Mother Earth News Blogs > Homesteading and Livestock

Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

3 Fertilizer Teas for Plants

If you are trying to stay away from chemical fertilizers, stack the functions of the plants and animals on your property and save money then these simple fertilizer teas are just for you. There are many different kinds of fertilizer “teas” and we will be covering three of them in this blog. We will talk about comfrey, rabbit manure, and vermicompost tea! All of these teas work very well. IF you want to do a deep dive into fertilizer teas read some of Dr Elaine Ingham’s work.

A couple of general considerations on making fertilizer teas: first, make sure you either have your own source or get them from a trusted source where you know how they were grown/raised. For example, if minimizing chemical exposure is important to you then understanding the source is extremely important.

Second, all liquid fertilizer teas are quick acting. If you are looking for a prolonged and steady source of nutrient release then other methods will work better in most cases. One of the great benefits of liquid fertilizer teas is the application can be made at just the right time. If your plants are in dire straits this is also a good time to give a fertilizer tea boost.

Third, all three of these fertilizer teas can be used as a foliar feeding or a regular water feeding for the roots.

Finally, all of these methods can be sped up with aeration through stirring or using something like an aquarium aerator.

1. Comfrey tea (for plants) is simple to make and great as a fertilizer tea. For a very simple start just fill up a container, like a 5 gallon bucket, about 2/3 full with comfrey leaves and add water. Let sit for around three weeks and you are ready to go.

Dilute the concentrate with about a 1:10 ratio of comfrey tea to water and you have a great fertilizer to use on your plants. Comfrey not only provides a good NPK boost, it is also packed with micronutrients.

2. Rabbit manure tea is simple to make and highly beneficial for plants. You can go simple or complex. Start simple. Use a ration of 1 part rabbit manure to 5 parts water, let sit for seven days and it’s ready to use. When ready to use, dilute by using one cup of manure tea to one gallon of water.

Rabbit manure tea is higher in nitrogen then the other teas listed here but not nearly as high as chemical fertilizers so if you need a bit more of a nitrogen boost look to use rabbit manure tea.

3. Vermicompost tea (worm castings) is another easy to make fertilizer for plants. Take a couple handfuls of worm castings (poop) and add water. If you stick to the same 1/5 ratio as rabbit manure you will do just fine. Let sit for 1-3 days and it’s ready to use on plants.

Again, you can speed up and perhaps, increase the beneficial microorganisms by aerating and/or feeding the solution with a sugary substance like molasses.

All three of these fertilizer teas are great for providing nutrients and micronutrients to your plants, helping to keep you off the chemical treadmill and to save you money. If you are more interested in the science of soil check Dr Ingham’s online course.

Sean and Monica Mitzel homestead with their family on 40 acres and are using permaculture techniques and methods for the property. The homestead is a demonstration and education site where they teach workshops and raise dairy goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and ducks. The Mitzels have planted food forests, guilds and enjoy wildcrafting and propagating plants. Sean and Monica can often be found podcasting or speaking and teaching at different events. Listen to the podcast and to learn more about the Mitzels, visit The Prepared Homestead. Read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.       

All photo credits: Linde Mitzel, P3 Photography

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.