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How To Brew Chicken Manure "Tea" for your Garden

Brew some chicken manure "tea" to use as a super nutritious, fertilizing drink for your garden plants.

If you garden and raise chickens, you can forget about having to buy Miracle Gro or fertilizer ever again. It's so easy to make this Chicken Manure Tea to fertilize your gardens!

We use the Deep Litter Method of overwintering the coop bedding, which is an old-timer's method of composting the chicken manure all winter right in your coop. Then in the spring, you just clean it all out and add it to your compost pile.

We also compost our horse manure, so when its time to prepare my vegetable garden, I have piles of composted soil at my disposal.

How To Brew Chicken Manure "Tea" for your Garden

But this year I decided to step it up a bit and brew a batch of manure tea to help add more nutrients to our garden soil. 

I've been preparing the garden for planting for the last week or so, and it's a perfect time to give the soil a drink of nutrient-rich tea.

What is Chicken Manure Tea?

A form of compost tea, manure tea contains beneficial microorganisms, bacteria, nematodes, enzymes and organic matter that you want to add to the soil.

Unlike compost tea however, the goal in brewing manure tea is not to increase the good bacteria or multiply microorganisms, but merely to pull the nutrients out of the manure and dissolve them into a liquid 'tea'.

Therefore, the brewing method for manure tea is fairly simple and doesn't take long at all.

I decided to mix up a batch of chicken poop tea and also a batch of horse manure tea since that's what we've got.

What are the Benefits of Chicken Manure Tea?

Chicken manure is about the best source of nitrogen and other nutrients, and has one of the highest NPK (Nitrogen-Phosporous-Potassium) ratios of any manure, but horse, cow or goat manure or even rabbit droppings also makes nice fertilizer.

Tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage and watermelons specifically benefit from some extra nitrogen in the soil.

However too much nitrogen and not enough calcium can lead to blossom end rot, so you also want to sprinkle some crushed eggshells around the base of your plants susceptible to the malady, such as tomatoes, cucumbers etc.

(Again, thank you chickens for your contribution there!)

How to Brew Chicken Manure Tea

What you Need:

  • Large plastic pail
  • Old pillowcase
  • Aged chicken* (or horse/cow/goat/rabbit) droppings
  • Piece of ribbon or twine

*Because of the high nitrogen level of chicken poop, it is important that the chicken manure be aged or composted before using so it doesn't burn your plants when you're using it directly on your garden.

Instructions | 
First I made a 'tea bag' for the manure. I used two old pillowcases and filled one about 1/3 full with some chicken poop and partially composted straw from the bottom of the coop litter, figuring this was the oldest poop, having sat since September.

I filled the second pillow case with the oldest, most dried-up horse manure I could find. In the case of horse manure, it won't burn plants, but I figured the old manure would have fewer potential pathogens. 

Remember, this is animal waste we're talking about!  And there's less chance of pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, etc. being present in older manure.

I tied a piece of pretty blue baling twine around the neck of each pillow case (manure tea can be pretty too!) and then placed each in a large plastic pail.

You can use a bucket, trash can, whatever....

Then I then added water, covering the pillowcase contents completely so I had approximately 1/3 manure or poop and 2/3 water.

You will want to keep introducing oxygen to the solution so pathogens and bad bacteria won't grow by dunking the pillowcase up and down a few times a day. Let the pail sit in a sunny location uncovered for a week or so.

Your resulting "tea" should resemble iced tea in color when it's done.

After the week is up, remove the pillowcase from the pail and empty the solid contents back into your compost pile.

How to Use Chicken Manure Tea

To use your tea as liquid fertilizer, you'll need to dilute it a bit.

Dilute your tea, 1 part tea to 4 parts water and apply it to your garden. I used a watering can and applied both the horse manure and chicken poop tea to our vegetable garden.

Because of the potential for pathogens, don't apply manure tea to edible root crops (such as potatoes, beets, carrots, etc.) and don't apply it to leaves you will be consuming (such as lettuce, kale, spinach or other greens). 

Wash your hands after applying and store the pail somewhere clearly marked!

Manure tea is also great for bushes, shrubs and flowers.

Note: Manure tea is most useful when given to young seedlings and plants for a boost of nitrogen to help them grow. 

Apply the manure tea once a week using a watering can or hose sprayer attachment around the base and root area of the plants until they start to flower.

Reference sources:
What is Manure Tea

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