We’ve talked about compost tea but how about manure tea? Manure is a wonderful substance. Depending on the direction a person’s academic background took, the word invokes different imagery.
Some see a natural fuel source, some are reminded of the Defenestration of Prague (in which two Catholic representatives and their secretary were defenestrated – thrown out a window – into a pile of manure, sparking the Thirty Years’ War), some as a source of dangerous bacteria, and some as the ultimate plant food.
When it comes to using manure as a plant food, most people have heard of manure-based fertilizer (and have smelled it at some point in their lives), but did you know it could also be turned into a substance similar to compost tea?
Manure tea is an easy DIY liquid fertilizer that supplements your regular feeding practices to help nutrient-hungry plants when they need it most.
Unlike commercial liquid fertilizers, manure tea is a completely organic fertilizer. Just what is this wonder food and when should you use it?
Manure Tea Is The Best Fertilizer For Most Food Crops
By adding manure tea to your vegetable garden, you’re providing a number of easily absorbed nutrients perfect for cereals and vegetable gardening.
Root crops, such as beets, carrots, and potatoes, require a lot of potassium, but less nitrogen. As a result, they benefit less from using manure and get no additional root growth.
On the other end, cereals and vine plants are heavy feeders and regular manure fertilization doesn’t provide nutrients as quickly as a fertilizer tea.
Those who grow tomatoes will already be familiar with the concept of pouring beer over the roots for fuller, tastier fruit.
Manure tea fertilizer works the same way, providing food for even the hungriest of your garden plants.
How To Make Manure Tea Fertilizer
Making this liquid fertilizer is incredibly easy, although there are a few tricks for the best batch.
Even better, the manure tea recipe doesn’t require the same complicated ritual for making drinkable tea as laid out by Douglas Adams.
Following this simple step by step recipe, you can create a batch of manure tea concentrate that can last an entire crop cycle or longer.
What you’ll need:
- Aged manure – Aim for chicken, cow, goat, rabbit, or horse manure. Avoid cat or dog poop, as these contain harmful pathogens that might infect your food.
- Large bucket or Container
- Pillowcase or Burlap Sack (to make a large tea bag)
- A Watering Can or Spray Bottle
Begin with three handfuls of manure (or three trowel’s worth, if you don’t want to touch the manure). Avoid using fresh manure as it’s too strong for the tea.
Place the manure in your tea bag pillowcase or sack, then tie it securely to the side of the container.
Add water, preferably in a ratio of 5 parts water to one part poop.
Steep for 1 to 2 weeks, then remove the sack, wringing it into the container or suspending it above until it has finished dripping.
For those who would rather not deal with giant tea bags, it’s also possible to add the manure directly to the water for a faster steep time.
The manure tea must be stirred frequently to ensure the manure doesn’t settle.
After 4 to 5 days, strain the mixture through cheesecloth to remove any solids.
The solids may be discarded or added to your garden or compost pile.
Using Manure Tea Fertilizer The When And How
You can use manure tea to fertilize any plant that requires soil with high organic matter.
Nutrient-hungry plants such as cereal grains should be fed throughout the growing season.
Before use, dilute your tea by adding one cup to a gallon bucket of water, as the full strength will be too potent.
Pour or spray the diluted manure tea over the roots weekly or when you water low-moisture plants each growing season.
Please note that when used in conjunction with composting, fertilizer tea is a great way to augment your soil, but it won’t improve poor soil conditions.
If soil tests show the quality is too poor to support the plant or crop you want to plant, manure tea won’t solve the problem.