For hundreds of years people have grown food and never used manufactured fertilizers to enhance crop yields. They used what was commonly available to them: weeds. Using weeds as fertilizer is simply a back-to-basics approach to returning valuable nutrients into the soil.
Soil isn’t just dirt; it is a life force full of healthy bacteria, fungi, nematodes, anthropods, minerals and earthworms that are critical to the eco-system, and to our survival on this planet. In fact at least a quarter of the world’s biodiversity lives underground. Without healthy soil we have a serious problem; in fact it already is a global problem.
To help raise awareness about this, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils. Healthy soils are the foundation for not just food but also for fibre and medicines.
Making Nutrient-Rich Fertilizers
If you are one of those people who curse at the unwanted plants (weeds) growing in your garden, don’t get frustrated; turn those nuisances into an incredible nutrient-dense fertilizer. You can take those valuable plants and turn them into a nourishing weed tea for your soil.
When you whip up a brew of weed tea for your garden, you’ll be infusing a natural source of nutrients into the soil. Some of those nutrients include phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, calcium, boron, copper, manganese, sulfur, iron and silicon. Once made, you can safely use weed tea in your flower and vegetable gardens either as a spray or by putting some at the base of your plants.
Weeds, especially those with long taproots (such as dandelions) have collected valuable nutrients from the soil and they store the nutrients in the roots and leaves. Whenever you remove weeds from your garden and toss them away, you’re tossing away valuable nutrients. You can use all weeds in making weed tea except poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac and poison hemlock.
How to Make Weed Tea
The process to making weed tea is simple, but please remember this tea is strictly for your garden – this ‘tea’ is not for human or animal consumption.
First, get a large non-metallic bucket or other container with a lid. Place the gathered weeds (leaves, roots and flowers) in the bucket. (Do not collect weeds that have gone to seed.)
Add water until all plant matter is covered and there is at least a half inch of water over the weeds; then cover the bucket with a tight fitting lid.
Let the bucket sit for about three to four weeks. Stir it every five or six days, but beware: It will not smell pleasant. The fermentation process is wicked on the nasal passages, but do remember that this will become the ultimate fertilizer. Do not get any of this mixture on your clothing because it will stain. Use gloves to protect your hands from staining as well.
After four weeks, strain the remaining plant matter out of the liquid using cheesecloth or panty hose. The liquid is what you need to save.
What you have now is concentrated. Before using this on your garden, dilute it at a rate of 2 parts weed tea to 10 parts water. Never spray this directly onto vegetables that are ready to be harvested.
Use Weed Tea Quickly: It Does a Garden Good
Be sure to use your weed tea within the same growing season you made it, and the faster you use it, the better for your garden.