The Q&A Archives: Manure Tea For Tomatoes

Question: I recently heard that manure tea is an excellent fertilizer for tomato plants. Is this true? If so, what are the proportions of water and manure and how much should be used per plant?

Answer: There are two different ways that I know of to make manure tea. One for fresh manure, one for composted manure. Here is the recipe for using fresh manure: Fill a burlap sack with 18 gallons of fresh cow, horse or chicken manure. Place the sack in your55 gallon barrel and cover it with water. The volume ratio should always be at least three parts water to one part manure. Steep the mixture for a month. During that time the water may bubble and darken. When bubbling has finished and the color is dark brown, remove the sack and dilute the mixture to an amber color. Manure tea is most effective when used as a soil drench around young transplants and seedlings for a nitrogen boost. Apply about one pint of diluted tea per vegetable or flower plant every one to two weeks. To use composted manure such as you purchase in the garden center, I fill a cheese cloth with the composted manure, tie it with twine and soak it in a 5 gallon bucket of warm water overnight. This type does not need to be diluted before applied to plants.

Because the nutrient levels in manure vary widely, it's difficult to give exact advice on the amount to use. Manure tea does seem to help tomato plants avoid early and late blight, so sprinkle some on the leaves as you're applying to the soil around each plant.

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