Manure Tea

What is manure tea? It is the “tea” made by steeping aged or composted manure in water. Fertile soil is important to a good garden. However, if you have poor soil, it can offer a quick source of nutrients to help get you by until you have a chance to improve your soil. I always supplement my tea applications with ever so important trace minerals to more fully meet the needs of plants and soil.


My first year asparagus is a heavy Nitrogen feeder, and does well with manure tea.

Manure is rich in nutrients, especially nitrogen. For those times when plants need more nitrogen, like the early stages of plant growth, this tea can be a real life saver. Nitrogen is good for helping plants to grow vegetation, but not for fruit setting. Once plants are ready to set fruit, you will want to back off on the nitrogen, or you may have a lot of leaves, but little fruit.

Some plants, like asparagus, are heavy feeders, and respond well to tea made from manure. I add in some sea minerals to broaden the scope of nutrients in my tea.


Manure Tea is different from Compost Tea

I pour my tea through a sieve before application

The Goal of Compost Tea
Our primary goal of brewing compost tea is to produce trillions of microorganisms, as these are so helpful to both soil and plants. A secondary goal is providing nutrients.

The Goal of Manure Tea
To dissolve the nutrients from manure into water to feed plants and soil. It’s not about microorganisms, it’s about nutrients.


Brewing Tea from Manure

Because compost tea is all about increasing aerobic bacteria, you add molasses to feed the bacteria and brew it by bubbling air through it, at a temperature best for bacterial growth.

For tea brewed from manure, no microbe food source or air bubbles are necessary. Just break up the clods, let it sit and steep, and occasionally stir, or “box” it by pouring it back and forth between 2 buckets. Warmer water helps to pull these nutrients out of the manure, so brew it in the sun.


Which Manures are the Best?

Some manures are more desirable than others, as follows:
1. Cow manure - at the top of the list!
2. Horse manure
3. Goat manure
4. Rabbit droppings
5. Chicken litter
6. Turkey litter
7. Pig manure, dog manure, cat manure


Tea from Chicken Litter

A Large Chicken House

Chicken litter tends to be “hot”, meaning that it is high in nitrogen. The nitrogen in chicken litter is highly available, making it a fast acting nitrogen. This means that more care must be taken in using it. It also means that you want to make sure it is well aged or composted before using it, or you can easily burn plants.


Tea from Rabbit Droppings

This tea is special, since it is actually possible to use it without composting it first. However, it is better to compost it before using..

Applying Manure Tea is Different
than Applying Compost Tea

I am applying my tea to the base of my tomato plants, not to the leaves.

Because of the high nitrogen content, care must be taken in applying tea made from manure. It can burn the leaves if not thinned down enough. It can also increase your nitrogen level in the soil to a point where it is counterproductive.


Avoid Dangers of Tea Brewed from Manure

If your manure has not been composted or “baked” in the sun long enough, there may be a danger of E Coli. It is best not to spray it on leaf crops like lettuce, cabbage, etc.

(Return from Manure Tea to Healthy Vegetable Gardening)

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Manure Tea

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