When plants are having trouble making it from one square meal to the next, it may be time to pour them a cup of tea - manure tea. This nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer is easy to make, in any size batch. Here's how:
Large Garden Version:
Shovel equal parts of fresh chicken, cow, and horse manure into a 100-lb burlap bag and suspend it in a 60-gallon drum filled with water. Cover the barrel and allow it to steep for 3 weeks. Remove the bag, add its contents to the compost pile, then fill the barrel to the top with fresh water. Water
your plants with the tea.
Small Garden Version:
Put a couple of shovelfuls of manure into a burlap bag and steep it in a tub of water for 4 to 7 days. The resulting liquid can be used full strength or diluted.
Even if you don't have a source of fresh animal manure, you can still make a nutrient-rich foliar spray or soil drench by filling a bucket with half water, half compost and steeping it for several hours. The liquid goes on the plants and the compost goes back in the pile.
Plant a Row for the Hungry
There's a lot about gardening that makes us feel good: getting out into the fresh air, laboring until our muscles ache, perfecting our own ripe tomatoes. For the past several years, gardeners across the country have been doing something else that feels good participating in Plant a Row for the Hungry, a national campaign organized to get homegrown produce to the people who need it most, the homeless and the poor.
The idea is simple. Gardeners are notorious for having vegetable plots that produce more than they could ever eat. Now they can donate their gardens' overabundance to local organizations that distribute food to the needy. If you're interested and don't know a local food collection point, call the nationwide network of food banks, Second Harvest, at (312) 263-2303.
The Plant a Row program was launched in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association of America. For more information, write the association at 10210 Leatherleaf Ct., Manassas, VA 20111, call (703) 257-1032, or visit their Web site: http://www.gwaa.org/.