Fertiliser! - Project 5

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We all know the nutritional benefits of watering a diluted comfrey or nettle ‘tea’ on our precious crop plants, but I’ve always thought there must be a less stinky way of preparing it than the usual ‘open air’ method: piling shredded leaves and stalks into a bin or bucket, adding water and a weight and leaving behind the shed for a few weeks - you wouldn’t want to put it where you often go as the stench of rotting leaves is stomach-churningly horrendous!

Browsing my latest copy of Kitchen Garden magazine (August 2011) I was therefore pleased to find that someone somewhere has come up with a space-saving solution to this rather pongy problem: the fertiliser tube.

And so, giving all credit to KG, here’s how you do it!

  • Take a piece of drainpipe about 4’ in length and attach it to the side of the shed or a wall.  Make sure you can easily reach the top of the pipe; the other end needs to be well off the floor so you can get a bucket or watering can underneath it.
  • Seal the base of the tube with an end stopper (available from builders’ merchants) in the flat end of which you will have drilled a smallish hole.
  • Place the collecting receptacle (bucket, can etc) underneath the hole in the end of the pipe.
  • Take an old bottle that will easily fit into the pipe and fill with water or sand. 
  • Tie a long piece of string to the neck of the bottle.
  • Cut some comfrey or nettle leaves and stuff them into the pipe, ramming down with a long cane.
  • Drop the bottle into the top of the pipe, keeping a good hold on the end of the string.  The bottle acts as a weight and presses the leaves down.
  • In a week or two, a thick brown liquid will ooze out of the hole in the end stopper and into the bucket or can beneath. 
  • This can be diluted with water at the rate of 15:1 and used to feed your fruit and veg.

As soon as I get a chance (probably a week or two into the summer holidays), I’m going to make my own for the plot, especially as I have a plentiful supply of comfrey (5 plants) and lots of nettles too.

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