DIY Compost Tea

In our last post we discussed the importance of soil tests and what nutrients plants require to thrive. There are numerous ways to improve your soil but may of them take quite a bit of time. Like the rest of gardening, using organic methods like cover cropping and mulching to build healthy soil requires patience. Sometimes you’ll need to quickly get nutrients to your plants. A great simple and affordable way to give your plants a boost is to water them with compost or manure tea.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 5 gallon or other large bucket
  • compost, manure, or grass clippings
  • water
  • optional: egg or oyster shells

To get started fill your bucket about 1/4 full with compost, manure, or grass clippings. Using any of these will provide your plants with nitrogen. Then if you’ve decided to use shells (this is where a soil test is handy) add about 1/2 cup to your bucket before filling it the rest of the way with water.

Store the mixture well to ensure all your ingredients are well mixed and not just floating in the water. Then allow it to steep for 2 days, giving it an occasional stir once or twice a day.

You can then water plants with it. For plants in the garden, water around the base with about 2 cups per plant. For seedlings or potted plants add about 1/2 cup compost tea to a gallon of water. If they were showing signs of a nitrogen deficiency you should see an improvement in just a couple of days!

You can also use this as a foliar spray but be sure to dilute it first! Use about 10 parts water to 1 part tea.

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