Help with 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

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Sorry nobody's helped you on this yet--I don't have too much advice except that I thought you generally used aged manure to make tea? I wonder if tea made with fresh manure might have too much nitrogen in it and could burn your plants if you don't dilute it a lot.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

i'm really interested in this topic, too. i've been contemplating making manure tea and applying it on my pasture as an alternative to purchased fertilizer. i do hope that someone out there has attempted this with some measure of success. i'll let you know if i come up with something that works. in the meantime, i'll be watching this thread....

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I don't use manure. I found grass clipping will up my tomatoe yeald by 30 % compost works well to add nutriant. I find reading mother earth news has help me with soil admendments

Thumbnail by jerryhildebrand
Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

I found grass clipping will up my tomatoe yeald by 30 %

Please tell us details of how you use the grass clippings.


Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I simply use them as mulch, the grass helps keep the weeds down and the nutrients leach out into the soil.

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

I did take a few minutes to find the artical on tomatoes and grass clipping it came from mother earth news artical from feb/march 08 . the north dakota university study found tomatoes mulched with grass clippings produce 30% more fruit. the university of california riverside suggest grass clipping release there nitrogen faster than compost

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

I mulch my entire garden with grass clippings. I grow for the farmer's market, so have a huge garden. We bag all of our grass clippings.
When I spread the grass clippings, I add alfalfa pellets and dry molasses then turn on the irrigation system to water it all in. We fill the areas between the raised planting beds with grass clippings also. This turns into wonderful compost in about 6-8 months.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm assuming it is some other type grass clippings other than bermuda grass???

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

I use bermuda grass and Floratam grass clippings. The only time I had trouble with the bermuda grass was fresh mowed from the golf course house, it was windy when I was spreading the clippings and rained immediately after. They sprouted everywhere!

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

re: sprouting bermuda grass - That's the reason I was asking. We use the clippings from bermuda grass to stop soil erosion on the side of an embankment on one side of our property. Spread them out freshly cut and witnin a week they have sprouted and started to grow into the soil. Great for our purpose but would be a nightmare in a garden. LOL.

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

I agree, it was a nightmare to pull out the sprouts that got away from me! We put the clippings about a foot deep in the isles between the beds and that helps.
Here is a photo so you can see a little of what I mean. This was taken in April. I am in the process of replanting and need to take some new photos.

Thumbnail by Calalily
Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Calalily, beautiful garden. I'm envious. Vegetable garden on our place has to be in raised beds because with the dense red clay soil we have, things just drown if planted in the ground. No amount of amendments change it. I grew up on a vegetable farm in New Mexico with wonderful soil and dealing with this awful clay has been quite a learning experience.

I think some types of bermuda grass are worse than others. What we have is the native stuff that just comes out of the air, I think. Never planted any of it ever. We "invested" a few years ago in some of that World Feeder hybrid BG for our pasture, supposed to spread and grow anytime anywhere, but unless it is continuously fertilized, it doesn't compare to invasiveness of the native BG. LOL.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

My grandfather used to grow prize roses and he used fresh horse manure "tea" - I used to watch him - I was about three years old at the time, so my memory is a bit fuzzy - but I remember him putting the manure in a burlap sack, dipping it up and down several times in a bucket of water. He would then dilute the "tea" with more water and put it around his roses.

Horse manure was so much easier to get back in those days - you just waited for a horse to come down the road and ran after it with your bucket and shovel LOL

I also remember that if a pigeon landed in the back yard, my grandmother would try to catch it for dinner!

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

Honeybee, What wonderful memories - and what a visual of a burlap sack used as a giant tea bag! We have an old burn barrel on wheels that came with our property when we bought it a few years ago (parked next to a fully functioning outhouse, LOL). I wonder if i could fix up the bottom of the barrel, get some burlap sacks and brew some manure tea in it, and then tow it around our pasture merrily dripping delicious manure tea? I wonder if burn barrel rust or residue would be a concern....

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

SnowlineRose - I'm wondering how deep your barrel is. If it's too deep you might have a problem getting to the bottom of it (I have visons of spilled manure over yourself - yuck!)

I don't know what my grandfather did with the spent horse manure - I remember grandmother yelling at him to get that stuff (only she wasn't that polite) out of her kitchen!

You might have a problem getting the manure solids out of the bottom of your barrel.

I haven't thought about my grandparents for a long time - you are right - it was nice to have those memories come back to me :) I also remember those rose bushes were taller than I was, and they smelled like heaven.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

I make manure tea/leach in five gallon buckets as well as 55 gallon barrels. Feed bags work great for the the barrels, for the five gallon buckets I just put a shovelful in w/out a bag. You can use it right away or let it steep several days if you like, keeping in mind the stronger it is the more you can dilute it for extra coverage in the gardens.

