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How complicated does "weed tea" need to be?

 
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I got a recipe from somewhere on making weed tea.  You needed a barrel or bucket of weeds, a measured amount of epsom salts and wood ash, and then fill it with rainwater.  Then mix/turn it daily for a few days, dilute 50% and apply.

The missus accidentally used all our wood ash on the garden.  Would weed tea made without the ash still work?

Are there any weeds that shouldn't be added?  I'm thinking about bracken ferns.

If I use an aquarium bubbler I should be able to avoid turning/mixing the weeds in the barrel, correct?

Thanks for any help that can be provided!!!
 
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I would think that any plant that replicates by spores (like ferns) would not be great for such a tea.
The lack of wood ash might not be such an issue since that is probably mineral addition along with pH buffering/changing.

In such a short time brewing I'm of the opinion that turning is more about allowing more stem breakage and thus liquid access to more of the nutrient containing plant fluids so it would not be a step to bypass simply by adding an air stone.

I am sure that Eric has some ideas on this too, hopefully he will chime in on this subject.

Redhawk
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Thanks Bryant!  The missus just collected a huge pile of weeds from the flower bed so I'll use them for a batch.  I'll chop them up a bit to get more "stem breakage".  When I turned the piles before, I think it was to keep the brew aerobic.  I don't think I broke very many stems.  When I left for a few days and the missus neglected it, it started to stink to high heaven.
 
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I got a recipe from somewhere on making weed tea.  You needed a barrel or bucket of weeds, a measured amount of epsom salts and wood ash, and then fill it with rainwater.  Then mix/turn it daily for a few days, dilute 50% and apply.
The missus accidentally used all our wood ash on the garden.  Would weed tea made without the ash still work?
Are there any weeds that shouldn't be added?  I'm thinking about bracken ferns.
If I use an aquarium bubbler I should be able to avoid turning/mixing the weeds in the barrel, correct?



Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom salts) can be useful especially if you grow chillies/peppers, tomatoes or roses.

I would concur with Bryant regarding manual stirring to help break things down and in terms of additional aeration.

I think your wife did right doing it separately but be careful with that stuff, I would recommend using seaweed (has potassium +traces) rather than wood ash because the Potassium Hydroxide in ash is an aggressive alkali (up to 14 pH).

If you can get a handle on some of the nutrient balances in particular ‘weeds’ you may be pleasantly surprised to find that many of them are dynamic accumulators and quite useful. If you are concerned about spreading weeds don’t harvest them when they are producing their fruits. The longer you leave them to break down in the liquid the less weed seed will be present but studies show that some weed seeds are incredibly recalcitrant and will survive a dunking (is that just an English colloquialism?).  If you compost everything in timely fashion you don’t have to worry so much about dodgy stuff in the weeds and the longer you leave it in the water the more the toxins will break down. Bearing this in mind you are probably safer avoiding spraying leaves and veg that you are just about to consume and concentrate on root drenches which gives your solution more of a chance of breaking down further.  Some weeds like ones with foxtails can be risky to handle and some of the ferns that Bryant mentions have carcinogenic spores.

Maybe give us a ‘rogues gallery’ list of what weeds you are using so we can check it out.

Hope that helps.

NB. I have just come back to this after a few days and spotted some studies regarding ferns and its not just the spores you have to worry about. In some areas the substances in ferns have been getting into reservoirs and so forth.  They are very widespread and all parts of the some species can cause serious health associated issues on ingestion.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Thanks Eric for all the info!  Our soil is on the acid side (6.0 to 6.5) so a little alkalinity from the ash may be ok.  I need to figure out how much is too much.  She did a heavy dusting (if that's a scientific measurement).  As for seaweed, it lives about 2000 miles away from here...

I made a bent metal rod to mix and turn the weeds.  I also cut them up into 8" pieces at the beginning of the latest batch.  I fish the rod down to the bottom of the barrel, turn it 90 degrees and lift the weeds up and partially out of the water.  Then I shove them down the opposite side.  This basically churns the wad of weeds and gets a fair amount of air into the mix (I think).

I don't know most of the weeds, but we do have plenty of spotted knapweed and white cockle to use.  I have some young comfrey plants that I don't want to harvest to much but I know they'd be good.  Ferns are common but I'll skip them.  I get bits of common vetch which I believe is good.  I have tons of sheep sorrel but it's small so I need a bunch to fill a bucket.  I can find burdock if I look hard enough and probably some mustards.  Other than that, I'm just guessing.  I could easily harvest grass but I'm not sure that would be as good as a weed?

I mix the stuff for 3-4 days and dilute it 50/50 and apply with a watering can near the root zone.  With some plants, it's impossible to hit the ground without hitting the foliage but I do a pretty good job avoiding the edible parts.
 
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