Use the KP’s wild plants to make your own fertilizer
Just like our bodies, plants need a variety of vitamins and minerals to help them grow. The healthiest plants are fed just the right amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium and magnesium along with many other trace minerals.
There are countless fertilizers on the market promising to grow the best plants, but let’s face it, fertilizers can get expensive.
Biodynamic gardening methods offer us a natural way to feed our plants in the form of plant teas. In fact, there are three plants that grow in abundance on the KP that you can use to feed your garden. We often think of these as weeds but, in reality, they are three highly beneficial plants for the garden and human body alike.
This time of year, you will see tall shoots of white-and-purple, bell-shaped flowers all over the KP. This is comfrey, one of the best natural medicines on the planet. It is high in potassium and all of the trace minerals. It contains the highest nutrient levels in the beginning of its flowering stage, which is the best time to harvest the leaves.
You can add comfrey to the compost pile for a nutrient boost. You can also add it straight to the garden as mulch.
Make a potent liquid manure by soaking 2 ¼ pounds of comfrey leaves in 2 ¼ gallons of rainwater. Let this ferment for four to 10 days, stirring occasionally, and strain before using. Make a foliar feed by diluting one part of the comfrey mixture to 19 parts water.
Although they are the bane of every hiker’s existence, stinging nettles are one of the most beneficial plants on the planet. They are rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Collect the leaves and stems right before they flower, when nutrient levels are at their peak.
To stimulate root growth, create a liquid manure. Soak 4 ounces of nettle leaves in 1 ¾ pints of water for four to 10 days in the sun. Strain and dilute one part of the mixture in 10 parts water. Spray the crops and the soil.
To repel aphids, create a cold extract by soaking 4 ounces of nettle leaves in 1 ¾ pints of cold water for 24 to 36 hours, and spray your plants.
Dandelion flowers are packed with calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and silica. A tea made of dandelion flowers is beneficial to use in the beginning of a plant’s grow cycle. Spraying the plants with this tea creates stronger leaves, promotes disease-resistance and improves flavor.
To make the tea, infuse a handful of flowers picked early in the morning, before they are fully open, in 1 ¾ pints of hot water for five to 10 minutes. Filter off the concentrate and dilute one part of the dandelion tea to four parts of rainwater.
Take a look around your backyard. You very well may have all of these plants at your disposal. Instead of spraying them with poisonous weed killers, use them as the beneficial plant medicines that they are.
Monica Rakowski owns KP Indoor Garden Store in Key Center and blogs at thenaturelifeproject.com.