Thursday, January 28, 2010

Manure Tea Recipes

While you won’t find this recipe on the Food Channel, it’s been a staple of European gardeners for centuries. To brew that nutrient-rich elixir called "Manure Tea" or "Russian Tea" or "Poop Soup" relied on by millions, all you need is a non-leaky garbage can, water, a stir stick and, you guessed it, fresh manure.
Horse manure is far and away everyone’s favorite "tea bag", with fresh rabbit, goat, poultry or pig dooky running a close second, but you can settle for bagged sheep or poultry manure from a garden shop...but do take a few garbage bags to a neighborhood horse stall and treat your self to "the real thing" for best results., Fill the garbage can to within a foot from the top with water and let it sit 24 hours so the chlorine can outgas, add enough fresh horse poop to equal 1/5 the volume of the "teapot", and let it "brew" for two weeks with the lid off. I cover mine with an old window screen to be mosquitoes and flies can’t breed in there. Stir your "Poop Soup" daily with an old broom handle to mix the sunken "goodies" with the foamy top. At the end of two weeks, "it’s time for tea!"

Those manures other than horse are MUCH more potent, so I'd use one part of them to TEN parts of water for the "brewing" stage.

Just use an old mop bucket to bail out the barnyard scented elixir onto your hungriest plants like corn, roses, asparagus, raspberries, peonies, hibiscus, okra, pole beans, leafy greens, bananas, grapes, fruit trees, and Bird of Paradise. Then water it in deeply. They will lap up the combination of dissolved plant nutrients and beneficial bacteria, and you may soon be convinced you can see them growing!

For young seedlings of veggies and flowers just feed them a dilute mix of one half "poop soup" and water, then water that in too. This weakened strength insures you won’t "burn" those teensy young stems and roots. And use this dilute formula for a real pick-me-up for all your potted patio and indoor plants...don’t worry...that musty barnyard fragrance many folks actually like will pass in a few hours.

When the tea is all drawn off, just spread the dregs at the bottom around your gardens as part of your ongoing mulching/sheet composting habit. Or toss it atop your compost heap. Hey, many of us save our tea bags and coffee grounds for the garden, why not this too?!

As with all recipes there are variations, and people think of new ones all the time. "Rose freaks" like to toss in five pounds of alfalfa pellets from the feed store. Passionate veggie gardeners will add a few pounds of dried kelp meal from the feed store, but you can use sea weed and dead fish washed up on the beach. Why the sea products? They contain valuable trace minerals all plants need for optimum health. Tossing in a two cups each of Epsom salts and DynaMate and Optizyme from a feed store will add the sulfur and magnesium and potassium and beneficial microbes many soils scream out for. If soil tests show you have highly acid soil, toss in a couple cups of dolomitic limestone to "sweeten" the tea. Soil tests show your soil too alkaline? Toss in a bushel basket of FRESH green grass clippings, then brew two weeks with the garbage can lid ON....with no air available your tea will soon be being brewed by anaerobic bacteria who will produce so many natural acids that the resulting tea dissolves egg shells and chicken bones! This version smells horrid (I call it "Puke Juice" due to its effect on the human gag reflex) but is a remarkably fast, cheap and natural way to acidify alkaline soils that also supplies a whole range of dissolved nutrients. I made several batches the summer of 1988 my first year in my Denver yard to quickly lower that pH of 8.5. The smell goes away in a few hours.

Julia Child was a gardener I hear, so I bet she’d even give these recipes a try...ready, set, brew!

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