Snowline Rose, if that burn barrel is of good size you could rig up a hose bibb to the bottom and hook up a water hose to it and let it gravity feed to your plants. Lowe's and Home Depot sell fairly inexpensive sump pumps that will allow you to screw on a water hose to them, drop them in your barrel, then plug it into a standard wall outlet. They work great for this kind of stuff!


Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

Ooo - good ideas about the hose bibb and sump pump, Shoe. i'll have to check into that. Thanks!

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Haven't tried it yet but have been thinking about putting some St. Augustine grass clippings in an old blender I use for garden stuff and making a "tea" with rainwater. Maybe add a little molasses. Liquify and then dilute with more water and use as drench.

Wonder if that would make a good nitrogen transfusion for plants??

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

Another great idea - thanks D_N_P. I'll park my "inherited" burn barrel under the end of the gutter and utilize rainwater runoff for brewing the manure tea. This is getting better and better! :)

South Boardman, MI

I'm by no means an organic gardener, but several years ago my neighbor told me how to make to tea (poop soup) is what he called it. I only let it seep for about a week and began to use it. It seems to work well . I kept adding more water throughout the summer and used regularly. Of course it was weak in the end. However--word of advice. Don't dump the remains of the manure on your garden. Whatever the animal eats (seeds) you will grow.

Tucson, AZ

I've always just diluted any type of "tea" I made (manure, compost, worm casting) until it looks like a very weak iced tea. That should be fine. Dump the manure into your compost pile when you're finished.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

How do I know if the manure is "AGED" or not? And, how long should it be aged?

I have a friend with a horse, so all I have to do is go get it. I'm a first-timer, and would like to use this on my tomato plants.

Thanks, in advance!


Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

There may be other ways too, but one good test is the smell--if it still stinks then it's not aged yet.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Ecrane, The old "stinky-poo-no-good" test! Thanks!

Tucson, AZ

...and it'll be pretty dry and crumbly.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Mom!

Novato, CA

I had a bag of horse poop that I found open in the bottom of my wheel barrel which must have been there for several months if not longer. I had some trouble getting to the garden for several months in the winter.. (cold, rainy and a new grand baby).. when I found it under several bags of soil it was full of worms. I added it to my recycling pile and worked it in. I thought this would be good for the compost. Do you think this was okay. I would not think this was anaerobic because the worms were very active. So do you think this was a good thing to do and could I just use this for compost tea after a few weeks or can the compost be put directly around the plants? I have veggies and lot's of roses. If I pour the tea on it can taking several days because of all the rose plants. Also with the teas, manure, fish /kelp.. can these just be put on the plant also or should it just be around the roses but not on the leaves? thanks for any help with this. Lela


Here are a couple of tid bits I believe apply to pretty much all these posts.

First the biggie. Finished compost contains no NPK. Compost is mixed greens, browns and some form of manure, a sampling of your native soil and turned or left in pile until it converts to a totally biological content called humus. Following this conversion it is all critters and fungi that will work in your soil to make food for the plants. You may add trace minerals, organic meals or liquids anytime the pile is still working.

If you are getting any NPK your pile is simply not done working into its best finished condition. The highest value is only realized when the pile is finished and converted into humus.

On manure tea. I never used more than two shovels full of manure in a fifty five gallon barrel. Use a half shovel full of your native soil. After about a week it is pretty good manure tea. Dilute it with water so that when held up to the sun in a clear glass container it looks like tea you might drink. This is the tea that still contains the nitrogen you speak of. Diluted to real tea color it should not burn any plants. Feed weekly weakly is a good program.

The sump pump suggestion is really good. That is what I have always used with my scientific thumb over the other end. Before starting I use a couple of bricks in the bottom of the barrel. The residual left when the barrel is empty goes back into our compost piles.....or to the nearest flower bed when we are cleaning up.

There are all kinds of teas. A decent fish kelp tea can be made with two tablespoons full of commercial liquid fertilizer in a gallon of water. Use the same tea held up to the sun test.

Compost tea is good for your plants too. It simply does not if it is finished have any nitrogen. The living biology will create the food your plants are looking for but it will take some time to be natural food for your plants.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Docgipe!

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Doc, hate to disagree with you on the NPK of compost but I sent some finished (2 years old, pile was turned once per month (with a bobcat) in the beginning, less as time went by, composted in huge piles (75L x 20W x 10H)) to a soil test lab. Minimal NPK, but still had a value of something like 2-1-4 with a neutral pH. Compost was made of grass clippings, old hay and wood shavings, leaves and vegetable waste. Phosphates were too high, not sure why as no manure was added.


