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How to Make Your Own Organic Liquid Fertilizer

by Fern on May 18, 2011

in How To,Popular

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My favorite way to fertilize my container garden is in my watering can. It’s just so easy to add fertilizer to a task I already am doing: watering. No digging in fertilizer (which can be a pain if you have mulched or top dressed your pots). No trying to convert instructions meant for huge yards into something workable for a container garden. Perhaps the only thing as easy is slow-release fertilizer, but very few of those are organic, and if you live somewhere with a lot of spring and summer rain, slow-release fertilizers can be transformed into very-fast-release fertilizers.

So, how does one make their own liquid fertilizer? It’s easy, actually. You just add a small amount of an organic, dry fertilizer to a full watering can, and let it soak for awhile.

Organic Liquid Fertilizer Recipes

Most watering cans are either 1 or 2 gallon cans. It’s important to know how large your watering can is because most of these recipes call for 1 gallon increments. If you have a two gallon watering can, simply double the recipe.

  • Guano Tea – Let 1 Tablespoon of seabird or bat guano soak in 1 gallon of water for 24 hours. Water with the guano tea twice a month.
  • Clean Air Worm Tea – Add 2 cups of worm castings and a half teaspoon of molasses to one gallon of water. Allow to soak for 1-2 days, stirring often. Add 1/2 cup of the liquid to a spray bottle, along with 2 cups of water. Spray it onto the leaves of your plants. Peppers especially like it. The remaining liquid can be used to water your plants.
  • Dry Fertilizer Turned Liquid – If you have an organic fertilizer that looks like a coarse dust, you can add a cup of fertilizer to a gallon of water. Let it sit for a day. Water your plants twice a month with the tea.
  • Moo Poo Tea – Let 1 manure tea bag soak in a five-gallon bucket filled with water. Place the bucket in the sun for 1 to 3 days. Water your plants as frequently as once a week with the moo poo tea.

How do you like to fertilize your container garden?

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

meemsnyc May 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I do the same thing! I make manure tea for the plants.

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Fern May 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Meems–One of the very first things I did as a baby gardener was make manure tea. Granted, I left it out and uncovered for weeks and mosquitoes layed their eggs in it…

Christine May 18, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I use a watering can too! I love mixing up different fertilizers for my plants! It is like baking with out an oven and I have to wait a few months before I can eat it :)

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Fern May 18, 2011 at 9:52 pm

LOL. Great analogy Christine.

Rosanne May 18, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Fern,
What is your favorite liquid fertilizer? I have never done either and don’t really have access to any of the supplies you mentioned but I am willing to look/order online for the best bet. Also, do you use the aquarium pump to keep the different fertilizers aerated like some websites suggest?

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Fern May 18, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Roseanne–I’ve seen the pumps recommended, but honestly, I’ve never done that. One type of liquid fertilizer that I really like, but didn’t write about in this post is liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer. I’ve used Neptune’s Harvest before, and I had good results. You don’t need to let it soak like the other types of fertilizers mentioned in this post.

Sue May 19, 2011 at 7:43 am

If you have a fish tank or fish bowl, don’t throw away the water, use it to water your plants — it’s “recycled” water with fish manure in it, works wonders on your plants.

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Lisa March 22, 2012 at 7:18 am

I have used my aquarium water on some azaleas (in the ground though, not pots) that were struggling. The next year the plants took off and bloomed spectacularly. I no longer have my aquarium, and I miss it — the water and the gorgeous fishies!

Anni May 19, 2011 at 8:27 am

Wonderful blog post bringing awareness to growing organically/sustainably is key. Thank you so much for the Moo Poo Tea mentions, it’s all about the Soil here : ) Annie

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Mary C. May 19, 2011 at 9:55 am

Good info! I must try the worm tea spray…

I fertilize my container every two weeks and I alternate the fertilizer I use. Sometimes it’s the dry Kellog’s soaked overnight in 5 gal. buckets, or liquid seaweed, or fish emulsion.

Last weekend I tried a compost tea from my own compost :) Not sure it was strong enough though :/ I think I didn’t use enough compost in each bucket. This weekend I’m going to see about getting a little fish tank air filter to aerate the water I soak my fertilizers in. I’ve heard that helps for beneficial bacterial.

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Vetsy May 20, 2011 at 5:20 am

I use liquid kelp and in the past fish emulsions., But I stopped using the fish because it was so stinky, and the flies would not stay away from the pots that I applied it to…Whew!

I have never used worm castings or bat guano, would the bat guano be as loud as fish emulsion? Thanks for sharing these helpful tips, I’ll give these a try.

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The Sage Butterfly May 20, 2011 at 9:04 am

I have used some of these, but not all of these. You gave me some great ideas.

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rebecca @ baydirt May 20, 2011 at 10:21 am

I love this! I’ve been making worm tea, but I haven’t tried adding molasses. Thanks for the tip.

I also made rabbit manure tea recently, with poo from a friend’s bunnies. I’ve heard conflicting info on rabbit manure being ok to use fresh. Mine was, and no problems. (Yet. But it’s been several weeks so I’m guessing I’d know by now if it was burning the plants.)
Any thoughts?

