Our garden is starting to look healthy and lush thanks to all this lovely warm weather and is something I am once again proud of! (It really was a sad state of affairs over winter, understandably). I've found from personal experience, that a lot of people seem to get put off growing their own vegetables after the initial successful season, when the soil is still full of nutrients and goodness. It is after this time that you really need to start to give back to the soil, by means of a good compost or liquid fertiliser, to have continued success and to keep you motivated.
The easiest and most readily available thing to use to make liquid garden fertiliser is good ol' lawn clippings. Simply gather a couple of large handfuls up after mowing the lawn, pop it into a bucket or large tin, top-up with water, cover and leave for around 2-3 weeks. Stir with a wooden stick whenever you remember, strain and use as needed.
Another great garden "tea" fertiliser I like to make, uses a selection of nutrient rich plants. Sometimes I make it using stinging nettle (which is rich in iron and also much loved by tomato plants), dandelion (which has a beneficial influence on plant growth), and seaweed (unwashed, picked up from the beach after a storm).
This year I have just made a quick batch using stinging nettle and comfrey (rich in Nitrogen, Potash and Phosphorus) collected from Ada's kindy (pre-school). The past house owner was our local herbalist so there are all sorts of amazing herbs in and around the kindy! I have a feeling that puha and watercress would also make a lovely addition to your "tea" if you have access to it.
To make the stinging nettle and comfrey "tea", simply gather as much fresh nettle and comfry as you can, wearing gloves and using garden clippers to cut it off at the base. Pack as much as you can into a large plastic lidded bucket. An old nappy soaking bucket is perfect 😉 Cover with water, pop on the lid and leave to ferment for 3-5 weeks. Stir once every week, or when you remember to. Warning!!!! Be prepared to almost pass out from the smell when the lid is lifted! The comfrey produces the most hideous smell imaginable! Cover your nose and strain a little out as you need it, pour around plants (especially tomatoes) and water in well.
A few other natural liquid "tea" fertiliser ideas are:
Sage tea-made by simply soaking fresh sage leaves in water for a few weeks. It is a great growth stimulant for established plants and especially good for strawberry plants.
Manure tea-soak a small mesh bag of manure in a bucket of water. 1 part manure to 3 parts water. Leave 24 hours, strain and dilute to the colour of weak tea before watering onto young seedlings or around larger plants.
Fish fertiliser-soak fish scraps (heads and bones) in water for 2-3 weeks before using as a quick acting fertiliser.
Always water in liquid fertilisers well so you don't run the risk of burning the plant. I prefer to just water them in around the base of the plant as opposed to actually watering all over the leaves.
Happy gardening 🙂
For my post on making homemade garden compost click here.