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Organic fertilisers: how to make your own

You may already know that Comfrey contains a lot of protein (25% by weight when dried, apparently) which is why it has been used as fodder in the past, and is still fed to chickens today.

And I'm sure you've all read that “nettle tea is a delicious and beneficial beverage” - although I have to say, I've never tried it myself, nor do I want to!

But both of these common weeds can be put to use in the garden: they contain a lot of nutrients, as they both have deep root systems which can extract minerals from the soil, at depths that many other plants cannot reach.

This year, why not have a go at making your own organic plant food from Comfrey and nettles? By watering, or spraying, your plants with an extract made from either or both of these weeds you can provide nitrogen, and lots of trace minerals.

These feeds are not a substitute for good soil care, of course, but can be very beneficial for plants growing in confined spaces such as pots or containers: and it provides a top up of nutrients in readily available form that plants can use quickly.

It's very easy: put on some gloves, get a bucket, and fill it with chopped comfrey leaves, or with chopped nettles. Ram them down well, then add just enough water to cover them. Put a lid on the bucket, and leave it - two weeks for nettles, six weeks for Comfrey. Stir, or poke it with a stick, every now and again, and prepare to hold your nose as you do so, as it's quite stinky!

After the requisite time, strain off the disgusting smelling, dark brown liquid, and dilute it 1:10, ie one cupful of brown liquid to ten cupfuls of water. You don't have to be too precise about the dilution, as long as you end up with liquid that looks a bit like weak tea. This can then be sprayed onto the foliage, or watered in around the base of the plants.

Is that it? Yes, it really is that easy! If you don't have either of them growing in your own garden (stop looking so smug, we can see you!) then pop down to your local allotment and ask if you can collect a bagful.

To make it even easier, you can stuff the chopped leaves into hessian or muslin bags (or some old tights) before soaking them, so you don't have to strain them: and yes, the leftover mush can go straight onto the compost heap.

So why not give it a go? And best of all, you have a perfect excuse for not brewing that delicious and nutritious cup of Nettle Tea: “Sorry, I've used it all for the plants!”

Comments (2)

  1. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    I've read many articles about this Rachel but one thing that always gets left out is just how long the shelf life is? Right now my neighbour has a mass of nettles in his garden and I could give it a go but as now is not the time to give my plants any food, would the nettle tea keep in containers until spring?

  2. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    HI Angie (waves) I did try to reply to this over the weekend, but it hasn't appeared - I was trying to use my phone, and clearly I did something wrong!

    Anyway, shelf life of organic fertilisers: as the nutrients are in solution, and are already in pretty much their basic form, they are not likely to degrade if stored in a sealed bottle.

    Personally I'm still feeding veg, anything still flowering, and anything that's looking a bit tired!

    Just bear in mind that it will only get smellier....


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