Frequently asked questions
I have terrible soil, it's very hard clay. How do I fix that?
Clay soil is a terrific start to have, much better than sandy soil. Clay soil has a lot of unlocked nutrients in it that just have to be released. It also has soil life in it that is dormant and has to be awakened. The best way to do this is to add organic matter to the soil. Nature's way of adding organic matter is to drop leaf litter on the ground and after it piles up over time, there will be a thin layer of compost being created between the now mulch (leaf litter) and the soil below. This process takes a long time and most people today aren't patient enough or do not have the plants around the property to create such an amount of mulch.
For those people, the fastest way to break up the soil, unlock the nutrients, wake up the soil life and change the soil structure is to add the best compost you can find. Compost that is made on the farm, full of soil life, smells like the earth, and is a chocolate brown color rather than black.
If you use Bu's Blend Biodynamic Compost, here are the steps to fixing clay soil:
You can start by setting it out over your soil at 1" throughout in the Spring and the Fall. Do that for the first two years. Starting at the third year, set the compost out at 1/2" every Spring and Fall. Remember to water the compost in once a week for 3 weeks after setting it out. That will start to awaken the soil life so that they can start working on breaking down that compact soil and releasing the nutrients to the plants.
Topdress at 1/16" with Bu's Blend Biodynamic Compost every 8 weeks that you're not composting, excluding the winter months. Do this starting in the first year.
Compost tea drench your plants every month that you're not composting or topdressing, excluding the winter months. That will add more beneficial life to the soil and also feed the life in the soil.
For more information about fixing clay soil, listen to
episode #13 on The Healthy Garden podcast.
Good luck and have fun with your project!
My houseplants have gnats and never look good. What do you recommend for them?
Poor houseplants are the least paid attention to, yet we live closer to them than any other plants. Gnats lay eggs in soil products and unfortunately when we water, they awaken and continue the process in their little microclimate of a container. When we water, they thrive, and when we reduce the water, they die and so does our houseplants! The key is to let the soil dry out between waterings and you can determine that with the following experiment:
Check how moist your soil is by putting your finger into the container's soil as far as you can. If soil gets stuck on your finger, or if it feels moist, then stop watering until the top 3" to 4" becomes dry. Then from that point, water once a week or until the top 3" to 4" becomes dry again. That will differ in every home because of heaters, windows, etc.
The amount of water you give your houseplant is also important. Water the entire soil surface until you start to see water drain out of the bottom, or into the saucer. That's when you know the potting soil is moist enough to get the plant through the next week. Once you do this regimen for a couple of months, there will be minimal gnats to none!
Look for a potting soil that has living compost in it and other natural ingredients that are not synthetic chemicals or fillers. A great potting soil can be found
Also, remember to compost your houseplants two to three times a year, by adding a great 1" of compost on top of the soil. There is no need to mix that compost in. At each watering, it will water into the soil below and help green up your plant's foliage and receive nutrients from the soil life to enable it to grow healthy and thrive.
The greatest organic cheat to give your houseplants the boost they need at any time of year is our Compost Tea for Houseplants. You can see how to use it
Enjoy living among your beautiful houseplants!
Can I drink your compost tea?
Very funny! While all Malibu Compost's Biodynamic Compost Teas are safe and non-toxic, they're really best for your plants and your soil! Think of them as probiotics for your plants.
We do have Compost Tea parties often when we teach about all the benefits of compost tea, but nobody drinks them! We serve delicious scones and the independent garden centers serve coffee and human drinkable tea!
To join any future Compost Tea parties in your area, look for them at the
How many times can I use a compost tea bag?
A compost tea bag is good for one brew of up to 5 gallons of water. Once you use it, you can bury the entire bag into your soil, open it up and spread the compost around, or just throw it at the base of a plant that needs it. It will biodegrade into the soil with each watering.
Above is a used compost tea bag at the base of a schefflera plant. Over time it will biodegrade and the leftover contents will spill into the soil and feed it more.
Here is another picture of that happening at the base of another plant after flipping the bag over:
Some people say they use it twice with good results, and that would be fine too. It would be like re-using a tea bag in your morning tea. The tea is not as strong, but still good!
What are biodynamic preparations?
All of our products contain biodynamic preparations in them. Rudolf Steiner, the grandfather of organics, used these special botanical ingredients. They are yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion and valerian. Rudolf Steiner said they activate subtle forces within the compost, improve the availability of nutrients and enhance growth and vitality.
Each of these benefit the soil in different ways and some benefit more plants than others. We use more of certain preparations to make our different biodynamic and organic compost teas. Some of the biodynamic preparations require a lot of time to break down and or ferment before using in our compost.
You can see how the ingredients differ here at our
compost tea products.
You can also see this chart that shows you more detailed benefits:
How many sleeves of compost tea should I purchase for my garden?
There are four tea bags in one sleeve of compost tea. Each tea bag makes 5 gallons of tea, so you could make up to 20 gallons of compost tea per one sleeve. Determine what a normal watering is for your garden plants and use that much compost tea. If your garden needs more than 20 gallons of tea at one single watering, then get two or more sleeves of tea for each recommended use time per year.
Where can I apply your compost?
Malibu Compost Bu's Blend Biodynamic Compost can be applied everywhere in your garden. It benefits annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and lawns. It also helps to grow the soil in your food gardens, vegetable beds and orchards. It will help to grow the biology in your soil that helps to feed your plants. It can be used as a compost, as a topdress, as a soil mix or for in-ground planting. It is farm-made, organic, biodynamic and non-gmo.
Go to DIRECTIONS FOR USE in our product description for exact quantities throughout:
Does too much compost tea hurt my garden?
Compost tea always helps your garden and too much never hurts it. The reason is that compost tea is full of good microorganisms and food for the microorganisms in the soil. The more good microorganisms there are in the soil, the more nutrients the plants receive. Organically, the microorganisms have a symbiotic relationship with the plants. The plants give microoganisms food, and the microorganisms give the plants nutrients. That is the true organic way. You can apply as much as you want or as little as you want and the soil and plants will always benefit.
When is the best time to use compost tea?
The best time to use compost tea is in the morning, as a soil drench or a spray. Morning teas will help keep pests and fungal diseases at bay since the soil and plants won't be too moist at night. This is the same for watering times. It is best to adjust your irrigation to morning settings after 5 a.m.