I add about 2 tablespoons of molasses and about the same of hydrolyzed fish (the recipe is very forgiving).
The additional nutrients are not absolutely necessary when using bokashi tea but if I’m going to keep the microbes happy, which keep my plants happy, which makes me happy, a little microbe nourishment is a small price to pay.
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Wonderful website and information which I stumbled across while ‘googling’ bokashi
I have recently started making bokashi, I have a 2 bucket system, I pulp all the scraps first through an old kitchen InSinkErator which my long suffering husband set up for me for the worm farm
You say it takes about 3 days for ‘tea’ to collect . How long does it last for, or how long do the microbes live for ?
That doesn’t sound very clear, sorry . Or how quickly must you use it before it becomes ineffective or dies?
Many thanks again
The tea production depends on the items tossed in the bucket. I try to drain my tea every couple of days and use it within 24 hours.
Sometimes the tea sits in the container longer than 2 or 3 days. That happens when I have more than one bucket in a holding pattern. In other words, they’re full but are waiting the couple of weeks before I bury them. When they’re in a holding pattern, I try to remember to drain them as I drain the active bucket, but sometimes I forget.
When I have too much tea for my vegetable garden or house plants, I pour the rest on the lawn undiluted or down the drain. The lawn handles the straight tea just fine.
Hope that helps.
Wondering if you’ve had any experience using bokashi tea as a foliar spray against early blight in tomatoes? I’ve read that some microbial sprays may be beneficial. I believe my greenhouse tomatoes are affected – early stages – and I’ve sprayed once with a copper spray. I’d love to use something less “irritating” if possible.
Since this is my first year in growing tomatoes, I had to do a little research to learn about early blight.
I’m no expert on growing plants, but I’ve been foliar spraying my tomatoes weekly with bokashi tea and don’t have signs of it. I don’t think bokashi tea will hurt the plants and might help. I’d hope that the beneficial microorganisms in the bokashi tea would help to combat the not so beneficial fungus that causes the blight problem.
From what I’ve read, “Infections are most prevalent on poorly nourished or otherwise stressed plants.” Foliar spraying with bokashi tea will nourish the plant which will help it to fight the infection.
Just a side note, when I use bokashi tea I always add molasses, sea weed water and a little fish emulsion to the concoction. I do this to keep the microbes well fed and happy which has been doing wonders for my plants. I hope this helps.