DIY foliar plant feed
Various recipes are available on the internet for making plant feed and biofertilisers. Interest is growing in farm scale application for non chemical fertilisers you can make yourself (see Events for upcoming 2/3 days in Sussex with Eugenio Gras on Biofertilsers and DIY chromatography testing for fertioity).
From the simplest (take some Nori seaweed sheets and shred into a bottle topped upbwith non chlorinated water, steep for a week, dilute and spray on houseplants), to the full 6 week fermentaion job in large barrels taught by Eugenio Gras of the Regenerative Agriculture movement, there is a llot of information available.
An easy one to experiment with would be comfrey and brown sugar. This is from Drake Asaurus in Hawaii and exploits the ability of brown sugar to extert osmotic action on greenstuff to extract enymes, plant hormones and nutrients through the cell walls. It's a bit like lacto fermentation with salt. The natural yeats on the plant ferment using the sugar as energy, and in 3-7 days, the feed can be starined off and used, diluted, as foliar feed and soil nutrient source.
Fermented liquid plant food
by Drake Asaurus of Natural Farming, Hawaii.
This type of plant feed contains complex enzymes and growth hormones as well as NPK
The water soluble nutrients are easily taken up by plants
You can also make a feed directly from the plant to be fed to make the feed specific to that crop
Gather material before dew evaporates if possible, before too much UV hits the plant. The growing tips have the highest concentration of nutrients before sun gets up.
Gather enough material - half a bucket is more than enough for a five and a half gallon jar.
Shred it a bit. With comfrey the more mature leaves are more potent – this is the opoossite of other plants.
Use half the weight of brown sugar for osmotic effect. Sugar is better than cane syprup or molasses because it delivers beter osmotic pressure and too much liquid creates vinegar. Sugar stimulates microorganisms on the leaves – natural yeats. Pound all together. The microbes will assist the fermentation process. The cell walls release liquid because of the osmotic effect of the brown sugar.
Pack jar two thirds full. Leave one third space for vital elements. Pack tight to reduce air bubbles. Leave 3-7 days. Layering does not work. Needs mixing properly. Work for at least 5 minutes.
When ready store poured off liquid in glass jar: tip - turn jar upside down and let filter out for few hours.. Do not squeeze. If you want to keep it any longer than a week, mix 100 per cent with brown sugar so it does not vinegarise.
Apply with sprayer at one to five hundred dilution. 1 gallon makes 500 gallons of fertiliser. Small quantity guide: 1 oz to five gallon bucket. Fine mist for foliar feeding. Can add to irrigation lines. Use weekly up to flowering time. Can also be sprayed on soil and adds to soil biology.
This dilution will not attract ants. If pests are a problem, it indicates that soil needs attention.
Other plant material:
Sweet potator folaiage makes high quality plant feed.
Herbs can be used (oregano is particularly potent), but use caution when applying feed from high aromatic content herbs.
You can use foliage from plants to make feed specific for those crops,
Koreans use mugwort. In japan dropwort (parsley family) is popular because it is a powerful accumulator of trace elements. Use accumulators ike comgrey where possible, like comfrey. Using leaf tips encourages leaf growth. Using flowers as source material encourages flowering.
Drake Asaurus (audio recording of demonstration)
natural farmers in Hawaii share experiences and expertise