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DIY: Compost Tea

8/18/2009 2:23:49 PM

Tags: Compost, Tea, Gardening, Tips, Comfrey, Nettle, Parsley, Dandelion, Stinging Nettle, Horsetail


If you’re an herbie, then chances are you love tea. Any herbalista does! (Click here for our favorite iced tea recipes.) But did you know that your herbs also enjoy tea? Just like people consuming tea, garden herbs and weeds provide nourishment and nutrients for growing plants. Although many gardeners can never brew a batch of compost tea and still be successful with their gardens, there are times when crafting a liquid fertilizer can really improve the quality of your soil. Such as …

• when plants are showing little to know sign of growth and showing obvious signs of stress or disease.

• when plants appear to need an extra boost.

• when you have only a small amount of compost and widespread poor soil conditions. (Compost tea makes the benefits of compost go farther.)

Compost tea is made almost exactly how it sounds—steeping compost in water. You can apply compost tea to your lawn and/or garden using a pump sprayer, hose-end sprayer or a watering can. First, choose which herb to use in your compost concoction. Athough it's best to use an herb found most common in your garden, not every herb has the nutritional content your lawn needs. Try these herbs, which have a variety of nutritional content:

Russian Comfrey
Photo by Barry Cornelius/Courtesy Flickr

• Comfrey: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, C and other trace materials.
• Nettle: vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, phosphorus, potassium, boron, bromine, copper, iron, selenium and zinc.
• Parsley: vitamins A and C, iron, copper and manganese.
• Dandelion: vitamins A and C, calcium and potassium.
• Stinging Nettle: magnesium, sulphur and iron. (You Grow Girl)
• Horsetail: silica. (You Grow Girl)

(Click here to read more about why plants need tea.)

To create your herb tea fertilizer, fill a 5-gallon bucket with your pruned herb of choice and pack it in tightly. (Using a heavy object such as a brick or a stone may help keep the herbs tightly packed.) Next, pour in water until it reaches the top of your container and let the mix sit for a day or two until the leaves break down. Place in direct sunlight and remember to stir every now and then. Strain the mixture and start composting.

(Read The Complete Compost Gardening Guide.)

Have you ever used a liquid tea fertilizer? What herb do you like to use for your herbal concoction? Drop me a comment and let me know!

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