Pig For Victory No.20: How to make your own plant feed.

There isn't really any need to rush out and buy expensive chemicals to keep care of your plants. Sometimes the things we throwaway can improve the soil, and the things we grow can become something to feed our plants with.

Little D shows the importance of eggs shells as a lime substitute.

We often discard egg shells or chuck them in the compost heap where they can sulk for months or years if you don't break them up but there is an easier and quicker way to use them. Wash and save your egg shells, allow them to get dry and then put them in a blender until they turn to powder or granulated powder (depending on how good your blender is). Then use this powder as a substitute for lime, they release calcium carbonate into the soil and benefit any lime loving plants.

Making comfrey, borage and nettle tea to feed plants.

We grow comfrey on Pig Row, it is a great plant for any problem corner, it's great to grow by the compost heap as the leaves can be used in the heap as an activator. This medicinal herb can also be used as a great feed. Take a bucket of water and chuck in an armful of leaves and stalks and leave for a month with a lid over the bucket. WARNING: You will come back to the bucket after a month and take the lid off, your nostrils will be assaulted by the foulest smell you have ever had stuck in your throat but persevere. Strain your liquid and bottle it and put it in the shed. Then add it to water 1:20, that's 1 part of comfrey juice to 20 parts water to make a weak tea. You can then water your crops with it to boost fruiting. You can also do this with nettles, but nettle tea is used to promote root growth, so it great for young plants and comfrey is great for making vegetables and fruit go wild. You can also add borage to the comfrey tea to make an all round feed. If you're near the seaside don't leave that seaweed on the beach, it can also be used in a tea to promote growth or added to the soil in winter to rot down.

Then there's bananas. Don't throw those skins, bury them in the soil and allow the potassium in the skin to leach out into your soil. It's great for acid loving plants too.

Urine can be used on plants and has been done so for centuries.

Then there is urine. Some people may feel we're being distasteful but most farm land around cities is a result of night soil (human excrement). So, we're not taking the piss when we say that urine is very handy stuff and has real eco credentials, most toilets use up to 100 litres of water a day just to flush away 1.5 litres of urine. If you're on a water meter this may save you money. Pee in a bottle and use it on your garden, 1 part urine to 10 parts water on mature plants and 1 part to 50 parts for tender plants and seedlings. Do you feel ill? What's in urine that can harm you? Urine is 95% water, 2.5% urea, 2.5% of minerals, salts, hormones and enzymes. It contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, and is a fast acting feed. We would recommend night soil but some of you may be eating your tea and that may push you too far.

How to make manure tea. How simple feeds will save you money.

Manure tea is an old and proven feed in the garden and was being used by our ancestors centuries ago. It is one of the easiest ways of containing your feed with little or no messing around. Fill a 5 gallon drum with water. Shovel a manure of your choice into a hessian sack or old pillowcase. You need to choose what manure you want to use, and what you can get your hands on. If you're a flower lover turn to only horse or cow muck. The best manure in the vegetable garden is chicken, cow or horse. If you have acid loving plants turn only to cow and horse. There are arguments for pig manure but like all manures if you don't know the source, don't use it, manure can be full of weed seeds or worse, chemicals. Check your source. Remember that this manure is fresh and we do not recommend using fresh manure direct onto plants, any manure added to soil should be 6 months old to prevent transmission of  E coli 0157. Now you have a pillowcase full of muck, tie string around the opening and tie closed, attach the loose ends of the string to a stick longer than the opening of your drum (does it remind you of those tea bags with the string attached?). Allow the sack to steep in the water for several days - the water should look like a rich golden tea - pull the sack out but allow it to drip dry over the drum. Dilute the manure tea to the colour of weak tea and apply as foliage feed through a spray, direct onto the soil around plants or in your compost heap to speed up the process.

These feeds will cover all the bases in your garden and will save you money, year in, year out and you will never turn to a shop bought chemical again.


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