Tis no disagreement at all. Your pile goes back to the very early days of composting in size and nature. Way back in the very early days those huge piles were thought to be the best. Those huge piles seldom got hot enough to make finished compost therefore they indeed would be unfinished and contain some NPK.

Most pile suggested size today is four feet by four feet by four feet tall. This size pile can ingest enough oxygen to get the temperature cooking hot enough to compete the job. If the mix is balanced and contains some manure it will work. Temperatures above a hundred and twenty degrees is common. Turning approximately weekly is also a basic need for those higher temperatures that will kill most weed seed and many pathogens. When a pile is smaller the gardener is more likely to work the pile weekly. Commercial operations would indeed have difficulty tending great bunches of small piles therefore the huge piles put together with machinery is again becoming popular.

So what's the difference? Literally none except the unfinished material will have to be converted in or on your soil. This takes longer but it all does the same thing given time the unfinished will become humus. This type of reasoning is going on 24hs/365 where the soil is in contact with permanent mulch. The best working zone may only be half an inch deep with something going on all the time in all of the mulch. The worms come up eat and carry the zone compost deeply into the soil leaving casts which are even better than the compost they ate.

I had the exact same test you got on a load of compost that was not quite finished where the manure was goat. That farmer's piles were similar to yours. It worked fine but cost me some valuable growing speed early in my giant pumpkin growing season because they and the mycorrhiza could not get the food they needed. It was late in being ready. The process had to wait. This error on my part cost me about six weeks and translated to about three hundred pounds of pumpkin I was unable to grow that season. My second error was that I thought it was finished compost and put it into the soil two weeks later than I should have. This shape is called a bean bag or wagon wheel.

We grew a seven hundred and ten pound pumpkin in spite of my errors. I likely would have gone over a thousand pounds if it had been fully finished compost ready to go to work upon application.

Today the record to beat is seventeen hundred and twenty five pounds. Now that is a pumpkin grown in Ohio by a young lady who had grown several years to learn how. Guess she did pretty well. LOL

Thumbnail by docgipe
Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

The piles were hot enough to burn your hands, they were steaming. According to most research I've read, all compost contains NPK, it's the nature of decomposition, microbes turn raw materials into readily available N and some is not readily available. Nitrogen loss can result from a low carbon to nitrogen ratio at the beginning or from loss in the form of ammonia gasses and from leaching by heavy rainfall. Potassium can also be lost from leaching.

Here is copied from University of Mass compost information:

Finished compost is a dilute fertilizer, having an analysis of about 1-1-1 (N-P
2O5-K2O), but varying according to the original materials that were incorporated into the pile and how they were composted.


I'm seventy five. Any of the people I listened to would disagree but to me the difference is mute between what you have said and what I have said. What your reference has said is based on the fact that the tested material is close but not quite compost. The position I have lived with for a long time is that the finished compost is still converting to food for the mycorrhiza and plant roots from the elements of humus. This continued conversion is carried out in a biological zone created by the plant in close placement around or to the roots. This zone of biological activity is seldom spoken of even to this day. It is known that the plant roots create the specialized zone. I have called the plant's finishing zone a biological finishing factory. It was identified and spoken of before our turn of the century or the late 1800's. The plant leaf absorbs certain biology and some trace elements that then take about an hour to reach the zone. Even this must be finished. Much of this whole process is not fully understood or even found in modern text books. The reason for this is simple enough. The money flow to the university research is from the chemical companies. No company would pay for information that would further prove differing theory or facts.

No study that I am aware of has even touched the possibility that the plant may be doing elementary conversion of the biology or chemicals taken in primarily by the leaf as that material moves to the specialized root zone. We have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that this movement takes place and that it takes about an hour for it to move from the leaf to the root. We have proven the existence of the specialized finishing root zones.

Your compost is sure going to improve any soil dramatically. The use of the term compost continues to be changed. We seem to have dramatically slipped away from a technical fact or studies that help all of us understand a little better what we think we know. Dr. Ingram ( possible sp error) bemoans this fact from time to time. She is much more employed by Austrailian agriculture departments than our own. The Aussies are light years ahead of us with their organic understanding and organic growing.

