WEEDS as Fertilizer and Soil Amendment

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Weeds soak up nutrients from the soil. Now we’ve got a compelling reason to pick them! With the potential to sprout in compost, weeds never make it to my compost pile. I throw weeds out or use them to make a fertilizer tea.

Why might weeds be good for the garden?

Dandelions, stinging nettles, oxalis, chickweed and clover suck up minerals and nutrients from the soil and air – nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, molybdenum, zinc and more.Benefits of weeds in a garden

Where do I find weeds?

In my backyard…and a few million other places.

Which plants may benefit from weeds?

Use weed tea to fertilize your vegetables, fruit and herbs. It’s best used on plants that need nitrogen.

If applied to edibles that blossom, a one-time feeding early in the growth cycle is best. If you over apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers on tomatoes or other plants that blossom and fruit, you’ll get more leaves at the expense of fruit.

Repeat every month for vegetables that do not flower or fruit.

Combine weeds with…

Nothing. They work great all by themselves. If you want to get real fancy, and make a more complete fertilizer, add kelp or worm castings in with the weeds. Stay away from combining weeds with nitrogen-rich materials such as manures, alfalfa pellets, fish, etc.

Fertilizer Weed Tea Recipe

Gather Weeds

The best weeds for tea fertilizer are the ones that have not gone to seed yet. If your weeds have gone to seed, look for an old t-shirt or old pair of pantyhose that you can use to contain the plant matter.

Pull up the roots too to prevent them from growing back and to take advantage of their nutrients. Immediately place in a container, not on the ground where seeds can drop.

Make Tea

Use any size bucket as your guide. I use a 5-gallon pail or anything I can grab at the time.Making tea from weeds

Fill your bucket halfway with weeds. Cut up the weeds to expose more of the surface area of the plants. If you want to contain the weeds to save trouble later (especially if they have gone to seed), place all your weeds in an old pair of pantyhose or a t-shirt tied at both ends. Make sure you can untie the sack easily so it can be reused. If the cloth is compostable, you might decide to bury the entire used bag of weeds or compost it.

Steep the Tea

With your weeds (or bag of weeds) in the bucket, fill the bucket with water and let it steep for just a couple of days. Now here is where the t-shirt or pantyhose come in handy. Pull the bag of weeds out and your weed tea is ready to use.

If you put loose weeds in the bucket to steep (that have NOT gone to seed), strain the weeds as you pour by holding them back with a gloves hand or pour the tea through a fine sieve.

Fertilize

I don’t use precise measurements with weed tea. If the color of my tea is vibrant, I dilute a bit to arrive at a faint colored liquid then moisten the soil first with just water, and apply the weed tea at the drip line.

If you are concerned that the leftover plant matter contains weed seeds, create a compost area just for weeds and cover with cardboard and a brick or rocks to hold the cover in place.Benefits of dandelion tea

Weeds Quick Tips

  • Don’t use weeds infested with aphids or other pests or diseases.

Stay away from areas sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

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