Brewing manure tea is a sin. Not a religious sin, but an organic gardening sin.
Manure Tea Nutrients
Manure has a fairly low level of available nutrients. The most important nutrient for most plants is nitrogen and the nitrogen level is about 1%. When compared to a lawn fertilizer that has 15 – 30% nitrogen, manure is almost devoid of readily available nutrients. Manure tea has even less nitrogen than manure.
For more information on manure tea and compost have a look at the Compost Tea post.
The Magic of Manure
The real magic of manure are its long term effects. A large part of manure is undigested organic material as explained in my post Organic Fertilizer – What is it’s Real Value? Over time this will break down and provide a small but steady source of nutrients. Nitrogen is slowly released for up to 4 years after applying manure to your garden.
This slow digestion of manure is carried out by microbes (ie micro-organisms) in the soil. They eat, poop and die. Both dead microbes and microbe poop; let’s call that ‘microbe juice’, provides a source of nutrients for your plants over a long period of time.
Microbe juice also glues soil particles together forming good soil structure. Good soil structure is responsible for that wonderful friable black stuff all gardeners dream about. This is the real value of adding manure to the garden – it feeds the microbes which in turn juice up your soil improving the quality of your soil.
When you make manure tea the real value is left in the bottom of the bucket – the remaining manure. Forget the tea and just spread the manure.
1) Photo Source: Wikipedia – Public Domain