Throw a manure tea party for your plants

Manure tea has been used for centuries to fertilize gardens. In rural communities, it is an economical source of fertilizer, one that is readily absorbed by the plants.

Manure tea has been used for centuries to fertilize gardens.

In rural communities, it is an economical source of fertilizer, one that is readily absorbed by the plants.

Making manure tea is simple. It uses four common items: a large porous bag, a container, water and manure and or compost.

The most popular bag used is an old gunny sack but any large porous bag will work.

To keep the manure contained, choose one that doesn’t have large holes.

The size of container is in direct relation to the concentration of the final product.

A small container will hold a small amount of water, which in turn will produce a small amount of concentrated tea.

This tea should be diluted before it is applied to crops.

A larger container will ensure that the tea is already diluted and ready for use.

Make sure the container has a tight fitting lid which will keep the insects out and the smell in.

Rain water is best but it can be made with tap water as long as the water doesn’t have a high salt content.

Well-rotted compost or manure is very important as this is what puts the nutrients into the water.

Choose dried compost or manure from domestic livestock which includes but is not limited to horses, cattle, sheep and chickens.

Do not use manure form cats, dogs, pigs, humans or other omnivores as there is danger of spreading parasites and diseases. The larger the quantity of this material, the stronger the fertilizer it produces.

Recipes for the tea vary but the basics are as follows.

Collect dried material, place it in a bag and submerse it in water.

After a couple of days jiggle the bag up and down to aerate and stir the pot.

A concentrated tea will start to ferment while a large batch will just begin to turn colour.

Tea is often left to brew for up to a month.

It is ready to use when the colour is similar to a weak tea.

The tea can be sprayed on the plants or poured on the plants as liquid fertilizer.

When spraying manure tea, strain all the solids out of the solution before placing it in the sprayer.

Even the smallest of particles will plug the sprayer.

Add a few table spoons of liquid dish soap or liquid vegetable oil to the mixture as it will help the tea stick to the leaves of the plants.

Avoid spraying plants with downy leaves as they will be come discoloured. Manure tea is high in nitrogen.

Use the tea in the same manner as a high nitrogen fertilizer. This tea can be used on house plants but it is recommended that the tea should be diluted.

A better one for use inside the house is tea made out of tea bags, not herbal.

Take the left over tea and dilute it until it is a light brown.

Use it to water plants approximately once a month.

The amount of time a manure tea must seep depends on the recipe but most are between a few days and a month.

A tea basic recipe:

Use approximately eight pounds of dried material, compost of manure to 40 gallons of water

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached that can be reached at

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