Tag: gardening

Free fertiliser from stinging Nettle tea!

nettle tea free fertiliser

Steeping nettle tea, a FREE fertiliser

A couple of weeks ago we were watching Monty Don one Sunday morning on BBC 2’s Gardeners World making a free fertiliser. He was talking through his “Jobs for the weekend” and was highlighting the benefits of stinging nettles being fantastic plant fertilizer and just how easy it was to make and would cost absolutely nothing!

Did he say FREE fertiliser from stinging nettles?

Well that was it a man on a mission, just how to make nettle tea, my first free fertiliser! I was determined to give it go as there are always thousands of stinging nettles nearby. Plus there are no unpleasant chemicals or additives to worry about, plain and simple nitrogen rich fertiliser (also contains magnesium, sulphur and iron). Though I do feel a bit of plumb, as I know my wife Sherrie already knew of it, but bless her she kept silent and let me carry on, but to me it was FREE! The perfect scrimpers prize, the only cost was a little of my time.

Is the fertiliser suitable for all plants and vegetables?

My research suggests that stinging nettle tea can be a good all round fertilizer in moderation, but too much nitrogen can lead to an abundance of healthy dark green leaves. However, for healthier fruit, flower production and a higher yield, the plants will need a balance of phosphorus and potash. So don’t over feed your plants only with your nettle tea!

Tip: Nitrogen rich plants, such as beans, peas & onions won’t respond quite as well to the tea.

Schoolboy error, must cover your steeping nettles

Monty’s explanation was a little brief on storing, so I thought it was a case of fill a bucket with stinging nettles, fill with water and leave. Oooops! Yes it did work, but we got plenty of flies, floating bloated maggots an all sorts yuck!! Next time, I will simply cover it to reduce the floating wriggling debris; though I know it will still smell pretty bad.

Didn’t Monty add Comfrey into his free fertiliser?

Yes indeed he did, but our comfrey plant was not big enough and it is being used for the compost bin at present, so we went for 100% pure wild stinging nettle brew! We were keen to try our own flavour of tea. All this talking about tea is getting me thirsty lol.

Sequence strip of how we made nettle tea fertilizer

Our quick n easy steps

Venture out and source plenty of nettles (sustainably)

Well it was a doddle, off we went for a walk with two carrier bags, two pruning shears and 2 pairs of thick gloves (don’t forget any of these lol) off on the hunt for nettles. You never have to look far before finding hoards of them, but when you come to harvesting the nettles you must make sure you leave the roots intact. We found out that it’s illegal to just pull them up, as it is defined as stealing, but if you are to chop them down (or *cough* heavily prune) they can still grow back next year. Who would have thought for a weed you could get a hefty fine or a stint in her majesty’s finest prison.

Let’s get making some smelly nettle fertiliser…..for FREEEEEE
  1. Stuff all your nettles into large bucket, making sure to break the stems and crunch the leaves as you go. Push them down and crush them with your boot.
  2. Fill the bucket with water, so the nettles are covered. Many gardeners recommend using rainwater over tap water, plus it’s free!
  3. Put your bucket away from your house/communal areas, as it will really stink! (Make sure you cover it).
  4. We left ours steeping for 4 weeks, but I have read online that with a lid it can be ready in as little as two weeks. We plan on trying this next time, so I will report back once we know.
  5. Many gardeners recommend stirring occasionally.
  6. Once ready, strain your tea 🙂 by remove all the floating plant debris and put it in your compost bin (great compost activator)
  7. Dilute the nettle tea, one part to ten (1:10) when you next water your plants. It works a charm, especially for nitrogen hungry plants!
Has anyone else tried Monty’s method or a variation of?

Our nettle tea worked wonders, especially for our Quinoa which was showing signs of nitrogen deficiency, within days it looked noticeably better. With the added comfrey added into the mix I am sure the tea will be an even more effective fertiliser.

Let us know how you get on brewing some nettle tea free fertiliser and please share any tips/tricks, as we are always keen to learn.

Simple compost aerator from toilet rolls

compost aerator

Aerator thrown into the compost bin

A homemade compost aerator is a simple, sustainable and very green trick to help speed up your composting using old toilet rolls. The old trusty toilet roll, there are so many things one can do with them in addition to finding their way into the recycling bin!

We have previously used them as bio-degradable planters for our seedlings or brown mulch for our wormery to name a couple of great uses. Though our dog has really found a love for left over toilet rolls, she fetches them from the bathroom and brings them to us and sits down, asking for permission before chewing it to pieces. Ever so cute!

