Much like herbal teas, fertilizer teas can be made by soaking or aerating dried herbs such as Comfrey, Nettle, Dandelion, Yarrow, Kelp Meal / Alfalfa Meal, bat or seabird guano, mineral salts and/ or rock powders to extract the beneficial nutrients. Brewing fertilizer teas can be a simple process to produce nutrient rich homemade fertilizers. Home brewed fertilizer teas can be combined with compost tea creating biologically active living fertilizers all for a fraction of the price of store bought nutrients. Tea For Plants, Your options are limitless.
How to Make Fertilizer Teas
- Fill your bucket or brewer with water
- Add any liquid or soluble ingredients (soluble kelp powder, humic acid, liquid fish fertilizer, etc.) directly to the water
- Place any powdered or dry ingredients (Kelp Meal, Alfalfa Meal, etc.) into a 100-micron filter bag and add to the brewer
- Stir, steep and/ or aerate your fertilizer tea for up to 24 hours
- The time your tea is allowed to steep or brew under active aeration will depend upon the ingredients used
- If you are using soluble ingredients the brew time will be very short.
- If you are using dried herbs 12 - 24 hrs is a good option.
- Active aeration is always a safe bet and helps to maintain aerobic environment
- After brewing or steeping remove the filter bag and apply tea as a soil drench
- Do not squeeze or press the filter bag as you may force sediment thru the mesh that could stop up your air-diffuser and/ or spray nozzles.
Notes on brewing fertilizer teas / garden teas:
- A PPM or TDS meter can be used to measure the concentration of nutrients in your fertilizer teas (these can be purchased for under $20 at aquarium and some garden centers)
- PPM meters measure the parts per million of a solution
- TDS meters measure the total dissolved solids
- Most plants will benefit from regular feedings of low level nutrient teas in the range of 400 – 600 ppm
- The concentration of nutrients in your liquid tea will vary based upon the ingredients used, the time they are allowed to brew/ steep and the ppm of your water source
- Well-water or rainwater may have more minerals than municipal water sources. Test your water to understand the starting level of nutrients (PPM) present in your water source. For example the filtered well water at our home averages 85 parts per million
Recommendations for Nutrient Concentration
- Young Plants / Light Feeders: 400 – 800 ppm
- Established Plants / Vegetative Growth: 800 – 1000 ppm
- Heavy Feeders / Fruiting Period: 1200 – 1500 ppm
What to do with the spent ingredients after making tea for your plants?
The spent compost, herbs, guano and/ or minerals can be added to a compost pile or worked into the top few inches of soil. Most of the nutrients from these ingredients have been depleted but the remnants will be a nice addition to compost or soil.
Clean your brewer, air diffuser, watering vessels, and/ or spray applicators immediately after each batch of tea or application
- Thoroughly clean brewer bucket, air hose, air diffuser and spray applicator after each batch of tea
- Use dish soap and a scrub brush to clean all residue known as bio-slime from all of your components before storing
- “No Rinse Cleansers”, such as One-Step, used to sanitize bottles and equipment for the home brewing of beer and wine making works well to thoroughly sanitize your equipment
- Baking soda makes an excellent abrasive cleaner
- Hydrogen Peroxide can also be used to sanitize your equipment