Make liquid fertilizer at home for $0

Most people buy fertilizer at the garden store but you can make it yourself, using Stinging Nettle, a plant that grows wild everywhere in Israel at this time of year.

The final product – Liquid Nettle Fertilizer

“Nettle tea” gives your plants nitrogen, chlorophyll, magnesium, sulfur, iron, potassium, copper, zinc and calcium.

Nettle Tea Fertilizer Recipe

Step 1: Find some Stinging Nettle. It is most likely growing now in your yard, parking lot, nearby abandoned lot, or roadside. Use the pictures in this album to identify it, or look at other images online if you’re not sure.

Stinging nettle growing on the edge of a public walkway next to my home in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Step 2: Pick enough to fill your container, which can be any size or shape, as long as it has a lid.Warning: Stinging nettle stings, but is not dangerous. Wear gloves or a bag over your hand while picking. A few hours after picking, it looses its sting.

Nettle has tiny stinging needles on the top surface of the leaves only. This distinguishes it from thistle, where the edges of the leaves are spiky. The surest way to identify nettle is to touch the leaves. The sting really doesn’t hurt that badly if it’s just a small area on your finger and it goes away within 10 minutes.

Step 3: Fill the container with water. On a rainy day, you can just leave it outside and let Hashem fill it up for you. When it’s full, cover it and set it aside.

Step 4: Stir the liquid every day or two for 1-2 weeks. It will ferment fast, especially in warm weather. There are two signs it’s brewing: it will bubble when you stir it and it will start to smell rank. After a few weeks, the fermentation process will be complete.

After a few weeks it will look like this. Like most fertilizers, it’s not winning any beauty contests. Nor aroma contests – just be glad you can’t smell it over the Internet! But if you’ve ever smelled the fish or seaweed based liquid fertilizers sold commercially, you’ll know this is the real deal!

How to use Nettle Tea as Liquid Fertilizer

Strain out the solids. Then dilute the liquid 1:10 and pour it on the roots of fruit trees, summer vegetables and flowers.

Don’t overdo it. It’s strong stuff! Use a bit now, and store the rest for boosting your plants all summer long.

That’s it! Like with all fermentation, the microbes are doing all the hard work. We just create the conditions and watch.

I recommend you go through the photo album to better understand the process.

Got any questions? Just ask in the comments!

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My name is Naomi and this is my tiny little farm in the heart of the rapidly growing city of Beit Shemesh, Israel. I enjoy growing, making and processing as much of my families own food and household essentials as possible, while nurturing a biodiverse ecosystem filled with beauty and life. 

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