Spring In the gardens:making free fertiliser

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Weeding does not quite become a delight today, but it is much less of a chore when i know the weeds are going into a weed tea. This super simple technique makes free fertiliser from many of the plants you dont want.

grab a bucket with a lid, very important, we’re going to starve the weeds we pull of oxygen. Today I pull up heaps of forgetmenots, as well as some greater celendine. They’re pretty but form a solid monoculture quite quickly if left unchecked we could have forgetmenots and nothing else. Some seedheads have formed on these already so I’m careful to pick these off my tshirt before I’m done.

Comfrey is having a huge growth spurt, and its soft downy leaves break down very quickly. I grab outer layers of leaves from a few of our bocking 14 comfrey plants leaving the flowers and younger leaves to carry on growing.

We have a little yarrow, I pull a few fronds of this too, it grows back very quickly and is also part of a well loved group of plants known as compost activators, along with comfrey and nettle. We don’t have an established nettle patch yet, so no nettle in todays brew. Another group has been pulling out dandelion, a plant we love for salads but its so prolific that its easy to have too much in the garden. My eyes light up when I see this on in the barrow. Dandelion is a dynamic accumulator which means it has been building up with nutrients, typically high in phosphorus and calcium, the former helps flowers form and fruit set, while the latter is essential for growing brassicas like cabbages and kale. So in it goes.

I push down weeds deep into the bucket. They come about 2/3 way up a 20L food bucket. Next water, from one of our rainwater tanks. this water has no chlorine, so we wont be interfering with the microbes whose job it is to break down our plant materials. The bucket’s quite heavy by now, so before i fill it any further i move it to where it will sit for a few weeks. I give it a good stir to loosen any air pockets. This process relies on keeping the plants underwater. An oxygen supply might help roots stay alive or even grow.
Because I’m not planning to leave this weed tea for very long, I don’t add the greater celandine. Its roots are quite resilient and thick, and I don’t want to take the chance it might resprout. Once in the shed, I close the lid tight, and on it I write the date and ingredients.

i’ll check back in a couple of weeks to see how it’s going.

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And here are the gorgeous blossoms of one of our Medlar trees in full bloom just now.

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