I am about at the end of my understanding as of this hour. I would like to point out that leaves when tested just short of full conversion will test very close to that 1-1-1 you reported. As far as I know that does not even have to be mixed leaves with a few exceptions. Leaves in this state are still called leaf mold not compost. Everything rotting evenually reaches a PH of 7 therefore any reasonable amount of leaf mold, compost or any other rotting material including protein will not greatly adjust your soil out of a condition simply called better.

What really trips my trigger is when a grower makes a final decision to intellegently move away from man made chemicals and within a relativly few years discovers better quality and more food being produced in soil that was a few short years ago very sick soil.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Just getting caught up with my DG reading. I went on vacation and then took a bit of a break as, well, "my brain hurt" =D!

Thanks for posting about the grass clippings! DH is a fanatic about raking up the grass clipping and as I mow almost two acres worth of lawn almost weekly, boy do I have grass clippings! I save them up for more lasagna beds, but can't keep up with that rakin' fool LOL! Now I have another place to put them...

Calalily, your garden looks so good--as always. That lettuce on the side looks reallllly good. I'll be planting more lettuce myself this weekend. Can't wait. I've had enough of sitting in this office all week!

Oh, COOL! A pumpkin photo! I just really love the giant pumpkin photos. I wish my local newspaper ran a vegetable of the week column like my old newpaper back up north did. I always looked forward to that.

jburleigh13, you should be able to dump all of that in the compost pile and be fine. But I would maybe weaken the "tea" a bit with an extra bucket of water and then use it (strain out the solids). I hate to see good poo go to waste! Haha, I think that was a pun! I do use manure tea and sometimes I forget a brew. I usually just pick up where I left off but dilute it a bit if it looks too strong. Unless grasshoppers really like to eat plants steeped with manure tea then I don't think I've done anything to really kill off any plants by doing this.

San Antonio, United States

How to make compost or worm tea:

Get a 5 gallon bucket and fill it about 2/3 with water. If you use tap water, you have to aeriate it using a small aquarium pump, which will get rid of the chlorine and other chemicals in the water. Rain water works best, but if you can't then aeriate it for a couple of hours.

Get an old pair of pantyhose and put a couple handfuls of compost or worm castings inside and tie it up. Picture it as a large tea bag.

Place the pantyhose in the bucket and get your small aquarium pump. The pump will give lots of movement which provides oxygen for all the little microbes and good bacteria that you want for your plants.

Add a couple tablespoons of molasses and add it to the water. This will feed all the little microbes and good bacteria.

Aeriate the water outside for 2-3 days. Your compost tea is now ready to apply to your plants. Spray it liberally on the leaves and water your plants as usual. Worm tea is even more effective than compost tea and will not burn out your plants. Using compost tea in this way is also safe. You should use the tea within a day or so for maximum effect. The tea is alive and without oxygen all the little critters will die off.

Hope this helps! Compost/worm tea is absolutely amazing stuff and you will not need to use traditional fertalizer if used frequently. It also has the added benefit of pest control especially aphids.


Thanks......the above is a reasonably good introduction to the creation of aerobic tea. If using chlorine treated water better figure on twenty four hours for it to evaporate out of the water. This of course varies depending on the amount and type of chlorine used in treatment.

When adding the bubbler have the air on to prevent the fouling of the internal parts of your air system. This is also important when removing the bubbler system. If you do not the tea will take its own level fouling the bubbler device and air delivery system the height of the water in the bucket.

Adding a fish tank heater to this system set at seventy six degrees will greatly help the process. When using fish tank aeration stones figure to aerate up to four days at seventy six degrees. The best way to determine maximum effect is to see a tan foam well established floating on the top. The aerated tea should be lacking completely in the smell of acids or manures. It should smell like good rich earth.
This can be tested but is very expensive to so.

The biology created by aeration at seventy six degrees will devalue or degrade about ten percent in the first three hours. Immediate use is the best planning for the highest quality you can produce. Your tea will turn back to anaerobic within twelve hours without continued air and possibly food. It gets a little tricky within a half day so plan to make and use it as soon as possible.To be real safe if you exceed twelve hours dump that batch back to your compost and clean up with strong chlorine water, rinse and start over. All the trouble you might hear about comes from anaerobic situations.

None of this is meant to be anything other than supportive to the above fine introduction. There is only one incorrect statement and that is in the first paragraph. The making of aerobic tea or pre-batch aeration will remove chlorine by evaporation. All other chemicals of concern like fed through medicines will most likely stay in your tea no matter how you make it. This is being kicked around. I have one unanswered question that is: How much could there be in two or three hands full of compost? The pure organic mind goes after any. I guess I can not challenge that but for my opinion only I think the tiny bit of poison would be all but unmeasurable in garden condition consideration coming from aerobic teas.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.