Gardening columnist Jocelyne Sewell provides ins-and-outs of fertilizer and compost tea. (File photo)

A Gardener’s Diary: Offer plants a cup of compost tea

As I write this, it is still raining.

The rain barrels are overflowing and all containers available are full.

The plants are pleading now for sun and warmer weather. We never had the furnace on in the middle of June but this year it came on a couple times and we keep it at 18 C.

I don’t see too much damage from the hail we got on June 12. Some young leaves got shredded, but the plants will rebound if the sun ever shines again.

On the Sunday’s Edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, I found a good article about fertilizing the garden plants with some that you possibly already have growing in your garden.

“The simplest method is to brew herbs and weeds — much as you would a morning tea. Some of the herbs to try are:

Comfrey – High in magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Stinging Nettle – Contains magnesium, sulphur, and iron.

And also, Horsetail – Loaded with silica, a nutrient that makes plants strong.

Borage and chickweed are also abundant and nutritious.

They’re slightly less nutrient-dense, but even dried kitchen herbs such as chamomile, oregano, sage, and dill that have become old and unpalatable can be used up in this way, too.

Herb weed fertilizer recipe

Stuff a bucket about half-full with roughly chopped leaves, stems, and flowers of weeds or pruned herbs.

Pack them in tightly.

Fill with water. You can use tap water or water from a rain barrel or speed the process by using heated, but not boiling, water.

Set aside to steep for a day in the sun. Cover with fine mesh to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.

Strain out the herbs or weeds and fill up a spray bottle (or watering can) with the concoction.

Pour it on the soil or fill a spray bottle to spray the leaves of your plants as a foliar feed.

The potency of fertilizer teas improves as the plants decompose.

The best teas are steeped for days or even weeks.

However, the high nitrogen content in some plants, such as comfrey and stinging nettle, eventually creates a slop that stinks something fierce!

Save the most malodorous brews for outdoor use; apply mixes that have been brewed for no longer than a day or so to houseplants and seedlings grown indoors.”

How Does Compost Tea Work?

You may be wondering why you should use compost tea when you already add compost to your soil.

Adding compost to your garden adds nutrients to the earth, but it’s part of a long-term maintenance process.

On the other hand, compost tea delivers all of those beneficial nutrients you get in compost, only faster.

That’s because when you add compost to water and let it “brew,” it steeps out the nutrients and makes them more available to the plants.

Kind of like a vitamin makes certain elements more available to your body. After all the rain we had, the plants will appreciate it.

For more information: call 250-558-4556; email jocelynesewell@gmail.com.

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