Compost Tea Percolator

A way to make Comfrey or Nettle tea without the smell.
A way to make Comfrey or Nettle tea without the smell.

Comfrey and Nettle compost teas are renowned for their high levels of nutrients and their ability to give any plant a boost.

The traditional way of making compost teas from these plants usually involves placing a goodly portion of the leaves and stems into a bucket of water, covering, then leaving the mix for up to a couple of months.

The downside of making these teas is the smell. They can really stink!

Several times in the past, I’ve come across designs and ‘how-tos’ for a device for making these liquids with an absolute minimum of (and some claim no) smell. The design’s not my own, but I’ll step you through how I made one from spare parts I had in the shed.

I’m using 90 mm PVC pipe and fittings because that’s what I had the most of laying around but you can use bigger if you have them. I wouldn’t go smaller that 75 mm though because you just wont fit enough plant material into a manageable length of pipe. My next one is going to be using 150 mm PVC because I want to use it for making another kind of liquid fertilizer as well.


The parts list

  • slip threaded end
  • threaded cap (use the type shown, with the internal ridge, it seals better under pressure)
  • slip on cap
  • rubber ‘top hat’ grommet
  • a metre or so of 90 mm PVC
  • a little 19 mm black polypipe
  • a metre or so of waterproof string or fishing line
  • a nail or something similarly shaped about 2 cm long.
  • silicon
  • some kind of material to make a filter inside the pipe
  • optional: 20 mm threaded joiner
  • optional: 20 mm PVC pipe
  • optional: large nut to lock the 20 mm threaded joiner

The tools

  • drill
  • 5 mm drill bit
  • 22 mm or 25 mm spade bit
  • silicon gun
  • fine file

Step by step

We need a cap to form the bottom and a way attaching an outlet.

Start by drilling a 22 mm hole in the threaded cap wide enough to slip the 19 mm top hat end through or a 25 mm hole if your’e using the threaded connector

Slide the grommet into the 22 mm hole in the threaded end cap.

Slide the 90mm threaded end onto the 90mm pipe and glue. Then slip the 20mm pipe into the connector on the end cap. Thread the end cap onto the pipe end.

Fill the bottle with water, sand or anything heavy. I had a few fishing weights laying around to add extra weight.

Drill a small hole through the slip on end cap and thread the string through.

Tie it around the nail or whatever you’re using so that it won’t slip back through. Tie the other end of the string around the neck of the bottle. You can just tie the end to the post that holds the pipe up.

Remove the screw cap and place the filter material inside. Recap the pipe.

Place the pipe somewhere vertical and attach firmly..

Put a good amount of plant material into the pipe.

Slip the bottle into the pipe.

Place the slip on end cap onto the pipe to close it all up.


There, you’ve made a liquid fertilizer manufacturing plant on a small scale.

The idea is that the weighted bottle presses down firmly and slowly onto the mass of green material, squeezing the juice out. This then collects at the bottom and flows into whatever container is placed below it.

I’ve used a bucket for the picture, but a container with a smaller opening is better. That’ll help exclude bugs and contaminants.

Use the results as a liquid feed by during it about 1 to 10 or 1-20. It makes an excellent foliar spray and the plants in the aquaponics love it!


If you want to make it more robust:

To make the setup a bit more robust, especially if you’re using larger diameter pipe, you may want to use a threaded joiner and lock nut instead of the rubber top hat or gasket in the bottom cap.

A family with a garden near Gawler where we experiment with sustainability.

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