Manure Tea is an Organic Sin

Home » Blog » Manure Tea is an Organic Sin

Robert Pavlis

Brewing manure tea is a sin. Not a religious sin, but an organic gardening sin.

manure tea is an organic sin
manure tea is an organic 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.

Microbe Science for Gardeners Book, by Robert Pavlis

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

If you like this post, please share .......

Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

12 thoughts on “Manure Tea is an Organic Sin”

  1. A brussel net full of fresh horse muck suspended in a 40gallon drum.
    Water tomatoes everyday undiluted.
    My plants make me feel like “Jack and the beanstalk”.

  2. A lot of horse hay in Texas has been sprayed for weeds, usually grazon. This won’t harm the horse, but will survive being pooped an composted. When put on the garden, it will kill any broadleaf plant, like tomatoes, until it biodegrades , usually several years.

  3. Manure has high levels of salt. Rotted vegetation makes better compost for salt-sensitive plants. Same stuff that goes into a hay burner, which obviously speeds up break down, but adds salt.

  4. Thanks for the input. Started hauling home horse manure by the silage wagon full. Is there such a thing as too much. I’m sprinkling it over the permanent beds and was thinking about tea. The ground was farmed until it turned into sand but the last ten years has made a difference.

    • Definitely – you can have too much manure. Too much can be quite harmful to soil. Too many nutrients, and a build up or high levels of organic mater which in the long term lead to more nutrients. Use an inch or two at most each year.

      • Does the manure ( I have tons of horse manure) need to be aged first or anything else? Currently I just pile it up and let it be. The oldest pile is now 3 years old.

        • Fresh manure can have too much nitrogen and burn plants. For this reason it is a good idea to age it. However horse manure is less likely to burn plants than other types. One year old is aged enough.


Please leave a comment either here or in our Facebook Group: Garden Fundamentals