Green tea

I got this recipe for a liquid fertilizer from the permaculture course we did at the Durban Botanic Gardens.  Take a bucket of water and soak green leaves (I used comfrey) in it for a couple of days.  The resulting mixture is supposedly rich in nutrients that plants can easily absorbed.  I’ve added it to my sad looking fever tree and will report back as to its health in a week or two.

A bucket of goodness.

A bucket of goodness.

Green tea?

Green tea?

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13 Responses to Green tea

  1. mol-d July 6, 2009 at 10:48 am #

    i’ve heard it works a treat.. but isn’t it better to cover the mixture and leave it for longer?

  2. Niall McNulty July 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    you are supposed to put the green plant matter in a net bag which I didn’t have but I think two days is fine.

  3. Rita September 28, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I want to know where can I buy Confrey Fertilizer and what would the cost be? I can only find prizes on the market abroad. Something in South Africa? Thank you, Rita

  4. Patrick September 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    hi rita. I’ve never seen it at our local nurseries. why not make your own from a comfrey plant? they grow like weeds.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfrey#Fertilizer_uses

  5. shaggy September 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Gliricidia is also a good ingredient. In fact any leguminous plant will make a tea rich in nitrogen, an important plant nutrient.

  6. Mariska December 7, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Does anyone know where we can get smeerwortel/comfrey in Cape Town please?

  7. Dave de Witt March 8, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    Hey fellow Green Gardeners

    Comfrey tea is great stuff, no need to bag it, just stir it up once or twice a day to aerate the mixture and strain it before you use it. You can then use the remains for mulch, compost etc.
    Comfrey is also in a category of plants called “Dynamic Accumulators”, these plants mine nutrients from deep down in the soil and make them available to other plants. Sunflowers are big on Phosphorous, Borage – Silica and Potassium and the list goes on. Comfrey is well known and used as it accumulates silica, nitrogen, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium which is more of an all round fertilizer.

    Legumes would be great and if you include some root nodules, you may gain extra beneficial Nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

    Anyone tried AACT? Actively Aerated Compost Tea?

  8. mol-d March 8, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    no, what is it?

  9. Dave March 9, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    It’s basically a microbe brew used for foliar feeding and enriching the soil food web.

    I posted this somewhere else a couple days ago…

    Actively Aerated Compost Tea

    I start from scratch with 30 litres of water which I let stand over night or bubble with air pumps for at least an hour, this is to get rid of chlorine which kills the microbes we are trying to brew. Next step is to add 1tbsp molasses for every 4.5 litres of water, dilute molasses with warm water first. Next, take 1 cup of fresh worm castings or compost (no manure) for every 25L water, 1 cup is fine with 30L, a little more is okay too, but not too much. Wrap the castings loosely in a piece of muslin or similar cloth with loose weave. Suspend it in the water, just below the surface if possible.
    Now, I’ve got 2 double output aquarium airpumps and have 1 airstone and 1 airlift pump powered by each pump. Place one airstone directly beneath the suspended castings and the other near one side or in the bag with the castings. Attach the airlift pumps to the side of your “brewer” as deep as possible but make sure the outlet is at least 2cm above the water level, this helps break surface tension and release co2. At this point you may add various other microbial foods such as fruit pulp, fish hydrolizate or rock dust which is great for fungi. Molasses, green plant matter and simple sugars are best for boosting beneficial bacteria. If you have access to Trichoderma or Mycorrhizal fungi spores, add them to the mix when it is ready to apply.
    Leave it to brew for at least 12hours, preferably 24, it may have some foam like the brew in the picture, but it might not, this is not a problem. Your nose will tell you if your brew is good, if it smells like a toilet, something went wrong, maybe you need more air, if it smells like it did when you made it, but a bit more “earthy” then it should be good. Once you are satisfied you have a good brew, remove all pumps, stones and the castings. 30L should be enough for a decent sized veggie patch and some pot plants. Do not dilute. To make your tea go further, water the area first and then apply the tea lightly. Pre-watering before applying tea, or any liquid fertilizer for that matter, helps the nutrients get down to the roots where they are needed most.
    Apply the tea directly to the soil or as a foliar feed. Be sure to clean all equipment used to make the brew asap.
    I must make it clear that this is not a nutrient solution, although it contains some nutrients, they are mostly food for the beneficial microbes. Once these microbes enter the soil they begin work unlocking nutrients, feeding on pathogens and exchanging nutrients for sugars with plants. When used as a foliar feed these same microbes occupy sites on the plant where pathogens may take hold, essentially overcrowding the leaves, not leaving any room for diseases or pathogens.
    For a detailed insight into The Soil Food Web, I suggest reading Teaming With Microbes by Dr. Elaine D. Ingham.
    Hope this helps, let me know if you are curious about anything else.

  10. Julia March 11, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Dave you put me to shame. I was interested in recycling our grey water a while ago, and still havent done much about it, meantime you have two pumps an aerator and hours of time dedicated to this. Amazing!

  11. jill charlotte March 12, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    I have done this with comfrey as well as penny wort and will do so again! comphrey leaves left over make a great mulch… xxx jill charlotte

  12. Dave March 12, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Hey Julia, I haven’t started recycling my grey water yet, but with pending water restrictions next year, it is definitely on my to-do list. Along with getting a jojo tank.

    I’m thinking something along the lines of a coco-peat bio-filter that the grey water will run through first, with Super EM to clean it up. Theoretically, the water that emerges from the bio-filter should be drinkable, but I’ll give it to the plants.

    What I’m doing at the moment is experimenting with different balances of fungi and bacteria in compost teas, using tap water.

    Here is some info on The Soil Food Web

    http://www.soilfoodweb.com/sfi_approach1.html

    Well, rather alot actually….

  13. Julia March 14, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Hi Dave
    Jo Jo tanks are great, we should all be doing that. I thought (this is going to make you shudder) I could just put our grey water straight into the garden. If the outlet pipe is moved around regularly wouldnt that be enough? I’ve only got kitchen and laundry water to use, bathroom is straight into a soak pit. Wasn’t it great to get some rain in Durban!!!

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