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Homemade liquid fertilizer

Posted by plant-one-on-me MI 5b (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 27, 09 at 16:31

I have been learning a lot reading the different posts and am pretty new to the different types of organic fertilizers. I tried to read a lot and do a search so please forgive me if this has been asked before...

I purchased an organic seed starting mix and have a few seedlings up. The package stated to start feeding with a liquid fertilizer once the first true leaves develop. I have not been able to find an organic liquid fertilizer just things like Miracle Gro.

All the packages of fish emulsion I read stated they may contain high levels of heavy metals so would prefer not to use those.

I also am in a very precarious financial situation and cannot spend a lot of money right now...anyway here is my question....

Can I make a liquid fertilizer from things commonly found around my house? I have started chopping finely the different food items that normally go into the composter and boiling them until very soft, then making a puree, and then straining to use to water plants.

Is there something else I can add to make it better? I have read often that urine is good for the composter and since urine is essentially sterile should some be added to the mix?

A lot of times when I thaw beef (I purchased 1/2 an organic raised cow last year) there is blood. Can I add this to the mix? I was thinking to destroy any pathogens I could simply boil it as well.

I am taking egg shells and pulverizing them in the blender and dissolving in a little vinegar also. I figured to correct the pH I could use a little baking soda if needed.

I liked the discussion on making your own bone meal but it is not feasible for me right now. In the summer I may be able to burn some down and add to the compost.

I started a worm bin but could only afford 1/2 pound of worms so this will not give me anything useable for a very long time.

Should I dilute it or not use it every time I water?

I also have some organic tomato tome left from last year....can this be dissolved in water and made useable? If so how much further does it need to be diluted so as not to burn my little seedlings?

Any recommendations and/or links to look at?

Thanks I know there are a lot of questions but any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Kim


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Manure tea is a great liquid fertilizer and it's very cheap or free to make. Take a cup of fresh or composted manure and tie it up with cheesecloth, and let it soak in a gallon of water for a few days. Remove the bag and feed your plants. You can also use rich compost, but the nutrient level will be somewhat less.

Ron
"The Garden Guy"
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
Brand New Article & Garden Journal Entry 2/27


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

organicguy. There is a HUGE difference between 'manure' and 'composted manure.' I'm not one to nit pick small stuff but I'm also not afraid to jump in and flail away when huge mistakes are made.

I'm going to skip over the historical definition of manure and use the one in common use today. Manure is fresh animal dung. Composted manure is compost. It is unfortunate there is no marketing definition for the two terms and they are quite often used together.

People talk about manure tea and they talk about compost tea as if they are the same thing. They are not. Compost tea is made from excellent finished compost that has no pathogens in it. Manure tea IS FULL OF PATHOGENS. It is a breeding ground for disease.

Aerated compost tea is made with a steady stream of bubbles or continuous agitation for NO LONGER THAN 24 HOURS. At the end of 24 hours all the benefit has been wrung out of the compost and the tea, even though it is aerated, begins to deteriorate. If the tea brewed for a couple days you would have brown water with some value but nothing like it had at the end of the first 24 hours. Manure tea would start out being nasty and end up being possibly less nasty but still full of disease pathogens.

Okay, what was the question again? Oh yeah, home made liquid fertilizer. Personally I would ignore the instructions and use corn meal, coffee grounds, or alfalfa pellets to fertilize. If you absolutely have to have liquid, anything with protein in it is excellent. Milk and liquid seaweed are both good. Blood is good in small doses or diluted. Compost tea is not a particularly good food because it has little protein in it. It is good for other things, so I'm not going to say don't use it. If you do use it, please read up on it before you do. Organicguy would have been okay saying to take finished compost (the stuff that smells great) and plunging it in and out of the water several times and using the water immediately. That is not considered tea but it has some of the benefits of tea and none of the problems of manure...or mistakes that can be made with tea, for that matter.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

At a ratio of 1 cup of manure to a gallon of water, the pathogen content would be next to nothing. Using this on young seedlings, MONTHS away from harvest poses zero threat. And . . . composted manure, especially if the pile does not heat up hot enough for long enough still contains some pathogens.

