DIY "FERTILIZER TEA"
By Cindy Nipper of Tree of Life Revelation 22:2 and SRSC Seed Grower
I don't use commercial fertilizers. I make my own "fertilizer tea" for feeding my garden plants.
I am not a scientist, I do not have a degree or even background in science. I do not use a microscope. I do not test my solution. I use my garden like an experiment and am constantly learning new things from reading, others, and my experiences in my garden. This is just what I do. You need to evaluate my information and make decisions on if you're going to try this, modify it, or decide not to use it. Only you can decide how you will garden on your land.
DIY "FERTILIZER TEA"
Fill a 5 gallon or larger container with anything from the list below. Use one or more. Different items have different benefits and can be harvested at different times of the year. Top your container with water. Close the lid. (If it doesn't have a lid, cover with plastic or wood to keep insects from laying eggs, and to keep the smell contained some.)
Wait at least two weeks, (you can continue to add to this container and continue to use every two weeks). You could use a 55 gallon drum and use it all year, continuing to use and add all season long.
Dilute 10 to 1. That's 10 parts water to one part "DIY Fertilizer Tea", and water garden as normal. (A "part" refers to any amount with your measurements. A small to medium garden can use maybe 5 gallons of the diluted mix, so use ½ gallon concentrated solution and 5 gallons of water. You can measure with a cup or a quart or a gallon or more depending on how much area you'll be fertilizing.)
A few possible ingredients:
- Healthy soil from a mature forest or a well established healthy fruit or nut tree that hasn't been sprayed with chemicals.
- Aged Compost. Beware of your source. Grazon is a long lasting weed killer used on grasses as feed and bedding for animals. These do NOT die off with digestion. An animal that has eaten these grasses will still have the remains in their manure.
- Aged Manure. Again beware of your source. Grazon is a long lasting weed killer used on grasses as feed and bedding for animals. These do NOT die off with digestion. An animal that has eaten these grasses will still have the remains in their manure. Manure is also mixed with bedding so just because they didn't eat something with Grazon, doesn't mean their bedding wasn't sprayed. Their manure will still be tainted if mixed with bedding materials that were sprayed.
- Comfrey leaves
- Nettle leaves
- Grass Clippings
- Rhubarb leaves (they're poisonous to eat, but are nutritious for plants).
- Chamomile (be careful of mature seeds in the flowers)
- Borax (just the tiniest amount-smaller than a pinch per five gallons)
- Epsom salt (also a small amount, ½ cup or less per five gallons)
- Weeds (no mature seeds)
- Ashes if you have acidic soil. Don't use if you have alkaline soil.
- Banana peels
- Coffee grounds
- Spent brewery grains
- Spent mushroom substrate
- Fresh or spoiled milk (even plant based milks like soy, oat and almond)
- Egg shells, finely crushed
- Fish, whole or in part
- Seafood shells, crushed (clams, mussels, crawdads, shrimp, crab, lobster, etc.)
- If something has a deep root, use it.
- If something is from a different area like the coast and you live in the desert, use it.
- I've added pinches of sand from our travels.
- Something from a volcanic area.
They all add different nutrients, different minerals, if the plants can't use it, it will lay dormant waiting for a plant that can. Except salts. Those can both wash away, and stay depending on the variety and amount. Protect your garden from excess salts.
Remember seeds can stay dormant for a long time. Some over 50 years. Some need a change like a fire to cause them to sprout.
Learn to read your weeds and discover what your soil is missing.
Personally, I am excited to implement this information in the garden this season!
- Mary K
Dandelion photo via Flicker CCBY Truus, Bob & Jan too!