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Fast easy liquid fertilizer?

 
John Brownlee
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I'm looking for ideas on how to make a quick (like 24 hours) liquid, fast acting, organic fertilizer. I'm starting a nursery business,and I need a way to regularly fertilize potted plants, because to sell they need to look good. Bare minimum requirements are organic. I refuse to use salt based chemical feet, and besides, I really can't afford to buy all the fertility. I do have chickens and we use deep litter in the coop. Any input?
 
Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Pee, is easy to come by.

Compost tea, but that would require a lot of compost, although less than of you used compost directly.
 
chad Christopher
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1.5 lbs of compost 1/4 cup of organic sugar, 2oz of soluable kelp, per 5 gallons of water. Stir it up good, and stick a cheap aquarium bubbler deep down in the bottom. (Around 7 bucks).
The sugar promotes bacterial growth, the kelp fungi. You may replace the kelp with 2 tbs of ground oat meal. Let it bubble away for atleast a day, about 36 hours would be better. I wouldnt go any bigger than ten gallons, unless you have built some sort of better brewer, and a screen and filter system. Thats 80lbs of water to carry. Strain out the muck, spray away. Notice, this must be done with active compost, not the sterile home depot crap. If using chicken litter, i wouldn't go above 30% manure content. I put a bottle with holes poked in it, to slide the air stone in. Sometimes the stone alone can struggle if the muck tries to settle. Five gallons will treat approximately 500 cubic feet of soil, or 25 gallons per cubic yard of soil.


Edit: although not necessary, the best temperature is 78-80 degrees, so brewing in a greenhouse should be about right. If you happen to forget about the tea, add a little more sugar anytime after 72 hours. The oatmeal or ag kelp is fine, the fungi wont grow until later when its in the soil. Also, rain water, or let tap water sit in the sun for a while, if your county chlorinates.
 
Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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There are some differing opinions/facts floating around about O2 levels and aquarium pumps in compost tea. Of all the sources I have come across I find microbeorganics to be the leader in testing and information. The guy who runs that site tested all kinds of designs and pumps and came to a rough guideline for O2 levels and growing aerobic organisms. This is what he says on the topic.

First of all I’d like to make it clear that most aquarium air pumps don’t produce enough air to use in a container larger than 1 gallon when considering making an aerated brewer. So don’t even try the 5 gallon pail with the aquarium pump idea everybody is passing around. You need a minimum 0.05 CFM (cubic feet per minute), open flow of air and an optimum 0.08 CFM per gallon (US) or higher to make aerated compost tea (ACT). ACT should have the DO2 sustained at or above 6 PPM. Generally, aquarium pumps produce around 0.02 to 0.16 CFM. Another generality is that 25 watts of power usually produces 0.75 to 1.0 CFM in diaphragm air pumps. The wattage is usually marked on the pump which will help you figure out the approximate output. I’ll cover more on air pumps later.


This not to say you cannot execute the design sketched above to make fertilizer, it just will not be "aerated compost tea" in the sense that is normally meant. The organisms you are attempting to grow with ACT will not grow out in a low oxygen environment like 5 gallons with a small aquarium pump. My experience has been using a 5 gallon brewer with an ecoplus commercial air pump. No troubles bubbles.... get it?
 
John Brownlee
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Chad, any idea what the nitrogen level might be for compost tea like this? The goal is to push rapid (healthy) growth to get plants to market quickly. I have limited space so turnover is key to success.
 
chad Christopher
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Thanks Zach, i have not used that system for a while. I actually do use a fairly small air pump to power an simple air lift, for agitation and aeration, and have had positive results with it. So, after looking at some prices, i found some pumps for under 100 bucks. Thats probably why i went with an air lift vortex design.

John, in your case, aged chicken manure will provide a significant amount of nitrogen.


Organic fertilizers have a lower percent of nitrogen than other sources, so they need to be applied at higher rates. Consider watering with tea from seed to finish. Other sources are pretty costly in comparison.

I have no recommended urine because you are selling to the public. But it works.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Dilute the pee 4 or 5 parts water to one part pee, and this is nature's Miracle Gro. You can use it straight on composts, or perhaps in preparing potting soils. It is wonderful compared with biochar, which you should know about too as a potting soil amendment.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Got comfrey? You can make a tea from comfrey leaves that is high nitrogen. Get a brewer's bucket or rain barrel--something with a good lid and a spigot. Fill it with comfrey leaves and add water. Let them sit at least a week, but the longer the better. Draw off what you need and dilute 10:1, refilling as you go. Be warned, it is foul smelling stuff while you make it.
 
Baba Orum
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Maybe you could try nettle tea or comfrey tea. The plants (all of them) love it but it can take between 1 and 3 weeks to prepare depending on the temperature. That's all I've been using and the plants/veg are really healthy.
 
John Brownlee
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I've thought of using comfrey tea. Does it not need a vent to release pressure as it brews? I'm in Georgia so it shouldn't take much time to brew. I do have a bit of comfrey but my plants are in production for cuttings. I don't yet have nettle growing so could I do half comfrey leaves and half a mix of lettuce, kale, collards etc?
 
Baba Orum
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i'm not sure about mixing comfrey with another leafy plant to have a good fertilizer. I haven't tried.
No need for a vent. I just cut the leaves in pieces to activate the process, fill the bucket (not metal) with leaves, add water (no tap water if you can) cover the bucket, stir every 2 days. when there's no bubbles, the fermentation is finished and your tea is ready. (it doesn't smell very good but you may come to like it when you see the results on your plants)
the exact recipe is : 1 kg of fresh leaves for 10 litres of filtered water. when brewed, filter the mixture (just take a big spoon to remove what's left of stems). then for each litre of tea obtained, add 10 litres of water and water the plants with this fertilizer. I usually add 15 litres of water because i'm always generous with the amount of leaves in the bucket.
the stems that are left in your bucket can be added in your compost bin.

I like the nettle tea because it's "multitask". if you only brew it for a few days (let's say 2 or 3 at the most in your area as it is warm) you can also use it as a natural pesticide on your plants. if used as a pesticide, you will not dilute it.

if you don't dilute if after the fermentation is finished, you can use it as a week killer. so the nettle tea, depending on how long you let it brew and if you add water or not can be used as a fertilizer, pesticide or weed killer. (i killed 2 tomato plants a few years ago, when i forgot to add water).

If you could cut some nettles (in the woods, forest) as long as you're sure they haven't been sprayed with chemical pesticides, you would have a great fertilizer.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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