Since when is making tea with finished compost not considered "tea"? It has been for the last 40 years that I have been using it!


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Since the late 1990s. Dr Elaine Ingham has redefined the terms. Soaking compost in water for just a few seconds is considered "compost leachate" in the modern dictionary. It does not have the benefit of breeding lots more microbes in a broth of air and microbe food (seaweed and molasses, for example).

The problem with brewing too long is the bucket fills up with microbes that use up all the oxygen in the water as fast as it is pumped in. The bucket can't support any more life so the microbes start to die. The oxygen level drops and more microbes die. Then the clean-up microbes come in to eat the dead microbes. There is nothing magic about 24 hours of aeration but it seems to work okay for tea brewed under 70 degrees F. Tea brewed above 70 degrees maybe should be brewed for a shorter period. After 80 degrees you probably should just do a quick dunk of the compost and spray immediately. At 80 degrees water hardly holds any oxygen. That's why you only see the green gunk around the edges of ponds in the summertime. That gunk grows where there is no air in the water.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Then I guess we have been doing it all wrong for over 40 years, and someone forgot to tell the great healthy plants it produces. And I guess no one told all those organic gardeners and farmers that have been doing it that way for a lot more years than that.
When you have to turn gardening into a chemistry lesson, it kind of defeats the purpose. If that's how you want to do your gardening, go for it. I have been gardening,and farming organically, again for over 40 years, I wrote countless articles on organic gardening and farming for national magazines, operated a sefl-sufficient farm/homestead for over a decade, so I think I will continue to do what has always worked, while the experts play with there test tubes. I guess thay call that being "politically correct" now a days!


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Many people have been doing it wrong for many years, and continue to do it wrong. As time passes we should be learning from what we are doing, we should not keep on doing something simply because "we have always done it that way". Gardening is science, science means knowledge, science is knowledge. Learning something new is not being "politically correct", but is using what we know today to improve how things are done.
My grandfather always hooked up his horse to a plow, but as time has passed we have learned how to keep the garden soil from getting into a condition that requires tilling so we need not keep a horse (although that may not be a really good thing).
All seed starting mixes you could possibly purchase would be "organic" so I'm not sure what you may have gotten, although the statement on the package indicates probably that came from one of the major suppliers of synthetic fertilizers. Fish fertilizer or liquid seaweed would be on type of liquid fertilzier that could be used, adn as Dave has stated you do not want to make manure tea from fresh manure and making it from manure that has been aged the 12 months now recommended by knowledgeable people there will not be much nutrition to get from that manure. You could make a tea from compost that would be okay, which means that you need to use some chemistry.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Well Kimmsr,
If I have been doing it wrong, according to you, for all of these years and gotten the amazing results that I have, then I will forget the chemistry lesson, and keep doing what experience proves does work.
It was the wonders of modern science and chemistry that brought gardening and farming from a purly organic practice, to a mere shadow of it's former self, with the advent and use of petroleum and chemical based fertilizers, pesticides and herbicided. Science and farming have always made strange bedfellows, but you and a few other seem to have no reservations about jumping right into that bed.
In nature, a bear or a deer takes a dump in the woods. It rains and you get manure tea, and everything within a few feet EVERYTHING thrives. Animals come along and eat the vegatation, and, OMG, no one dies!
I guess someone forgot to tell the bear he had to age it a year and aerate it.
When I see some of the advice offered and the positions taken, I have to wonder if any of those have ever had any practical organic farming and/or gardening experience, or if their opinions come from text books. Go tell these things to a farmer pulling a "honey wagon" over his fields, and he just may reach for his shotgun.

