Making Manure Tea

Los Angeles, CA


I put some fresh horse manure into a five gallon bucket (filled the bucket half-full with the manure), then filled the bucket with water. Its been sitting for almost 2 months now, not stirred much.

Any ideas on how I can dilute it to use it? Any ideas on how long this will store and still be viable?

Could I just pour it into my compost pile?

Thanks - Julie in Southern California

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Julie- sorry your question has been overlooked till now- Everybody must be on vacation or out weeding!
I'm afraid your bucket of manure tea is a mess by now. Good manure tea is some thing that's made and used pretty promptly. I didn't come up with an easy link inside DG , but you could
try searching DG for ' "manure tea" ,' or google it, for directions.

What you have now is a bucket with anaerobic stuff in it. It will stink but I would dump it in some corner somewhere and let it fix itself over winter.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

When I was very young, I remember my grandfather going outside and getting horse manure from the nearby road. He would then put it in a bucket, fill it with water, dilute it further with more water and pour it around his roses. He won lots of ribbons for those roses! I don't remember him letting it stand around for too long - probably because grandma wouldn't let him!

Haven't thought of that mental picture for a long time - thanks for bringing back such a good memory of my grandparents may they R.I.P.

Novato, CA

I was just going to ask about manure tea. What I have been doing is making a mixture of horse manure, and or fish and kelp goop from the nursery and fill the bucket full of water. I let it stand with the top on in the sun for a few days. I then dilute it about half and half and pour it around the roses. So far it seems to work. I am just not sure how often this should be done. I am sure there is someone on here that can answer our questions. Lela

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Putting organic stuff in water will give you a bucket of soluble fertilizer, with a low level of bacteria. If you have used it and everything seems good or better, then you can continue. As to how much, there are a lot of variables in the process.
A more advanced method starts that way but uses strong aeration (air pump) to make it a bucket of soluble fertilizer with a high population of good soil organisms.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

I take my finished compost and put it in a bucket and add water and filter out the pieces and pour it directly on to my house plants. Then no anerobic bugs get started. But letting it sit for a day takes the oxygen rich bacterias and suffocates them and the stinky ones take over.

NORTH CENTRAL, PA(Zone 5a) have a pretty good handle on aerobic tea except for one thing.
.........If aerobic tea is properly finished it becomes totally living critters and fungi depending on the mix to determine dominance. There is no fertilizer in properly finished aerobic tea. The total volume is however ready to create natural conversions including the creation of natural fertilizers when applied to the plants and soil.

Any raw materials unfinished or not consumed by the critters and fungi remain just that and go into your soil very modestly building the organic base of the soil. Even this will have to be consumed and processed by the biology of the natural soil and the biology just added to the soil.

Novato, CA

Sally, I only keep it for several day and open it and stir it several times a day. I am afraid to leave the top off because the dogs would think it was there for them. I wonder if I would be better off just mixing it with the compost and putting it and the compost around the plants? Everything I have read on manure tea says to let it stand for about three days then dilute and pour on the roses. You can see why it is confusing. I understand the idea of anaerobes but I thought the stirring it was to keep the oxygen in.. I just can't image trying to rig up a pump to it with all the work it already takes to keep all my roses blooming. I could just put the horse manure on the roses which is pretty easy and I have lot's available but then the dogs go crazy. So without using the pump, what would be the next best plan? thanks. Lela

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

As you initially said it was standing for two months, I'd say the better plan is just stand a few days, as you say just above, stirring sometimes, and then pour around. I understand how dogs can go after horse apples. Meanwhile, the rest of the manure, if you can mix it in with compost, will be aging very nicely and hopeflyy losing the dog-attracting qualities.

doc is 'The Man' on aerobic teas. he may have another plan.


I've over the years worked with many kinds of tea. Using manure and an old canoe paddle is where everyone starts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that method of aeration. It will be a little better quality than a container just left sit for any given period of time. It will not be of the quality achieved in properly made aerobic tea using proven equipment and proven compost.

Several years ago Organic Gardening Magazine had an article that started with raw manure tea and a canoe paddle. They then step by step showed all how improve tea making clear up to compost aerobic tea and beyond. They clearly stated that any level of tea making skill is quite OK. The maker needs to know his or her tea is fine but can be improved. Each making should improve most gardens.

A very simple tea made from soaking alfalfa is another way to start. Alfalfa is thought to be equal to kelp. Kelp tea has been used for years by some gardeners. To make alfalfa tea even better add an ounce of fish oil per gallon. This week I used Bat Guana Tea in the house and around the edges of the patio. Next week it may be fish/kelp. I change it every week using the fertilization theory of do it weakly weekly.

If our soils are thought to be poor there is still likely nothing better than raw manure teas and compost made with manures. I feel we need manures to build soils including green plant crop covers and animal manures.

Marshfield, MA

I have a couple of BIG barrels a quarter filled with a mix of fresh seaweed and turkey poop which contains quite a few small wood chips. It also has a healthy dose of compost and one of them even has a fish rack in it...

These barrels STINK and I mean STINK but that doesn't mean they have lost all value. I dilute liberally and pour five gallon buckets on the root lines of established trees and shrubs. I will even dilute it more and use it on my daylilys and a few other things I consider "tough" They don't mind.

I am sure it is not ideal but am I causing any harm that I am not seeing? I am being careful about burn.

I have a bad habit of digging wide holes for trees and shrubs I don't yet have which I know is odd but I will tell you that a wide hole filled with compost, rinsed seaweed and native soil just LOVES my toxic brew. It's very rich but it will sure settle a hole five gallons at a time and by next spring those hole will be dying to have occupants. Even rotten old tea will get the soil activity going and I find the worms gravitate to it. Even a bucket on top of the compost heap does wonders by the time it leaches to the bottom. Plus I LIKE the smell...


