Keeping Worm Tea Fresh

by Larry
(Canada)

As I read from a couple different resources, the worm tea should be consumed in 1-2 days (couldn't find any info on your site).


This actually makes sense, but on the other hand, lots of companies sell packaged worm tea. What are some ways to conserve and keep the worm tea fresh for a month, for example?

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May 31, 2014
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Keeping worm tea fresh
by: Dale Robinson

The main concern for keeping worm tea fresh is how well the bacteria survive.

There are two things to look at for keeping the bacteria alive, food and oxygen. If bacteria run out of food they will go dormant and be able to survive a long time on very little oxygen. If the bacteria run out of oxygen, they die.

The trick then is to leave the container open until the food is all gone before sealing it up for shipment. When it is added to organic material, the bacteria will reactivate. The addition of molasses helps to increase bacteria activity.

Jun 02, 2014
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Keeping Worm Tea Fresh
by: Larry

Thank you for the valuable information Dale, however, your comment does not entirely answer my question. What I really asked was about the worm tea we see in the market with "1 year shelf-life".

What keeps the sealed package fresh for 1 year?

And also another question for your answer:

How can we know that the food in the container is all gone?

Jun 02, 2014
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fresh tea
by: Dale Robinson

The process that is used to insure that the food for the bacteria is used up and, insuring there is enough oxygen for dorment bacteria is one to be left to professionals with testing equipment.

I could guess at how to tell when it is ready but then it would be just that, a guess. The lab work behind creating conditionas that bacteria would survive for a year in a closed container was pretty extesive.

Jun 02, 2014
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Keeping Worm Tea Fresh?
by: Pauly

Keeping worm tea fresh by bottling and storing it on a shelf is an idea, that has for years, perplexed me. It sounds more like an oxymoron.

Now, I understand that it is created and sold on a large scale. As a matter of fact, I bought a few bottles years ago and used it on my plants. Long story short, my plants became sick and it took a long time for them to recover but they never recovered fully.

Microbes will only last for a short period, four hours or a little more. Once the microbes run out of oxygen they will either die or go dormant.

Here is where I do not understand the bottling. Once the cap is put on the bottle it is no longer a suitable environment for the beneficial microbes. This means the unbeneficial microbes start to take over in abundance.

These are microbes that have their place for their specific purpose. And I believe this is what I poured all over my plants years ago. By the way, this worm tea was from a popular company that sold their product at Home Depot.

I understand that some of these dormant microbes will wake up when it's a suitable environment for them (this means in the soil where your plants are) But no one can guarantee that everyone has the best suitable environment for these dormant microbes. Not that they have to.

The bad microbes can potentially take over as in my case.

Unless you take that bottle or your homemade bottled tea to the lab for testing, it remains a mystery liquid. I just don't know why anyone would want to poor the mystery liquid full of unbeneficial microbes into their plants. It is a big gamble.

I would just advise for people to make their own worm tea fresh and use it immediately for best results. It is very easy to do. So I do agree with Dale you must take it to a lab and have it analyzed. Even taking your own fresh tea to the lab for testing is a great idea. This will help you perfect your tea to a "T" :)

Jun 03, 2014
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fresh tea
by: Dale Robinson

Thanks Pauly, I suppose that years ago you got something that a worm farmer decided to market without really knowing what he was doing. He may have thought that he need to add something like molasses to the mix to keep the bacteria alive. In that case the anaerobic bacteria would take over in short order.

If the food is all used up neither good or bad bacteria will be active. The stuff on the shelf today is not the same. I don't produce this stuff yet but my partners are pushing for it. My worm bins produce a lot of worm tea in normal operation. I'm inclined to keep poring it down the toilet for now.

Jun 03, 2014
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Fresh tea
by: Dale Robinson

Well Larry, I would think that the answer to your question would be pretty obvious by now. Leave the lid off the tea.

The best thing to do is to use it all up and make new when you need it. The tea is mostly good as foulerer spray so all you need to make up is a batch big enough to meet your spraying needs. Any excess can be poured around the plants.

Your question also begs another question... How long can worm castings be kept before they are not any good for making worm tea? I don't have the answer for that but I would guess they could be kept for years if kept damp.

My web site is fairly new so I don't have a lot of information on it like this.

Jun 04, 2014
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Keeping Worm Tea Fresh?
by: Pauly

Keep in mind that microbes feed on other microbes. This is exactly what takes place in the gut of a worm.

Beneficial organisms eat the non-beneficial ones and the tide may turn in a bottle. So once the oxygen and molasses are depleted and the container is capped it's now a playground for the non-beneficial microbes.

The beneficials better run and hide. But these are just my thoughts. No way to really know for sure unless analyzed :)

~Pauly

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