While there are many synthetic fertilizers on the market that will help your plants produce a robust crop or large flowers, they do nothing to help develop the long term health of the soil. One way to give your plants the nitrogen boost they need and also contribute to the health of your soil is to use a manure tea. Almost any plant in your garden, including container plantings, will benefit from a dose of organic fertilizer tea.

There are a few different ways to make this tea - a popular one uses livestock manure. It is recommended that you not use manure tea on root crops such as carrots, turnips, radishes, beets or potatoes. These crops require more potassium than they do nitrogen. While this would result in really pretty top growth, it will not do much for root growth.

How to make manure tea

There are a number of different types of manure that you can use to make manure tea. These include cow, goat, horse and poultry. It is imperative that you never use manure from carnivores such as dogs and cats as these contain pathogens that may cause sickness. If you live in an area where there are a lot of livestock, it should not be difficult for you to find some fresh manure. You can also purchase manure from your local garden shop if necessary. Two methods are commonly used to make manure tea:
Bucket Method

  1. Fill a 5-gallon bucket two-thirds of the way full with water.
  2. Add enough fresh manure to fill the bucket the rest of the way.
  3. Allow this to steep for two days. Stir twice a day.
  4. After steeping, allow the solid material to settle to the bottom of the bucket - this may take an hour or so. Do not stir.
  5. Pour the liquid into another container for use.
  6. Put the solid manure in your compost pile.

Bag Method

Fill an old feedsack or pillowcase with manure and place it in a 5-gallon bucket. Use the same proportions that are used with the bucket method - 1/3 manure to 2/3 water.
Allow the bag of manure to steep for two days.
When you are ready to use the fertilizer tea, simply lift the bag out of the manure.
Allow all of the liquid to drain off and add the manure to your compost pile.

Using the Manure Tea

It is important to dilute the manure tea before using it - otherwise it will be too strong for most plants. Use your eye as a guide to how much water to add to the tea. Generally, you want it to be the color of very weak tea. You can use this tea once a week, or as needed. Just pour around the base of each plant, directly into the soil.
Worm Castings Tea Another way to make a great fertilizer tea is to use worm castings. This is often referred to as vermicompost tea. Instead of using animal manure to make your fertilizer tea, you use worm castings, or worm poop. This tea will provide a hearty boost of nutrients and microbes for your growing plants.

  1. Cut a pair of panyhose in half. Thsi will be your makeshift tea bag.
  2. Fill the tea bag with worm castings and tie at the top.
  3. Place the bag in water - be sure it is submerged.
  4. Let it steep overnight - it should be light brown. For best results, use the fertilizer tea immediately on home and garden plants.
  5. You can put the tea in a spray bottle and spray the whole plant once a week. This tea is also safe for seedlings and young plants.
  6. Place the worm castings in your compost bin.

Start saving money today by making your own nutrient-dense fertilizer for your plants - they will reward you with vibrancy!