UPDATE (04/07/13): Picture of the toilet roll terror added to the bottom of this post.

Scrimpers choice! Don’t have to spend a penny.

homemade toilet roll compost aerators

5 Simple steps using our old toilet rolls as compost aerators

We came across a post a few months back about creating toilet roll aerators; now for the life of me I cannot find the site to be referenced here. If anyone else can provide the link, I will add it to this post.

The post highlighted the issues with getting plenty of air into the compost mix to aid the bacteria, to increase the speed in which the matter breaks down. Normally we would do our best to turn it over, but it can be quite difficult to do at times, unless you have a rotating composter tumbler or a Dolmen Compost Mixer and Aerator. But as we are trying to be frugal scrimpers, keeping costs low and making the most of what you have, we thought this is worth a try.

The author pointed out the benefits of creating small air pockets within your compost and that they could be created by folding in the ends of your old toilet rolls and chucking them onto the heap and covering.

Easy peasy homemade compost aerators

Without trying to waffle too much, in a couple of simple quick and easy steps we created our first compost aerator tool:

  1. Fold in the top inch of both sides of one end of the toilet roll
  2. Then fold in the two flaps to partially close the end of the tube to create a little structure.
  3. Do the same to the other end
  4. Voila, done!
  5. Throw them into your compost bin and gently mix a little compost on top.

They will eventually get crushed (obviously), but they should continue to act as small air pockets until they rot away. I believe the idea is to continually keep adding them as you add more matter to break down.

Have you any results to share with your compost aerator?

Despite our compost looking good on our last bin raid, we have only been doing this for a couple of months, so we have nothing conclusive to add yet. Though each time we have a spare toilet roll, we have been adding them into our compost bin and on occasion yes we have been giving one to our dog to chew lol.

Has anyone any experience with this trick?

We are interested to find out how effective this trick is for anyone else’s compost breakdown or if they are any other great composting ideas.

UPDATE: Toilet Roll Terror – Asking for permission to chew
Our dog holding a toilet roll

Toilet roll terror

A couple of days after I posted this, we were sat outside in the sunshine and she came up, sat infront of Sherrie carefully holding her precious find. Then she will lift her paw ever so gently to ask if she can have it. I could not resist adding this cute little pic.

 

Fun moving soil to the back garden

tonne of soil

Shifting a tonne of soil

This looks like it’s going to be hard work; it’s a lot of soil to shift from the roadside to our back garden lol. We knew when we ordered a tonne of soil that we would have to move it to the back garden ‘manually’ ourselves with a couple of spades and a wheelbarrow, as we have no access for deliveries. Damn!!

All these great ideas always seem to result in a little missing forethought on just how we are going to move the materials from point A to B. The rest of the construction/ideas have been planned and thought through, just not the deliveries. It was only a couple of weeks ago we had to shift 402 bricks into the back garden using exactly the same old trusty wheelbarrow, our work horse! Since then it’s carried 5 bags of gravel, 2 bags of cement and at least 10 bags of sand. It would be nice to think that it carried all of this on it’s own, but NO someone had to lift and push it.

Oh well, nothing like a load of hard graft! Just hope the tyre holds out under all the pressure, its feeling a bit soft lol.

 

 

Heritage seed planting session

Seed trays

A couple of seed trays crammed on our windowsill

Well with this miserable weather outside, we thought today we should plant some more of our new heritage seeds! Though we are seriously lacking with available window space, we cannot put all of the seeds out in the greenhouse either as it’s still too cold at the moment. So we have been trying to plant our seeds in separate sittings, this was the second sitting and the rest of the seeds will have to wait until April. So Sherrie, her mother and i sat there in a mini production line, cleaning seed trays, filling them with soil, planting and labelling for a couple hours.

Why are you planting heritage seeds?

We decided to move over to heritage seeds for many reasons, which we will go into more detail in a future post. But to keep things frugal, heritage seeds in some cases are cheaper to buy, taste better and much easier to get a new set of seeds for next year. Yes they are not as disease resistant as F1 hybrid varieties and maybe a lower yield but they are certainly the better more natural choice in our opinion, especially if you are scrimping!

Where did you source your heritage seeds?

After looking around for a good well stocked heritage seed company, we came across The Real Seed Catalogue and so far have placed a couple of orders with them, this is our first year on heritage seeds, so we are excited to see how well they do. We will keep posting away with status updates as our little green babies grow!

What are your thoughts on heritage seeds? We are keen to learn as much as possible.

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