Making Manure Tea / Organic Fertilizer
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Manure Tea / Making Organic Fertilizer

written by joseph cash

 A fairly easy way to keep the garden beautiful and productive is to give it liquid fertilizer every six weeks or so. The easiest organic equivalent is "manure tea".

 To make the tea, start with about three pounds of manure. Bags of cow manure can be purchased inexpensively from a garden center. Place the manure in a bucket of water, kept outside. Keep the remainder of the manure sealed and dry for future use.

 The manure should steep at least three days, stirred occasionally. The bucket should be covered to discourage insects. When the water becomes brown as weak tea, it is ready to use.

 The tea can be poured around the roots of the plants, or it can be strained through several layers of cloth to use in a sprayer. Plants can absorb some nutrients directly through their leaves, so spraying them can give them a quick boost. Dilute to one quarter strength with water to be sure you don't burn the garden plants. Some plants respond well to foliar feeding (having their foliage sprayed). Before you spray manure tea, add 1/8 tsp. vegetable oil or mild dish-washing liquid per gallon to help it adhere to leaves.

 Use the manure for a month, then replace with fresh manure. Add the used manure to the compost heap or dig it into the garden soil between the plants. Scratch it in shallowly to avoid damaging the roots.

 For larger quantities, use a 40 gallon trash can. Use a burlap bag filled with about eight pounds of manure. Dunk it into the water filled trash can. Raise and lower it occasionally and keep the lid on the can. Dip out the tea when needed and replace the manure in the bag once a month.  Manure tea makes a fine transplant solution when diluted three parts water to one part tea. After you put the plant in the transplant hole, add the tea to fill the hole. When the liquid drains, fill the hole with soil and firm it around the plant.

 Manure tea can also be used on potted plants. Dilute to one tenth strength to use on plants in containers weekly.

 Alternatives to cow manure include manure from horses, rabbits, sheep, or chickens. It is not a good idea to use manure from dogs or cats as it risks spreading disease. You can use compost in place of manure, though it likely won't be as strong. You can even use fresh grass clippings, as it rots the nutrients will enter the water and will be available for garden plants.

Making Compost Tea

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