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Make your own liquid feeds

Liquid feeds give plants a quick boost of nutrient. They are particularly useful for greedy feeders like tomatoes that are grown in pots.

The most commonly used liquid feed is comfrey and it is easy to make your own. You can also make a nitrogen rich liquid feed from weeds like nettles or ground elder.

Comfrey for liquid feedComfrey is a very deep rooted plant containing lots of trace elements important for healthy plant growth, as well as high levels of potassium, essential for flower and fruit development, and phosphorous, needed for root growth.

The best comfrey to use is Russian Comfrey as this is particularly high in nutrients. The variety Bocking 14 is sterile so it won’t spread round your garden.
You can use wild comfrey which may have purple or yellow flowers. Be sure to cut this just before it begins to flower so that there are no seeds present. The leaves are also at their most nutritious at this point.
Cut the comfrey leaves and stems about 10cm above the ground. After 2-3 months they will have regrown enough for you to take another cutting.

To make your own liquid comfrey feed you will need
A plastic dustbin or large, lidded plastic bucket
A bowl or small bucket
Blocks or bricks

A comfrey barrel does not have to be in full sun and it will smell a bit so keep it away from the house.

Drill 3 large holes in the centre of the bottom of the dustbin or bucket.
Raise the bin up on bricks or blocks so that you can slip the bucket or bowl underneath.
Cut comfrey leaves and stems and fill the bin.
Weigh down the cut comfrey in the bin with a board or old lid with a brick on top. It is important that the comfrey is pressed down.
Leave the comfrey leaves to wilt and rot. After 3-4 weeks a dark brown, treacly liquid will start to collect in the bucket or bowl underneath. This is your liquid comfrey feed.
Dilute it 20:1 with water and water round tomatoes and pot grown strawberries or cucumbers.

You can also make a liquid feed from nettles. Wear gloves and make sure you cut the nettles before they have set any seed. You will need a large bucket with no holes. Pack it with cut nettles, fill with water and put a brick on top to keep the nettles under the surface. A lid on the bucket stops evaporation, keeps in the smell and keeps the nettles in the dark. This helps to drown them more quickly.
After 4 weeks the nettles will be dead, so you can strain off the liquid and put the gungy mess in your compost bin. Nettle juice is very high in nitrogen, so particularly useful for leafy crops. Dilute 5 parts water: 1 part nettle juice.
If you are digging up quantities of ground elder you can extract the goodness from that too by drowning it in a bucket of water. [Because you are only using the liquid there is no danger that bits of root will be spread round your garden.] After 4 or 5 weeks the roots will start to go slimy at the edge, will be ‘dead’ and can safely be composted.

Your garden can provide you with liquid fertilisers as well as wonderful home made compost.

Which? Gardening has conducted trials on home made liquid feeds and found that comfrey liquid was as good as ready-made bought feed. Chemical analysis showed the comfrey to be particularly high in potassium and nitrogen.
Feeds made from nettles were not so nutritious. So you would need to make and use these liberally. But turning perennial weed roots in to liquid feed is a great way to get rid of them.

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