Liquid manure: a quick fix for sickly plants

2009-12-22 00:00

LIQUID manures (teas) are easy to prepare and can be used either to give a boost to plants that are not thriving, or to give young plants a boost during the first four to six weeks of growth.

Apply to the roots and to the leaves (as a foliar feed) once a week early in the morning before the sun heats up. They work quickly and give the plants a big boost. They can also be used for feeding perennials, shrubs, fruit trees and trees in a slightly higher concentration.

Manure tea

Contains a lot of nitrogen.

Fill a small hessian sack or an old plastic-mesh vegetable bag with manure and hang it in a bucket or a drum of water for about two weeks.

Quarter-fill a bucket or watering can with the liquid manure and add water to the top. The diluted mixture should be the colour of weak tea.

One 10-litre bucket of this manure tea is enough for one square metre of garden. Water the roots and the leaves of the plants.

Compost tea

Contains many different nutrients and is good for seedlings and for helping your plants to fight disease.

Make this in the same way as manure­ tea but soak for one night only­. Mix half a bucket of tea with half a bucket of water.

Seaweed tea

Contains large amounts of all minerals plus other substances which stimulate root growth in plants. Strong root systems are essential for healthy plants.

Collect, rinse and chop up some seaweed. Soak one bag of seaweed in a drum of water for one or two weeks.

Mix half a bucket of tea and half a bucket of water.

Comfrey tea

Mixed nutrients and the best source of organic potassium.

There are a number of different methods for producing comfrey tea.

Place about half a kilogram of comfrey leaves in a 10-litre container and fill with water. Cover tightly. The comfrey goes black and ferments rapidly­.

In about four weeks the clear liquid can be drained off. Mix one part of the tea with one part of water. This is good for tomatoes that are just beginning to fruit. Put the residue onto the compost heap.

Word of warning

The smell of this brew is overpowering. Arm yourself with a clothes peg.

Use a 25-litre bucket with a tap, or a hole, at the bottom.

Pack the leaves into the bucket until it is crammed full and put a weight on top of them. Put a lid on the bucket and a can underneath the tap or hole.

After about two weeks you will be able to collect a concentrated liquid, which should be diluted into the ratio of 25 ml of liquid to one litre of water. The concentrate stores well in a sealed bottle for later use.

A method that is less smelly

Mix half a kilogram of chopped comfrey leaves into 10 litres of water and two litres of urine.

Allow this mixture to ferment for two weeks.

Strain the liquid off and dilute with water in the ratio of one part comfrey tea to 10 parts water. •  From Grow to Live by Pat Featherstone­.

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