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Time for tea

At this time of year, vegetables need plenty of nourishment and the best way to feed them is to use fertiliser ‘teas’. Liquid feeds can be bought but it’s more fun and infinitely more economical to make your own.

Equipment

A large water barrel or plastic dustbin, a fine net bag such as an onion sack and some water.

Method

  1. Fill the barrel with water.
  2. Collect your ‘tea leaves’ of choice (see following tea ‘recipes’) and place these in the sack. Tie off the top and suspend sack in the water for at least three weeks. The sacking prevents solids blocking any taps you may have fitted to the barrel and enables easy disposal of the tea leaves once fermentation has finished.
  3. Once ‘fermented’, all liquid teas should be diluted to 10 per cent before applying to plants: for every measure of tea, add nine measures of water. (If the liquid isn’t diluted, it will be too strong and may scorch plant roots and leaves.)
  4. Each time you use some tea, replenish the water in the barrel or bucket. Your teas should last at least six weeks this way.

NOTE: Some tea can get a bit smelly so set up your ‘tea urn’ in a suitable place.

The following teas can be applied as a root feed (simply water into the ground) or as a foliar feed (spraying tea on the plant leaves). Apply liquid feed once a week in the evenings to avoid evaporation during the heat of the day.

  • Manure: Either horse, sheep, cow, or chicken manure. High in nitrogen and good for green growth.
  • Worm wee: From the liquid tray at the bottom of a worm farm. Excellent general fertiliser.
  • Comfrey: Leaves are high in trace elements, potassium and vitamins. Good for fruit and flower production.
  • Seaweed: Brown seaweeds preferred. Rinse seaweed first to remove salt. High in trace elements, vitamins and nutrients.
  • Nettle: Contains minerals, trace elements and vitamins. Good for root crops, legumes and tomatoes.
  • Chamomile: A natural anti-fungicide good for fruiting and flowering.
  • Fish: Use fish heads and fish frames – high in phosphorus and nitrogen but very smelly.
First published: Feb 2011



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