Afternoon tea in the Garden

Manure tea that is! Woohoo!


So, my Dad used to use manure in the garden.  But if you put too much on, dig it in close to the roots, if it’s too fresh, it burns the roots of the plant.


He also, used to make Manure Tea!  Get a stocking and put some manure (we use horse because there’s always a good organic supply of it here) and then suspend the stocking into the bucket or barrel of water!  You get liquid fertiliser.  With all the goodies of the manure.   So it’s easy to use, easy for the plants to make use of, liquid fertilisers always get quicker results imo.


You are meant to use manure that is aged 12 months.  So you’d need to have somewhere to store it.  You don’t need much though.  Depending on your size garden of course.

Here’s some manure that Harry left right in front of the gate – to save me having to go looking for it in the paddock I guess 🙂

Horse manure


Gee, thanks Harry.


Here’s my big barrel.  I’ve just put another in the back garden so I don’t have to hobble around so far with the bucket of smelly water.

And man, is it smelly!  Whooooooo!  It’s not just smelly Mum, it’s N@sty!

Blue barrel for making manure tea


After Just Your Average Kelpie and Knick Nac had a Manure Fest with the pieces of manure we put in the garden, and after Knick Nac dug up all my plants when I gave them the Very Organic Smelling liquid fertilizer from Aldi, I was a bit worried.  BUT, if appears after a sniff or two that even the kelpie’s won’t touch the stuff – WIN!


I just pour the stuff around all the plants, then water it in.  Don’t let the manure tea sit on the leaves as it might burn in the hot sun.  But also if you are eating the leaves you don’t want to be pouring it straight over the top of them, especially in things like cabbage and lettuce.  Make sure it goes around the plant and give a good water, but don’t drown them.

I also added some lucerne hay, just a handful, for extra nitrogen.  You can make Nettle Tea, using nettles you find growing around.

You can use comfrey leaves to make comfrey tea.

You can even use any weeds you have growing, to make the tea!  As long as there are no seeds on the weeds then the goodness that the plant took out of your ground is leeched into the water, and put back in. It’s great, you don’t need to add much to your land if you stop throwing out the plants that are pinching the nitrogen etc.


Don’t give your plants too much nitrogen feed so that they go lanky though.  Give them a bit to set them off and keep them going.  But when they start fruiting, or growing the actual part of the plant you want to eat – give them heaps!


Tis very smelly stuff.  You can use a stocking like my dad did.  But I just chucked the horse scones in.  Added water.  Leave for a couple of days to a couple of weeks.  When the barrel gets low, then just add more water.  I’ve used it after leaving it only overnight when I’m impatient.  Not as strong, but still useful.  If it’s strong you can water it down, but I just water it in, after I put the tea on, and that works for me.


I’ve had about 7 barrels out of one lot of horse manure and a handful of hay.  I’m going to use the next lot of tea, then put the remains of the used horse scones and the wet hay around the apple trees, then hay them thickly for water retention.


15 mins in the paddock with a shovel and the barrel will be ready to fill up again with water.  Ongoing, and so D@mn cheap!  I love it.


If you’re making Weed tea, just throw the weeds into the barrel, or a bucket with a lid, add water.  Add lid.  You can filter it out, with some shade cloth, or some netting from a screen door, or maybe a piece of muslin if you have it.  I just practise filling the bucket without catching any scones.  It’s a skill I tell you.


If you have a hessian bag you can use that.  I’ve just remembered some long thin hessian bags I have – not much good for a sack race as we found out 🙂 but they would work for this.


You put the weeds, the seaweed, the manure, the comfrey, the stinging nettles, whatever you choose, into the hession bag and tie it loosely, so they don’t escape.

Then hang the bag in the water, you could pop a small rock in the bag to keep it submerged.

With a tight fitting lid like I’ve got, I’ll have to choose the right sized rock so it’s submerged but not to the bottom.


You will need a shower and your clothes a wash when the plants have had afternoon tea though.  You probably won’t find many people offering to shake your hand if they come to visit either, not while you’re dispensing tea.


What’s manure tea got in it?  Lots.  But here’s just a small idea of some of the things.


Horse manure has nitrogen and potassium but no phosphorus.  You might want to add some seaweed meal or extract for that.


Of course, if you live near the sea, you can make your own seaweed tea which is great too.  Don’t forget that it may be illegal to just collect the seaweed.  I have heard that you need a permit to gather it, and it’s restricted, so that everyone doesn’t overharvest it.   And don’t forget to rinse the salty water out first, before you soak it.


The benefit of using the tea’s is not just as a fertiliser but also as a soil conditioner.   If the soil is healthy then it takes up the minerals and the water much better.

Comfrey contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as calcium.

Nettle tea – nitrogen, iron, phosphorus, sulphur.


All the teas are smelly, if they’re not, you’re not doing it right 🙂

2nd manure barrel


If you are using hay, or manure then you need to know that there are no chemicals in it.  If the hay has been sprayed with certain herbicides it will not grow anything legumous.  And if the manure you are using is coming from an animal who has been grazing on sprayed land or eating hay sprayed with certain products, or if they have recently been wormed, then you are adding chemicals.  You need to know where your manure is coming from!


Not only is the liquid fertiliser quickly available to the plants both through the roots, and through the leaves (for the non edible leaf plants/manure tea) but also when you think about it.  What you are growing in your soil is taking out minerals from that soil….why not put it straight back in?  In a compost, you have to wait.  Manure/weed tea is a 3 day to 2 week  job.


Things like comfrey have very deep roots and ‘mine’ the deep minerals bringing them up to the leaves.  So if you use the leaves to make liquid fertiliser, you are putting it straight back into the ground but at a higher level.


If you use unseeding weeds from your lawn or garden bed, or even the stalks of plants that you have eaten the veg from (peas, beans, outer leaves of cabbage etc) then you are replacing some of the minerals that were used to feed that plant, and putting them straight back in.


I love the fact that you take very little from the ground, that you can mainly return it in some organic form.


Making use of the soil to grow the plants, making use of the plants to feed yourself, and the soil.  Bargain!



Cuppa tea, anyone?

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