I’ve been making anaerobic liquid fertilizer for years now.
It’s become such a normal part of my gardening that I sometimes forget how rabid people get about aerobic compost tea and composting with “good” bacteria as opposed to “bad” bacteria.
My experiments with anaerobic composting in barrels of water started with weed and manure tea left to steep, then kept expanding from there until they hit the fully fledged corn-feeding uber-corn-boosting method I describe in Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting.
For a long time I felt like I was standing alone on a high and solitary peak of knowledge, isolated from the rest of the gardening and farming world… until I came across JADAM Organic Farming, also known as Korean Natural Farming.
I just finished reading that book, which you can find here on Amazon.
A sizeable part of the JADAM method relies on – you guessed it – barrels of anaerobic organic liquid fertilizer, based on ancient methods of farming.
It turns out I was sharing my lofty promontory with a band of Koreans who staked it out centuries ago.
It’s nice to have company!
In my most recent video, I demonstrate how I am turning wild cucumber vines into fertilizer for my garden:
If life gives you weeds, feed them to your plants!
God provides what we need – we often just miss it.
Have a wonderful Sunday everyone.
* * *
Save Me, O My God
Psalm 3: A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. (ESV)
3 O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
Hi , I sent a pic of my stinging vb….. to gmail act.
aside from my cryptic note above, I also wanted to say I enjoyed the post , video, and of course the psalm. I am glad to hear you are feeling better from the food issue. I wish all the best , all the time. I tried a couple of time s using saltwater I got from theocean off of new Smyrna to make the potion from Korea… but I never got it right. I will try again in the future as long as it doesn’t slip my mind.
If we put weeds with seeds in it, does this destroy the weed seeds?
It destroys some of them but not all. A few plants create seeds that will sit in water for months and still germinate. Nature is nuts.
So we just moved onto this beautiful old homestead with tons of rain barrels, problem was that they were all full of weeds and god knows what, so after dumping most of them out and a good rain I put the mulch from the bottom of the barrels on the garlic patch they had, think I killed them?
It’ll probably be fine unless it was really a strong batch. Sometimes the fermentation process can make materials that need to be diluted to not hurt plants. You may also end up with giant garlic, though! Watch and wait.
Are any weeds not recommended? Ive got tons of pokeweed, tropical soda apple, lantana, some huge thorny thistle that has purple dandelion type flowers, dog fennel and tons of others seasonally. Will the poisonous weeds cause my produce to be poisonous? Any idea which ones might kill or repel insects but not hurt us?
I use them all – the bacteria should break down everything toxic. Many of those weeds will deter insects. Just don’t water directly on plants you will be consuming the leaves from, such as lettuce, cabbage, etc., except when they’re small. Not near harvest time. Great work!
I made this brew after watching the video. Wow! It worked great! We just went 2 weeks with no rain in Kansas City. The soil retained more moisture and none of the plants showed any distress. I am really impressed.
what about mosquitoes breeding in the water? the plastic bag lid doesn’t seem like it would keep them out.
If they get in and breed, I dump the barrel in the gardens and start over.
I have a batch that has been going for 3 months, and have yet to see 1 mosquito.
Remember: mosquitos like water, not concentrated teas or fertilizers. I don’t think the larvae can thrive in the tea, which is why I likely haven’t seen mosquitoes.
The biggest problem you’ll likely have is fruit flies, depending on the type of mix you utilize. I do find some fly larvae on the surface as well, but I just stir them into the mix and they contribute to the ferment.
Very interesting method David, thanks for posting. A few questions if you don’t mind. I live in Green Bay, WI, so a shorter growing season and obviously super cold winters. Is this still a method I could implement? Any tips or modifications I should put into practice? (Specifically wondering how I can use the brew since I’d need to begin it once the weather warms and it would take some time to ferment, so am I looking at an end-of-season finished product? Does it keep?) Thank you so much for your input– a newbie over here and I LOVE your material!!
Thank you, Katie.
All you really need is a couple of warm weeks to rot things down. Less if you just throw in some chicken manure in the bottom and do a manure tea instead. If you grow comfrey, it will rot and make great fertilizer in just a few days. Also, I would use it again after winter. I can’t see it really “spoiling,” as the minerals in the mix aren’t likely to go anywhere. I’m not a scientist, though.
Thank you for the speedy response! Can’t wait to start this and freak out my husband some more.
Arrrg…I am having a problem with my weed tea…last year my potted plants did not like it so well, this year I had some of the same issues…when I ph tested it, it was 10-11ph. I looked up the weeds we had put in most of: plantain and sheep sorrel, both alkaline. I tried putting in vinegar, acid milk keifer, urine and nothing is dropping the ph. It is in a galvanized garbage can. Any ideas? I want it to work because my sweet husband will pull weeds for tea.