Ron
"The Garden Guy"
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
Brand New Article & Garden Journal Entry 2/27


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

I make my liquid additions different than most I have read about too. My plants, or rather , my soil thrives, and the plants are taken care of and flourish. Everyone has different ideas about what is right or correct, and since some of those folks have degrees, everyone is expected to believe them and jump on their wagon. Most of us don't grow our plants and gardens for any other reason than we enjoy it, we enjoy our harvests, it's a hobby or way of life that we chose. I for one, choose to organically grow container plants, and constantly am told that I will fail, organics don't work in containers, blah, blah, blah. I would put my plants and florals up against anyones. Period. But if yours are better, great!! It's about what I enjoy, and MY learning curve. I for one, don't follow anyone who claims to "redefine" what compost tea or any other food for the soil is called. That's like two speak, and I don't care for it. I follow basic rules, if it could cause harm, don't use or eat it. If it needs to be composted to use it correctly, compost it. Sure, I agree with alot of what I read from everyone here on the site, but I really want to learn it myself, and have some failures along the way.

Don't put your hand on a hot stove, you will get burned. HAH

TiMo


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Now that's good ole, down home sound thinking TiMo! I'm betting that some of the folks with the "degrees" have never shoveled a manure pile or been on a farm. By the way, anyone who tells you you can't grow organically in containers doesn't have a clue!

Ron
"The Garden Guy"
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
Brand New Article & Garden Journal Entry 2/27


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Man you two would have so much fun in the container gardening forum


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Been there, done that and while Al's mix has a place, it's not my cup of tea. I enjoy enriching my gardens with recycled mix at the end of each growing season. I also like to prove people wrong. My mom and dad say it's because I am hardheaded and stubborn, but I just enjoy gardening and using organics. I have used organics to "push" plants to places they are not supposed to go, early production, increased production etc., and the seeds from the plants I produce respond even better each year to what I do. I know it's kind of setting the plants up for failure if they were grown in a different environment, but I just grow them for myself and family. Good Luck TiMo


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Well I'm glad there's finally at least one or two people here who agree with me.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

I think what confuses most people on this subject, is the fact that it really depends what you are growing, how you are growing it, and therefor, whether you are feeding the soil or the plant. Most of us who are in the know, are actually looking at feeding the soil and improving our microlife colonies, which in turn takes care of the plants.

TiMo


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Kim,

Grind up the egg shells and put them in the soil. Wash the beef blood down the drain. I think you would want to add your vegi scraps to the compost pile so they can break down.

I made a batch of horse/bat manure tea last week for the house plants, two coffee cans of poo in stockings in 10 gallons of water with an air bubbler for 24 hours. my plants love it. This may not be the right mix and could probably add other stuff to make it better but this works great IMO. Making a liquid fert isn't tough


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Organicguy, I am not one to argue with success, but at the same time there are people in China today who are dying from a disease because they did not take adequate care. Science has narrowed down the source of some common farm diseases and it is the manure. People have been farming with manure since farming began, and we still have a growing population, so it can't be all that bad. But if we want to protect everyone including you, there are other ways to get the same results.

In nature when a bear or deer takes a dump in the woods, there are critters in the soil that come along behind (literally) and clean up the mess. In pastures they are dung beetles but in the woods there are other critters besides beetles. Even pill bugs (wood lice) process animal dung and turn it back into soil post haste. Modern cattle operations don't have dung beetles because they feed deworming meds to the animals whether they need it or not. The dewormers kill dung beetles and break the chain of dung recycling. I have a lot more to say on that subject but this is not that subject.

So all I'm saying is that compost tea is made from compost. Manure tea is made from manure. Compost may be made from manure, but that's really neither here nor there. Both may work in the garden but one is safer to make and use than the other.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Hi dchall_san_antonio,
I hear you and I think you just proven my point. I did a study on agriculture in China some time ago. Apparently they use human waste as part of their manure, and they apply it on the surface and/or in rice paddys. Of course that is asking for disease.
Compareing this to what I am suggesting for a small scale garden or with seedlings, is comparing apples and oranges.
What I advocate is turning it into the soil, and allowing 90 to 120 days before harvest, which is more that enough time for the microorganism to do the their magic.
Using fresh manure in tea, and at a very deluted ratio, contains a very low amount of patogens, and if used on seedlings, which is what this was all about, allows months before harvest and human consumation. This poses zero danger and is an acceptible practice for organic gardeners.

