Our gardens like tea too!
We drink tea for different reasons. We sip peppermint tea to quiet an upset stomach. We make a blend using plants from our gardens to enjoy throughout the winter, not only savoring the aroma and taste, but receiving health benefits too from minerals and vitamins contained in flowers and stems, leaves, and roots.
Making compost tea from weed clippings is easy and gives additional nourishment to plants free from synthetic fertilizers, or chemical ones.
Weeds are a powerhouse of minerals, in trace amounts that the soil uses and needs to stay strong and healthy, a good base for our plants to grow. When we clip weeds rather than pull out all roots we keep an incredible underground network intact. This network of fungi, mycorrhizal hyphae, microscopic in size, and insects sends nutrients where needed. I have stopped pulling weeds from garden paths. They are often soft and I can easily keep them cut and low but I have become keenly aware that they have an extremely important role in maintaining garden health. It’s like we have an underground highway beneath our feet, one that delivers information, nutrients and even aid, all through an intricate communication system. It can pick up messages about an unwanted pest and send signals to plants to prepare, if possible.
My guest this week, Kris McCue from the Bionutrient Food Association, stresses over and over that healthy soil makes for healthier food. The BFA has great articles, youtube videos, information to assist in keeping soil healthy. And I don’t know about you, but I love a juicy tomato fresh picked from my garden on a hot summer’s day filled with taste and flavor.
So let’s get back to compost tea. It’s nothing new and yet it seems to me to be even more important now that we are uncovering the incredible network joining various root systems underground. Like sun tea, we use water, weeds, and sun to brew the weeds in a bucket, strain. The resulting tea can be watered onto a garden and even used as a foliar spray.
- Use cut plant material, typically weeds, and place into a quart bucket. Some sources suggest a bucket with a tap too. Consider placing them into a cloth, like cheesecloth so small pieces do not clog the hose when you are ready to use it.
- Fill 1/2 container with plant material, then cover and fill the bucket with water.
- Let sit for three weeks, understand this will smell.
- Stir every couple of days
- Add one large spoonful of molasses and stir again.
- When three weeks is over, you can water your garden with this tea. For a foliar spray, it is often recommended to dilute the tea in a ratio of 1:10: one part tea to ten parts water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil to 4 quarts of water so the tea adheres to the leaves.
“Compost tea is an effective, low-strength, natural fertilizer for seedlings and garden plants. It can suppress fungal plant diseases. The tea-brewing process extracts (and in some cases grows and multiplies) nutrients and beneficial bacteria and fungi and suspends them in water in a form that makes them quickly available to plants.” Rodale Press
Biodynamic farming, organic farming sources give many examples of healthy thriving gardens that employ these practices.
I like tea making for myself and family. I have used many weeds for their nourishing properties. In previous posts, I have highlighted the nourishing components found in common weeds that are edible. Our garden’s soil needs food too. Compost tea is easy to make, can be kept outside and replenished with more cut weeds as we use the tea water.
Got tea? Don’t forget your garden! Notice any difference? Send us your observations and use of compost tea. We’d love to hear from you.