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Fertilizing-Compost Tea

You may have noticed that some of your larger plants, especially those in pots, may look a little more yellow. These plants may be suffering from a lack of nutrients and a little heat stress. The soil mix that we filled the pots did include a good amount of nutrients for your plants. However, during the season when the soil is hot and we need to water more often, nutrients breakdown quickly or can be leached out when watering.

One way to remedy this situation is to fertilize. There are lots of products you can buy from a store, just make sure they can be used on vegetables. If you choose to buy a fertilizer I would suggest 'fish emulsion'. This product is an organic liquid fertilizer produced by fish processors. After butchering the fish the entrails, bones, and skin are composted and filtered into a brown stinky liquid that is full of great nutrients for plants.

If you want to be more self sufficient you can try making your own fertilizer called 'compost tea'. Compost tea can be made simply in a bucket or an old gallon milk container.

1. You will start by taking your container out into your yard and pick healthy leaves/flowers of a variety of plants/weeds (or grass clippings from an untreated yard).

2. Then place the leaves into the container until it is about 1/3 full.

3. Next, you will need to find about a cup of soil from an undisturbed location or compost pile. You may want to look under a brush pile, an old stump, or under some leaves. You want a place where things have been actively decomposing and the soil is alive with organisms. You will place this cup of soil into the container with the leaves/grass clippings.

4. Next, you will add a tablespoon of sugar or molasses. This will provide food for the decomposers that will be working to create your fertilizer.

5. Add non-chlorinated water (Left to sit 24hrs) or rainwater until the container is nearly full. Leave some space near the top because you will be mixing or shaking.

6. For the next 5 days shake or stir vigorously for at least 5 minutes. The shaking process will add air to the mixture and will help the organisms/bacteria multiply and work on releasing the nutrients from the leaves.

7. After 5 days, drain off all the liquid from the mixture. Dilute with an equal amount of water. The nutrients that were in the leaves are now your fertilizer.

Feel free to start the process right away in the same container or try a new recipe with different plant leaves. A couple things to remember:

-Do not use any plant material or soil that has been treated with herbicide or pesticide.

-Do not you leaves off a walnut tree. It can kill many plants.

This is a fun experiment for kids and you should see your plants greening up in a week or so after you apply. Good Luck!


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