Ron
"The Garden Guy"
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
Brand New Article & Garden Journal Entry 2/27


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Using fresh manure in tea, and at a very deluted ratio, contains a very low amount of patogens, and if used on seedlings, which is what this was all about, allows months before harvest and human consumation. This poses zero danger and is an acceptible practice for organic gardeners.

That's what I completely disagree with, but I've already said that.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

OK dchall_san_antonio!
Let's agree to disagree and be friends! Have a great season!

Ron
"The Garden Guy"
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
Brand New Article & Garden Journal Entry 2/27


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Sounds good to me.

Don't get sick on us ;-) We need you here spreading the good word.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

plant: aerated compost tea and stinging nettle tea are good freebies. For the aerated tea you will need to invest in a 7-gallon plastic pail and a cheap aquarium pump from Meijer's. For nettles, just soak them in water till they smell like a barnyard. Regards, Peter.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Thanks dchall_san_antonio
If I, my family, friends and countless other gardeners and farmers havn't gotten sick in the last 40 years, I'm not going to worry about it now! I suspect that I probally accidently injested a lot more pathogens just working on the farm with my animals back in the day, than you could ever find in a little manure tea. Have a great week!

Ron


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Yeiks!
I was just looking around the GW to see about using dry molasses versus Unsulfered liquid and found this.

I thought I would mention, that Kim posted that she is using egg shells, then adding vinegar to the egg shells. Vinegar should NOT be used as a plant food..it is used for weed killing and will kill your seedlings.

As for liquid fertilizer, I usually use diluted fish emulsion for seedlings. (1/4th strength)

In defense of Organic Guy, I make rabbit manure tea and have for years without ill effects.
It is not as if, we are cleaning out the chicken coops, horse stalls, cow barns or rabbit hutches with our bare hands, then going in the house to make a sandwich and not wash up.
The year my Aruacana hen, Daisy sat on the tomato cages I won Blue Ribbon for the heaviest tomatoes, 3lb each, and my weigh in total has not been broken at that fair for 5 years.
Personally, I think there are more illnesses relating to improper home cannning method and improper hand washing than all of us who use manure tea.

As far as getting sick, well I have had one prescription for antibiotics in the last decade. Went in 2 years ago for built up ear wax cleaning. My daughter, who is now 15 has had 3 or 4 ear infections her entire life, that's it and we are questioned if we have a check up to make sure someone didn't "miss" our prescription list, as we have none.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

I thought I would mention, that Kim posted that she is using egg shells, then adding vinegar to the egg shells. Vinegar should NOT be used as a plant food..it is used for weed killing and will kill your seedlings.

In that case the vinegar was probably household vinegar at 5% strength. And it is probably used to soften or dissolve the egg shells. And it is probably poured onto the soil and not the plant. The vinegar that is used as a herbicide is usually 20% strength, is sprayed on the leaves of the plants, and only really works when sprayed in direct sunlight on a hot day. Otherwise vinegar is a carbohydrate that is used by the soil microbes for energy. But its strength as an acid might be cause to test it on your seedlings.

In defense of Organic Guy, I make rabbit manure tea and have for years without ill effects.

I think we talked about that, if not here then in another thread pretty close by. The entire human race is still here after doing the same thing since the dawn of agriculture. The issue is that there ARE pathogens in manure and there ARE ZERO pathogens in finished compost. If you don't want to fiddle around with stinky stuff that could make you sick, then stick with finished compost.


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RE: Homemade liquid fertilizer

Even household vinegar at 5% can alter the Ph of soil quickly and not best practice as a plant "food".
Your assuming how applied, I was merely informing it is not a good idea.

Thanks for the pathogen warning in regard to nutrient management, but I will continue to brew my manure tea and collect the Blue Ribbons.
BTW, I apply my manure tea via PVC pipes sunk below soil level , or in the filed plantings as a side dressing soil drench, controlling run off.


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