Last year I build a compost tea brewer that created a vortex. Time has taught me a few things and today I rebuilt the brewer to make the whole operation a lot easier.
The whole vortex thing is impressive and fun to watch but I really don't see the benefit. If you are into the mystical power of vortex then this design is not your cup of tea (Like the pun?)
Once the tea was made transporting to the garden became a choir that I disliked so much that the tea would often sit too long and ended up being wasted. The trick was to make clean tea that I could pump through a hose to the garden beds. Experiments showed me that simply placing the compost in a strainer bag did not let sufficient water flow through the bag.
This new design uses an airlift pump to recirculate the tea water through a strainer bag filled with compost. The airlift adds plenty of aeration to the tea.
I built this from parts I had around and will change the 3/4" pipe going to the bag to a 2" pipe for even better flow. A PVC Slip Coupling on this pipe holds the bag in place with the zip tie just above the coupling.
I also cut the container down to a depth that I can comfortably reach the bottom of. Cleaning the 33" tall 55 gallon drum was quite difficult and messy since I had to place my head an shoulders into the drum in order to scrub it out.
I'm running the new design for the first time right now. Cleanup will be easy as removing the bag of compost and wiping out the barrel. Distribution will be done with a high powered sump pump. I will be able to spray full strength tea on my plants and water them with an abundance of active microbes.
With this easy brewer I will be far more likely to brew very often.
For those who are looking carefully at the photos you may have noticed the 2" pipe connects through the bottom. This adds stability to the pipes. I might not have done this except the original design used this hole to create the vortex. It think it is a good idea and may even replace the cap that I put on to seal the bottom with a 2" valve in case I should ever want to drain the barrel from the bottom.
Most of these pipes are not glued so they all come apart easily for cleaning.
After using this design I saw a way easily increase the flow so I extended the air lift all the way to the ground. This design works just as well and turned out to be even quieter than the previous design. Cleanup is not significantly more difficult so I will keep these changes, In fact it is so easy that I would not have any trouble making tea every day.