My Vortex Brewer® for Compost Tea

Stephen Storch is the inventor of the Vortex Brewer®. You can visit his website here.

The Old System

My old Compost Tea brewing system simply consisted of the standard Home Depot bucket with an aquarium pump and an air stone. I used a micro-meshed worm bag to place the compost in, filled the bucket with water. And let it brew for 24 to 48 hours.

After 24 hours, if the tea smelled earthy and kind of sweet, then I considered it ready to spray onto the plants.

For future consideration, it would be nice to go one step further and look at the compost tea under a microscope and observe the population of microbes. But, my gauge for weighing how successful the compost tea worked was always the health of the plants after applying the compost tea.

The important benefits after applying the compost tea:

  • The leaves of the plant became richer in color and more glossy.
  • The growth was much improved.
  • In rose bushes, there were more buds.
  • The plant, overall, was resistant to disease, especially rose bushes which can be susceptible to a variety of molds, fungal diseases and the like.

Incidentally, there’s a YouTube video out there where someone did a 28 day experiment to see if compost tea worked and used a control group of plants that didn’t get the tea.

Here’s the video:

He shows us that the control group thrived better and the plants seemed taller and bigger. This puts me in a dilemma because in my experience my plants have been thriving big time. I don’t have a control group, other than the fact that my plants didn’t do so good before compost tea was applied. So, my control group was pre-compost tea.

Anyway, I’m perplexed by this. But several people on YouTube are posting their DIY Compost Tea Brewer projects and they actually haven’t shown their plants and how well they’re thriving.

If anything, this guy who proved that compost tea doesn’t work, was trying them on seedlings. I’m thinking that compost tea shouldn’t be used on young seedlings because it would be too strong. They really should be used on fully-grown, established plants.

Pre-Compost Tea, my citrus trees were suffering and struggled to bring in the fruits, but after applying compost tea on a consistent, almost daily schedule, the citrus trees are thriving again! And we had a bumper crop of tangerines this year and my orange tree is finally fruiting.

Anyway, back to the current setup…

A Compost Tea Vortex Brewer®

Below is my own DIY setup for a Compost Tea Brewer.

I’m only using a 3 gallon bucket. And my reasons for this are:

  • 1. I don’t really like orange 5 gallon buckets.
  • 2. I’m thinking the black color will help with algae growth and minimize light.
  • 3. Carrying the 3 gallon buckets are easier than the 5 gallon buckets.

Vortex Brewer for making Compost Tea.

I find this compost tea brewer design fascinating. For one, I like the uptake pipe in which the end of the pump hose sits near the bottom. It’s recommended you use a commercial air pump for a stronger flow, and these things are pretty powerful. The airflow acts like a syphon, forcing the water from the hole in the bottom of the bucket and up the pipe to be distributed onto the surface of the water near the top of the bucket.

Note: The top parts of the PVC pipe setup aren’t glued. This is to allow some adjustment as needed to maximize water flow.

I had to experiment quite a bit on positioning the PVC pipe opening in order to get a good vortex going. My son and I found that it gets a good vortex when the pipe opening is closer to the wall of the bucket, and I’m still debating whether it’s better that the pipe opening touch the surface, or positioned just above it.

Needless to say, the compost tea brewer delivers a strong current of water and my concern with the older system was there might be stagnant areas at the bottom of the bucket where anaerobic bacteria, pathogens and the like might develop. With the compost tea brewer you get more movement at the bottom of the bucket and the water being more exposed to air for the aerobic bacteria to thrive.

I’ll keep you posted as to how the compost tea from the brewer works with the plants, and whether there is a significant improvement or not.

Compost Tea Results

The following are photos of the roses and orchids in the garden, after using compost tea consistently for the past 2 months.

Iceberg Roses – Floribunda




Cymbidium Orchids


Easy Doest It – Floribunda Rose


Double Delight – Hybrid Tea Rose





Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and

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