You don't have to spend money to get a nutrient-packed drink for your vegetables, I bet you have what you need at home for at least one of these liquid fertilizers.
Manure tea, compost tea, seaweed tea... if you add the word tea at the end it almost sounds appealing! Here are 5 liquid fertilizers you can make at home.
Homemade compost is known as black gold in the gardening world and compost liquid fertilizers, aka compost tea is the golden liquid!
You can use homemade compost from your regular compost bin or use the worm castings from your worm farm!
There are two ways to do this:
Aerated compost tea
Brewing compost tea an air pump produces a much more nutrient rich compost as it contains a huge amount of live beneficial microbes. An air pump used to filter the water in a fish tank is perfect for this.
Simple prepare the bucket of tea, by placing a pillowcases of compost in a large bucket (it's like a tea bag), add a few tablespoons of molasses as a food source, and fill with water.
Place in the air pump and keep it bubbling for 12- 36 hours. Then strain and use immediately.
Anaerobic compost tea
If you don't have access to an air pump, you can still brew a compost tea without one, however it won't be as nutrient dense. Most beneficial microbes need oxygen to survive and it's the pathogenic bacteria that don't.
Anaerobic means without air and sometimes this means you could be brewing a batch of tea with some not so good bacteria in there. To try help keep a balance, give your compost tea a stir often.
*Using worm castings to make tea is very different to using the leachate liquid of a worm farm. This leachate is the liquid that collects at the bottom of the worm farm. It's not as nutritious as worm castings as it's also an anaerobic liquid.
An excellent source of nitrogen. You'll need 1 part well-aged manure and 5 parts water, a large bucket (with a lid) and a sack/pillowcase.
Chicken, horse, sheep, it doesn't really matter what manure you use for this tea as long as it is from a herbivore animal and it is well-aged. Shovel the manure into the sack or pillowcase and place in the bucket.
Top with water and cover (it's like a giant tea bag) Let it sit for 1-2 weeks, stirring as often as you can. When you're ready to use it, dilute it until it's the colour of weak tea.
You can empty the manure filled sack into your compost afterward.
Seaweed Liquid Fertilizer
Living in New Zealand means this one is an easy one to make- there's nearly always a beach close by!
Seaweed is packed full of goodies for your plants including potassium, nitrogen, phosphate, and magnesium. It also helps combat transplant shock when moving plants and seedlings.
We are sticking with the ⅕ part ratio again. Scour your local beach for the seaweed, you won't need a huge amount. Give the seaweed a rinse then let it sit in a bucket covered with water.
The seaweed needs to decompose for this fertilizer so you can let it sit for about 8 weeks in a dark place, away from your house as this one can get a bit stinky! Stir it weekly.
Dilute it to a colour of weak tea.
Banana Peel Liquid Fertilizer(s)
Banana peel is such a treat for plants, especially roses. They're packed with potassium, phosphorus and calcium. You can make a banana peel fertilizer in a few different ways.
- Banana peel tea: Soak 2-3 banana peels in 600ml water for a few days, the minerals will leach into the water and you can use the water as it is for your plants, no need to dilute. Give the soaked peels to your worms or put in the compost
- Banana peel smoothie: Blitz your peels up with a cup of water to make a banana peel slurry! Pour this on the base of your roses, they'll love you for it.
- Banana smoothie: Spoiled, old bananas can be blitzed up too into liquid and poured around your plants. Try it in your vegetable garden!
Weedy Liquid Fertilizers
This liquid fertilizer has to be the easiest one to source and make!You can use all sorts of weeds from around your garden.
There are two ways to do this:
The first is sticking with the ⅕ ratio (1 part weeds, 5 parts water) and fill a bucket with all your sourced weeds. Cover with water and put a lid on it. Let it steep for about two weeks, stirring often. Dilute it until it's the colour of weak tea and use it anywhere in the garden. Once the weeds have decomposed in the bucket, chuck them in your compost and start again.
The second is brilliant for the leaves of larger plants like comfrey. Collect a buckets worth of leaves. Drill a few holes into the bucket and squish the leaves tightly into the bucket. Add a splash of water. Place this bucket over top of another bucket, but this second one needs no drainage holes. Now put a large rock or heavy weight on top of the leaves.
Leave this for a few weeks. The weight of the rock will squish the liquid out of the comfrey leaves and this liquid will collect in the second bucket. This black liquid can also be diluted until it's a weak tea colour. It's a much less stinky way to make a liquid fertiliser.
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