Compost Tea Organic Farming and Liquid Organic Farming Fertilizers for Organic Gardening

Liquid manure is oft regarded as the best of all fertilizers. Here we cover compost tea organic farming and other liquid organic farming fertilizer: includes recipes for making your own, plus how to use liquid fertilizers in organic gardening.

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Organic composts and other solid manures are great but they have one drawback over conventional soluble fertilizers – they take a while to break down in the soil and become available to plants.

So, for the successful growing of heavy feeding crops the judicious use of compost tea and other liquid manures has a role. This is particularly so in soils that have only recently been brought into production, and where a preparatory green manure crop has not been grown.

COMPOST TEA

Compost tea organic farming is a popular traditional way to boost plant productivity. Compost tea is easy and simple to make, and benefits your garden in some key ways:

• As a liquid fertilizer, its high nutrient value and rapid availability makes it a great tonic for plants.

• Because it is rich in the microorganisms that recycle organic matter, compost tea also boosts the plant and soil enhancing activity of soil life. These work on soil material to make nutrients more available to plants, resulting in a stronger, healthier garden.

How to Make Compost Tea

Compost tea is commonly made using ripe compost.

Set up for making compost tea or liquid manure

However, you could also use well decayed and pulverized cow manure.

Method:

• First almost fill a large bucket or tub with water (if using tap water allow it to stand overnight to rid it of chlorine which will otherwise kill the soil biota in the compost). It is best if the container used has a close fitting lid to exclude mosquitoes and limit odor. A plastic rubbish bin or 44 gallon drum with lid are good options.

• Then make up a compost “tea-bag” using a Hessian sack, onion bag or square of shadecloth. Inside the tea-bag place an amount of compost or cow manure that is roughly one-tenth of the volume of your water. So for a 25 litre bucket you’d use about 2.5 litres of compost. Tie the “tea-bag” securely closed and immerse it in the water.

• The mixture needs to steep for one to three weeks before it’s ready to use. In the meantime, like any good cuppa, the tea will be greatly improved by giving the tea-bag a good daily dunking. Liquid fertilizer aeration by frequent agitation of the mix speeds the process and produces a better result.

To use Compost Tea:

Just dilute the Tea at the rate of about one part concentrate to 4 parts water. Strain it to remove any stray bits, and apply directly to your plants with a watering can. It is best used frequently as a dilute solution the color of weak conventional tea rather than as a stronger solution less often. The residue left behind can be put to good use into your worm farm or compost.

OTHER HOMEMADE LIQUID FERTILIZERS

Bird Manure Tea:

Pigeon or poultry manure (together with feathers) makes a powerful liquid manure. It can be made the same way as Compost Tea, but owing to its potency, should be diluted 1:20 rather than 1:4. These manures also break down into finer particles in water so a tighter mesh will be needed for the tea-bag. Old pantyhose works well!

Pigeon manure in particular is a rich source of phosphorus and nitrogen, both of which are vital building blocks for plant proteins and growth.

Weed Broths

Many weeds and herbs have a superior ability to extract specific minerals from the soil, being “dynamic accumulators” of such mineral nutrients. Check out the table below and you’ll begin to see weeds with new eyes.

Dynamic accumulators table: herbs and weeds

The plant tissues of dynamic accumulator weeds and herbs become a rich source of mineral elements whose potential can be unlocked by making teas from them. Just follow the same method used for making compost tea, as described above.

If you fancy boosting the nitrogen content, save up and add your own urine to the mix!!! Why waste such good stuff?

How to Make Fish Liquid Fertilizer

Fish residues are very rich in both nitrogen and phosphorus, both valuable fertilizers required in large amounts by heavy feeding crops.

On a trip to New Zealand several years ago I was fortunate to visit a biodynamic community in the North Island that was actively making liquid fertilizer from fish. The fish derived from commercially worthless “over-catch” from the nearby ocean fisheries industry.

The method was the same as for making compost tea, except the fish were suspended whole in large vats. Naturally, the smell was indescribable, so the vats were stationed in a remote part of the farm where they wouldn’t offend anyone’s olfactory sensibilities! Each day some lucky soul was elected to take their turn at giving the brew a good stir with a large paddle. After a few weeks, the resulting “tea” was strained and diluted for use.

PROPER APPLICATION OF LIQUID FERTILIZER

Liquid fertilizer, diluted to the color of “weak tea”, can be applied at the rate of 20 litres (5 gallons) a week to every 6 metres (6 yards) of row. It will be particularly valuable applied during the peak leaf growth, flowering and fruiting stages of your plants.

Ensure the ground is damp before applying, and avoid spraying it on your plants as a foliar fertilizer during hot periods as it could burn the foliage.

Adequately filtered teas can also be pumped through irrigation systems for broad scale application in organic farming and gardening.

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