In may last couple of posts on manure tea and compost tea I explained why there is little or no reason to brew the tea. I am sure that I have not convinced all of you since the web is full of stories promoting manure tea as a good thing for your plants. If you want to brew some tea it probably will not harm you or your plants, but it could; see the bottom section of Compost Tea.
If you must brew some tea, please do it intelligently. Don’t use commercial products!
Commercial Manure Tea Bags
Let’s consider a much hipped product called Authentic Haven Brand (pictured above).
This company takes a small amount of manure and packages it in a handy little bag that resembles a large tea bag. They sell 3 tea bags for $12.95. You can get 3 gift wrapped tea bags for only 19.95 – my wife will be so pleased with this gift. Here honey – I bought you some horse dung.
They recommend one tea bag for 5 gallons of water. That will produce a tea of much lower strength than the usual recommendations for making manure tea (1/3 manure to 2/3 water) which already produces a tea of low nutrient value.
The company makes the following claims about their product:
1) It conditions soil. Not true. The few nutrients in the tea will have no effect on the soil’s condition.
2) There is an implication that the tea increases root mass. That is not likely, given the very low levels of nutrients provided by the tea. Besides any fertilizer will increase root mass.
3) Chemical fertilizers are dangerous to your plants health. Not true. The nutrients in manure tea are exactly the same chemicals as found in commercial fertilizers–see What is Organic Fertilizer for more details. The author clearly does not understand the basic chemistry of plant nutrients.
They don’t say much else about their product. There is no nutrient analysis – they are probably embarrassed about the results. There is no reported study to back up their claims.
Ridiculous Price for Manure
They don’t even tell you how much manure is in each bag. Based on the pictures I would guess that each bag holds about $0.05 worth of manure. I can get a delivered trailer full for $45. At $4.32 a tea bag, that is about a 10,000% mark up. That is a crazy price to pay for a small handful of manure.
Given that the scientific evidence shows manure tea does very little for your plants, why would anyone spend so much money for so little manure?
Manure is great for the garden–don’t waste your time making tea.