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Debbie May 21, 2011 at 8:42 am

I also make a manure tea, worm castings soaked in a gallon of water and last month I made a fish tea (very smelly!).

My west balcony has grown by leaps and bounds this May, my living privacy fence of Morning Glories is nearly 6 foot tall giving me purple flowers each morning.

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Chiot's Run November 5, 2011 at 4:00 am

I use all of these, but usually dry instead of making tea out of them. I’ve been toying with the idea of turning one of my rain barrels into an active compost tea brewer with the aerator.

Generally I buy Neptune’s Harvest in a five gallon bucket every 2 years and use that on the garden & outdoor potted plants.

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Invisible Gardener March 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm

another way to fertilize your plant….
coffee, cream and sugar!
try
1 gallon coffee ( make a second batch from your morning coffee )
1 cup milk
1/4 oz sugar. i like granny smiths molasses
allow to sit for 1 hour

spray as a foliar

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Wren March 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I bought some organic fertilizer (from buffalo!) last year and used it, but it didn’t say anything on the instructions about letting it steep for a few days like you mention for the moopoo tea. I wondered if I was using it right, as it didn’t seem to “mix” very well. I will steep it this year! Luckily I have a couple of watering cans, and can devote one to steeping outside and use the other for my inside plants or when the outside ones just need water. :)

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Jennifer April 12, 2012 at 6:17 am

Thank you for this excellent article! It’s a good reminder to combine two tasks (watering and fertilizing) and save time and energy. I used to use Neptune’s Harvest fish & seaweed emulsion, with great results. Last year I didn’t, and the lackluster harvest was my punishment.

This year I’ll be using Neptune’s and also making comfrey tea, which adds tons of nutrients. I started a comfrey bed expressly for this purpose. If you don’t have access to animal manures, comfrey leaves/tea can be a good substitute. Just don’t plant comfrey near your veg or flower beds–it’s gorgeous but spreads like the dickens.

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Asia April 18, 2012 at 11:16 am

I love your liberty of London watering can!!!

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Ross Cotton June 18, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Have a serious look at the things I grow using the Autopot System, there is nothing you cant grow and no weeds no watering, totaly self contained and self managing.
Email me for mor info.
Ross

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Rebecca July 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I’ve had GREAT success making my own manure tea using aged horse manure from our local county stables. I show you how on my blog Camp Wander, it’s easy and free! Added bonus…I’ve found it deters the pillaging deer here in WY :) http://campwander.blogspot.com/2012/05/please-dont-drink-sweet-manure-tea.html
http://campwander.blogspot.com/2012/06/can-manure-tea-deter-deer.html
Liquid organic fertilizer is so smart, great post thx!

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Yssa Caballero July 14, 2012 at 6:48 am

Hi, I just want to ask, is it possible to make a liquid organic fertilizer that is made up of potato? coz we’re like trying to find how to create a fertilizer for plants that is made of potato. Thanks!

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Peter Lusher July 23, 2012 at 4:40 am

I have been trying to obtain a small supply for the year of Liquinure but have been told that it is no longer supplied to my retailer.

Can you advise me as to how I can get this or similar liquid manure.

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Phil August 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

My favorite is the liquid fertilizers from ecolawnandgarden.com. They have a great selection and I can make my mix as strong or as weak as required. With the choices I can fit most of my plants needs.

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William October 20, 2012 at 3:54 am

Hi,
I love gardening and was only longing to have and finally decided to put a small garden inside my flat.

As I got few plants to start up my little garden and I would like to know when to add fertilizers and how to make a home made fertilizers.

I would like to have your inputs!!!

William,
Chennai

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Mahlori January 11, 2013 at 3:12 am

Thank you for giving us a beautiful guidence on how to make liquid fertiliser i was always giving my clients advice on using chemical fertilisers only but now i have learn alot that using also liquid one is helpful with its own benefits.

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Mahlori January 11, 2013 at 3:18 am

Can u please assist me if its a drum of 200l full of water can i use a bag of 80kg full of cow dung or how much can i use in 200l drum. i speak about cow dung because its easily to get the plants am not sure which one to use to make liquid fertiliser i will appreciate if you can help in this regard

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Mr kyaw zay ya February 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

I am Kyaw.Please help me to produce organic fods.I am photographer but I want to distribute ur techniques to famers in Burma.Please give ur advice and ur techniques as donator.I want to give money to u but my place has no banks.I cannot so.U share ur techniques for very poor burma farmers.so please send it ur advice to my gmail.I will translate ur advice to to burmese language and I am going to share to farmers.please send ur techniques to me as soon as possible as u can.Thanks anyway.See U again and good luck.

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flo krohn June 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I’ve just finished making comfrey tea (it does smell bad, as they said) but I find the watering cans heavy to lug around my garden (getting old and feeble, you know). However, I have a hose end feeder by Miracle Gro that I was wondering if I could use for the tea instead. It would be so much easier for me. Anyone have experience with this? If so, what would be the tea concentration. For the watering can, tea to water ratio is 1:15. But how do I calculate for the feeder? I don’t really see any distinct graduation marks on the feeder.

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