Lower Lovetts Farm

Richards Homemade Fertilizers

Published 11 March 2013

I use three liquids, each has their own use and has slightly different properties.
Comfrey Liquid

This is used for polytunnel or greenhouse feeding. It is a pretty all-round feed and is good for the general health (rather than growth) of roots and fruits. Although the rate of feed seems a lot, I feed every day as below. I think it’s better to give a little every day rather than a lot once a week and then water it out for the remainder of the week.

I pick the comfrey just before it flowers and cram it into a water butt. You cannot cram it down hard enough, so get into the tub and stamp it down with your wellingtons. I then fill the butt with water to just cover the comfrey. Make sure you put the lid on (it will smell vile in a few weeks) and wait. Stir, if you can, once a week or as best you can to start with. It will be difficult to stir at first but after a week or two when the green matter starts breaking down it will get easier. Wait until all the leaves have disappeared off the stems and you are just left with the thick stems floating in a watery/green liquid. This normally takes 6 to 8 weeks depending on how warm it is. Tip: If you put the tub in the sun it works quicker. You can start using it at this stage.

When you get a green sludge (even more vile smelling a month or so later) I bottle it in 75cl bottles, old screw cap wine bottles. One 75cl bottle will do four watering cans of 2 gallons per can - i..e. one litre to every 10.5 gallons of water (50 litres) or 1:50.

Water your pots as normal. 

Tip: (1) For tomatoes and chillies, if you leave the watering can full of water in a green house, or just in the sun, the water will heat up and you will be watering with hot liquid, which the plants much prefer.

(2) Add the comfrey liquid to the hot liquid when you want to do the watering.

(3) These liquids are said not to store well. I assume they lose their nutrient value over time but, if any is left over at the end of the year, I bottle it up and use it to start next year with. I figure it’s better than nothing.

Stinging Nettles Liquid

Exactly the same procedure and watering rates as for comfrey liquid.

Nettles are best for growth as they add nitrogen, so start the year with nettle liquid to get things going. Nettles also come out before comfrey, so you can get a brew on earlier in the year.

Wood Ash Liquid

Fill a bucket half full with wood ash. Make sure the wood ash is made of just plain burnt wood which does not have paint or preservatives on it. Fill the bucket nearly full with water and stir for three weeks. Drain off the liquid and leave to settle.  This is the conventional way, but I actually do it slightly differently.  When I have added the water I start peeing into the bucket for a period of a week or two - fortunately I can do this, but others may have to add in the form of slops - then proceed as above.

Wood ash liquid is very very alkaline and urine is acid so it makes the final liquid a more balanced product. Urine is also a good fertilizer in its own right so you are making the resulting liquid a more balance product. I was amazed to find that a Californian university decided this mixture could be made into a commercial product.

When you bottle it, bottle it with as little of the sediment as possible. It’s surprising how even a little will block nozzles and add a layer to the soil on the top of the pot and hinder absorption. Use as for comfrey i.e. 50:1 but mostly for plants that have fruit on and do not use too often. With tomatoes I use it once or twice a week, but by August when the tomatoes are at their best I use it every day for a short period. The liquid is very alkaline and will eventually turn the leaves yellow (lime induced chlorosis) but it gives you great fruit. If you want to keep the plants after a prolonged period of watering with wood ash liquid, add some Epsom salts to the pots and the green will return.