By Billie and Robert Nicholson
No, we mean compost tea. Want to save money and the environment at the same time? Well, we just may have your cup of tea. Fertilize your garden and trees all year long at little to no cost by repurposing the very materials that most people consider waste anyway.
The tea is simple to make and use, all you need is a used barrel with a tight fitting lid. We used a left-over 32 gallon heavy duty plastic trash can. Whatever you choose make sure that your container was not previously used for harsh chemicals or poison. The tight fitting lid insures that mosquitos don’t breed in your tea.
Place all your grass clippings and green weeds, with most of the soil cleared from the roots, and uncooked kitchen vegetable scraps into your barrel. Add water to cover, follow with animal manure (not human), urea, and epson salts. Add more of each as time goes by. Soon your plants will be thanking you with robust foliage and roots that will serve you well all year long. A healthier plant will also be able to do a better job of warding off plant disease.
Let this mixture sit about a month. You can then draw out some of this nutrient rich tea to water your plants. In the meantime keep adding more of everything so that the process of making compost tea continues in the barrel. Think of your tea barrel like a batch of sourdough bread starter, always adding more. When ready to use your delicious garden tea, hold your nose, dip out with a small bucket and apply to your plants as needed.
It should be noted that no fertilizer can overcome fundamental problems of poor drainage, injury by rodents, nematodes, viruses, pesticides and herbicides which may cause problems with your plants. You may also find that you need to use a light application of an organic fertilizer to supplement your compost tea.
Lastly, we recommend that you know the pH of your soil. Depending on what you wish to plant, we recommend that a pH neutral soil be maintained. The county extension agent will have kits and instructions for determining the condition of your soil. We have a well and our water is pH five. We run it through a whole-house size filter and our water is applied to the garden at pH seven.
Enjoy your gardening and listen while in your garden because your happy plants will be thanking you.
Billie and Robert welcome your comments and/or questions. Contact them at BillieandRobert@gmail.com