Your nose, eyes and your plants are answering your question. Trust them. Just understand that there are better ways because time and biologcal study have marched on to higher levels. We should each do what we trust. Each level of expertise has its values and will improve the soil it is added to. You are digging a fifty dollar hole for a ten dollar plant. That has been the guideline of good growers since time began. We likely should change the number values but not the principles.

Marshfield, MA

Well docgipe I have always said dig a $5.00 hole for a $.50 hole so you either shop at a higher class of nursery or buy larger caliper stuff..

I do believe I have run into problems in the past by making my hole to sweet and not incorporating enough of the native soils.. I agree that experiential learning is what makes gardening gardeners.. It like the Ford/Chevy question and rarely is there an answer written in stone.

My tea is a foul almost putrifying juice but used properly has always worked well. That makes it a lot of tea in some 35 years of planting.I just have to use it wisely.

I have put almost raw chicken doo close but not to close to the base/trunks of plants and they don't mind. I just keep it far enough back so it breaks down somewhat before it gets where I want it..Tuck the same stuff right up to them and you can watch them burn.


I'm not getting any younger. I do need help. My fifty dollar hole is dug until it nearly fills a wheelbarrow. To that soil I add a gallon of finished compost a hand full of Mycorrhiza Ecto for shrubs and trees, Endo for general gardening and a pint of low number organic fertilizer. That's it! Been that way for roughly fifty years of mucking about the places we have lived. My teas come into play when the plant has taken hold and starts to show growth. The only place I would change this would be if I hit back-fill poor soil at the edge of my house where the junk was commonly tossed.

I keep an eye on the color of my soil, the feel and smell of my soil and the number of earthworms that take up residence. All of my flower beds are under permanent wood mulch....right up to the house where that applies. We put down seven cupic yards to top the beds off this year. That load was delivered for a hundred and twenty five bucks. We use no fertilizer on the mulched beds. The worms do that for us.

Spokane, WA(Zone 5a)

I have been making compost/manure tea for many years too. Year over year I consistantly have tomato plants that top out at 10 foot tall. Here is my method for those who care. Take a 33 gallon garbage can and water spigot that is like on the side of most homes with some rubber washers that fit the spigot. I drill a hole four inches or so from the bottom of the garbage can just big enough for the spigot. Attach the spigot with a nut and some rubber washers so it will not leak. I use an empty 50 pound poly-woven feed sack for the tea bag. (I use a cracked corn sack from the feed store, and or your local chicken farmer throws them away about once a week.) Fill the feed sack with as many different kinds of manure as one can find. I have access to goat, chicken, horse and stear manure. Put them all in the feed sack, place the feed sack in the garbage can and fill the garbage can two thirds full of water. Wait a couple of days and like magic you have a brown liquid (tea) flowing out of the spigot that satisfies plants of all kinds. When the tea runs out just fill up the garbage can again and again until the tea runs clear. At that point empty and refill your tea bag and repeat the process. My manure tea set of two 33 gallon cans last about 10 years between repairs....The rubber washers dry out.....Oh yeah, you should consider elevating the garbage cans, I use some cinder blocks, as to assist gravity flow and to get your watering can under the spigot. Does it smell? Well yes of course, it is manure after all, but the smell goes away after about the second filling of the garbage can.


Here in my neck of the woods we need to keep the cans covered with a lid or other way of choice. This contains a lot of the odor and more important takes away the skeeter problem that is sure to arise for us..

I pull the tea bag out of the barrel and set in a low end sump pump connected to a seventy five foot five eighth hose down in the barrel. When turned on my very scientific thumb over the other hose end dumps the barrell in fifteen minutes. The little bit left either stays there for a new brew or gets dumpped on the nearest rose garden.

I make both manure teas, worm cast teas, bat guana tea, fish oil tea, kelp tea and finished compost aerobic tea. We mix it up to get the best of both worlds. We often have two or more blended or improved with alfalfa or comfrey. A gallon of each tea goes into the house plants and or the patio plants.

I have not used man made chemicals in my soil mediums or lawns .in more than fifty years of gardening. On my plants and soil I get the usual airborn elements some of which are indeed chemicals. Our use of teas sets up and maintains a biological occupancy that to a large degree keeps most pathegons from establishing a foothold.


I sure do appreciate it when others jump in and say what they are doing. Healthy gardening or organic gardening is not rocket science. It is all about soil building. I really could care less when a writer professes the world's best medium which is almost 100 % organic and then goes on to say how good some man made non-biodegradable fertilizer grows things supporting growth. Of course this can be done but it is not going to grow healthy food or flowers. It will improve no soil or potting medium and will slowly ruin any biological content that may have been there in the first place.The fertilizer being non-biodegradable goes down stream to further poison the water all the way to a permanent dead spot in which ever ocean the drainage system leads it to. Those routes are clearly understood and known today. It is also clearly known that more water is needed and more fertilizer is needed for following crops on the same land. The more man made chemicals used and the more water used created a more poison laden flow.

Don't count on any chemical company money paying for grants that would further prove or improve this knowledge. Expect to continue seeing just the opposite. At the same time expect to see more and more growers responding to the healthy patch and organic patch produce. People are learning and many are changing. The demand is up thus the production is growing to meet that demand. The growers are always discovering greater crops per acre as their soil biology improves, their methods improve and the quality of the crop improves. The need for less water is a major cost saving factor.

No matter what anyone else says when you use manures, mulches, composts, cover crops, added trace minerals, mycorrhiza your soil and grown crops will increase in size and quality. No till is entering the picture. For the home gardener this leads to a permanent mulch system. So do what you can. Try not to argue with any donkeys. Just keep one on one helping others to understand the simplicity of soil building.

This message was edited Sep 2, 2010 6:01 PM

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