If you thought teas were only for drinking, you’ve still got a lot to learn. Sure, we can all admit that sipping a nice hot tea while watching a movie on a cold rainy day is incomparable to anything else, but believe it or not, you can actually use certain teas as effective plant fertilizers too. No need for high-risk fertilizers and harmful pesticides. Teas have more uses than you might think, and whether you are known as a green thumb with mad plant-handling skills or you have a backyard garden with neglected plants that you rarely ever touch, here we share some organic teas with you that are not only a piece of cake to brew up in your home kitchen, but will also help you step up your garden game.
Compost tea is a very effective nourishing substance that you can spray on the soil or even on the leaves of your plants. This tea helps kill foliar diseases, increases the amount of nutrients for the plant, and stimulates plant growth by speeding up the breakdown of toxins.
What you’ll need: A bucket, preferably a 10 gallon bucket, an aquarium pump or any kind of air pump, good quality compost (decayed, rotted leafy material), and a reliable water source.
Step 1: Fill your bucket with water. Let it sit for about a day before using if it is tap water.
Step 2: Add the rotted leafy material (compost). If you don’t have your own compost, you can normally get bagged compost from your local garden center.
Step 3: Pump the compost. By pumping you can now start the actual brewing process. This is what helps the good fungi and bacteria to start working. Make sure that your tube on your air pump is long enough to reach the bottom of the bucket. Make sure to fasten or weigh down the tub so it remains at the bottom and doesn’t rise to the surface.
Step 4: Brew the tea. Place the bucket outside, cover it up, and let it sit for 2-4 days.
Your end result will be a thick, rich, foamy substance which can be sprayed on the leaves of your plants or even on the surround soil.
Manure tea is another excellent and effective way to fertilize your plants. Yes, it might seem gross, but animal excrements actually contain very high levels of nutrients, more specifically nitrogen, which is an essential component for healthy plants. The best part is, using manure tea is a completely sustainable practice; there is no need for any dangerous chemicals, harmful pesticides, or any other synthetic enhancers. Making manure tea doesn’t even require much time or effort, it is super easy to prepare and apply to your plants.
Obviously you want to use some type of animal manure as your base, but there are excrements from certain animals like goats, cows, horses, and even rabbits that are more recommendable. Forget manure from your pet dog or cat because that won’t quite do the job. If you don’t happen to have access to any of these you can always buy a bag at your local garden center. First, grab a 5 gallon bucket or any kind of bucket that will hold a lot of water. Second, add enough manure to fill the bucket the rest of the way. Leave it soak for about a day or two. Remember to stir the mixture once or twice a day. After stirring for the final time, let it sit for awhile so the solids can settle to the bottom. Finally, try to dilute your manure tea as much as possible with water until it is a light brown, pale yellow color. Now just pour into the container or bottle of your preference and you’re all set to spray your plants.
Alfalfa comes in many different forms such as hay, silage, and pellets. Having numerous uses, alfalfa is more widely used for medical purposes, containing special vitamins and certain minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron that benefit people with bladder, prostate, and even kidney conditions. Although it is more commonly known for its medical uses, alfalfa can also be used to make organic tea that you can use as a sustainable fertilizer in your backyard garden. Like many other organic teas, alfalfa tea contains a supreme level of nitrogen which significantly enhances plant grown and even more plant-beneficial minerals that help enrich the soil such as zinc, phosphorous, and magnesium. Alfalfa also releases certain hormones that help strengthen plant roots, optimize the photosynthesis process, and subdue any harmful disease in the soil.
Anyone can make this tea, it’s really that easy. You can use chopped up alfalfa leaves, alfalfa meal, or even alfalfa pellets. To make this tea as a foliar spray all you need is your alfalfa (which ever form you prefer), bucket of water, and some Epsom salt if you wish. Begin by simply mixing the alfalfa with your water (using approximately 4 cups for every 5 gallons). If you would like to add Epsom salt to your mixture, we recommend you use about 1-2 cups. This salt contains components such as magnesium and sulfur and will even help keep away common garden pests. Cover your mixture and let the tea set to ferment for 5-7 days. When you start to smell something funny you’ll know it’s ready.
Your plants will surely thank you for this one. Nettle, also known as stinging nettle or common nettle, is a tonic perennial herb found in early spring that, despite its wide variety of medical uses, can be also be used to create a homemade garden fertilizer commonly known as stinging nettle manure due to its smell when fermenting. You can normally find this plant along country side roads, abandoned farmlands, moist woodlands, thickets, along fence lines and rivers, and shaded trails in the beginning of spring each year. If you don’t have access to it you can always look for it at your local garden or health food store. Nettle contains numerous beneficial vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
To make you stinging nettle garden fertilizer, all you have to do is fill a 5 gallon bucket (or the bucket size of our preference) with chopped up nettle foliage. Next, fill the bucket with rainwater about 90% of the way. Finally, cover your mixture and set it in a warm, sunny place, giving it a quick stir every day. After about 2 weeks, your fertilizer will be completely fermented. You’ll know by the way it smells. Dilute your mixture with water and when using make sure to leave the rotted debris behind and use only the clear, foamy liquid that was produced from the brewing process. When applying, pour this fertilizer at the base of the plants where the roots have instant access.
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. You don’t only have to read about how these teas work and how they are made, you can make them yourself and actually have a lot of fun doing it while supporting sustainable, eco-friendly practices that are not only beneficial to your plants, but to Mother Earth too. After all, what a better day than Earth Day to raise awareness, start a new organic practice of your own, and most of all make a special contribution to environmental protection.
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