Kitchen Gardening

Natural Fertilizer Boosts Organic Gardening

Organic gardeners are always on the lookout for all-natural, multi-purpose products that can be used to improve their gardening efforts.

Authentic Haven Brand "moo poo" tea bags make it easy for organic gardeners to brew the all-natural soil conditioner.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

In the category of true garden confessions, I have to admit I’ve tried just about every kind of organic product that could help me grow a healthy vegetable garden. I’ve saved banana peels, coffee grounds and eggshells to use as fertilizers to boost soil health and feed hungry soil critters. I’ve even walked many a horse trail looking for well-aged “apples” to collect for making buckets of my own manure tea.

I still use kitchen waste as natural fertilizers for my organic vegetable gardening efforts, but I no longer have to search for natural horse products to make my own manure tea. Instead, I turn to an all-natural soil conditioner that’s already packaged for me in neat cotton bags.

These manure tea bags are produced by Annie Haven, a southern California entrepreneur, who raises cattle and packages well-aged manure in over-sized tea bags. Authentic Haven Brand “moo poo tea” comes from livestock that’s free of hormone-added grains, antibiotics and pesticides. Organic gardeners can be assured there are no additives or fillers in her products. The manure is still harvested and packaged by hand, just like it’s been done on the Haven ranch since 1924.

The tea bags make it easy to turn the solid product into a liquid fertilizer. Just like making a giant pot of sun tea, gardeners place a manure tea bag into a five-gallon container and let it steep from 1-3 days. After the tea is steeped, fill a watering can and water plants like usual.

The best part of using these tea bags over making my own tea from scavenged products? It’s less messy and there are no unpleasant smells from the tea.

I’ve used manure tea when watering my container vegetable garden, and was surprised at the results. Within a few days I could see a difference in the health of the plants by way of improved leaf color and stem strength. Over the course of the summer I saw an overall larger vegetable yield. Because the tea improves the soil, it helps build strong root systems that makes it easier for plants to absorb the nutrients they need.

In addition to using manure tea in my container and vegetable garden, I used it to water seedlings and reduce transplant shock, too. This nutrient-rich “fertili-tea” was so beneficial in the garden, I plan to use it through the winter for watering my houseplants, too.

(Note: I received complementary packets of Authentic Haven Brand soil conditioner tea for this review.)

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