composted manure steeping in water in a bucket

How to Make and Use Manure Tea in Your Garden

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Gardeners love using organic fertilizers to plant and grow healthy plants. There are several ways to do this and there is no right or wrong approach. Read on to find out how to make manure tea and use it in your garden at home. A great tip for beginning gardeners too!

How to Use Manure Tea in Your Garden

In order to grow a productive garden, you need a few things to get started:

There are several ways to get nutrients into your plants. One is by starting with great soil. You can also amend the soil with compost. Worm castings improve soil. And you can also make different types of compost tea. You can make tea with worm casting, compost or well composted manure. Read on to find out more.

For a great planting guide on what you can plant each month, check out this month by month garden planting guide.

Here’s a link to a great vegetable garden planner you can print right out and use at home! So cute!

Composting is the most popular method because it uses kitchen scraps to create excellent manure cheaply. Or you can use manure from farm animals. ‘Pro’ gardeners add value to this manure by making manure tea- and you can too. Manure tea is an excellent organic fertilizer that contains all the nutrients your plants need to grow healthy. This article is the ultimate guide on making manure tea in your garden.

manure composting in a pile

What is Manure tea?

The basic definition is that manure tea is manure steeped in water. It sounds simple enough but there is a slightly more advanced technique to making manure tea, as we will explain in further detail. Manure tea is organic since no chemicals or herbicides are used in this process.

Is Compost Tea Same as Manure Tea?

Manure tea is often confused with compost tea. The only notable difference is the kind of material used. 

Compost tea is made from steeping kitchen scrap, grass clipping, leaves, and other dead plant matter. Manure tea is made by mixing animal waste with water.

Most plants (particularly those with foliage) require nitrogen to grow robust. Manure tea delivers this nitrogen in a way that makes it easy for plants to absorb.

What kind of manure do I use for making manure tea?

You can use almost any type of manure when making compost tea. If you cannot take the manure directly from the pen to the garden, you should not use it to make manure tea.

Droppings from goats, cows, sheep, poultry, horses, pigs, guinea pigs, and any other herbivorous animal on the farm can be used to make manure tea. But avoid droppings from cats, dogs, and carnivorous animals. Their droppings carry harmful parasites and disease-carrying pathogens that harm the plants. 

Fresh manure will burn your plants. You have to cure the manure before use by letting it lie for some time before applying it to your plants. We suggest a year of being in the pile before you start using manure in your garden. Fresh manure could also contain disease-carrying pathogens. These pathogens die during the curing process.

pile of composted manure

How do I make Manure Tea?

Making manure tea is a straightforward process. There are several ways but here are two:

This method keeps the solid manure and the liquid tea separate. What you will need:

  • A sizeable empty bucket
  • An old linen/cotton pillowcase
  • Manure
  • Water
  • Add manure to the pillowcase. Tie off the top of the pillowcase.
  • Place the pillowcase containing the manure into the bucket and add water. Use the ratio of 1 part manure and 2 parts water.
  • Let the mixture steep for several days (One week should be enough time for this part of the process)
  • Stir once a day to increase the oxygen levels in the mixture. This limits the action of anaerobic bacteria that could encourage the growth of pathogens
  • Lift the bag out of the bucket and wring it out. The liquid left inside the bucket is the manure tea
  • Remove the solid manure from the pillowcase and add it to your pile
  • Dilute the manure tea 

For the second method you will need:

  • A sizeable empty bucket
  • Manure
  • Water

The process is similar to the tea bag process. The only difference is that you will mix the manure directly into the bucket. Stir well once a day to let the mixture steep. After several days the mixture will have separated and the solid manure sediments gather at the bottom. Decant the liquid, dilute it, and apply it in your garden.

Extra tip: This is optional but if you want your manure tea to form faster add a cup of molasses inside. The microorganisms love sugar.

Do not apply the manure tea directly to the plants to avoid burning the roots or foliage. Use water to dilute this liquid further. There is no specific formula for diluting manure tea. The goal is to get liquid with a nice golden brown color and consistency.

How to apply manure tea to your garden

You can apply the manure tea in two ways:

As foliar feed

  • Add the diluted liquid to a sprayer
  • Apply to the underside and top of your plants

Directly to the soil

  • Pour the liquid at the base of the plant – do not pour on the stems of the plant

Almost every plant can benefit from manure tea, including plants planted in containers. For more effective results, apply manure tea twice a week throughout the growing season. The solid leftover manure can be re-used in a compost pile. 


Can you use manure tea to water lawns?

Absolutely. Grass also needs nutrients to grow. Spray manure tea on the lawn will boost this growth. Ensure the tea is diluted to avoid burning the grass.

What can I add to the manure tea mixture?

You can add compost to your mixture while making manure tea. Examples of what to add include:

  • Eggshells – grind them to make them easy to breakdown
  • Coffee grounds
  • Rice husks
  • Grass clippings
  • Dead leaves
  • kitchen scraps

What to avoid:

  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Fish
  • Anything fatty
  • Citrus
  • Lemons
  • Diseased plant matter – Because you do not want to transfer disease-carrying pathogens to the new garden

Does manure tea change the pH composition of the soil?

Yes. Soil amendments alter the pH concentration. Adding manure tea decreases the soil’s pH level. Many foliage plants perform best when the pH is between 5.5 and 7 (slightly alkaline). Adding compost tea is part of soil amendments that drastically improve the soil’s yield. 

Chicken Manure Tea

Manure tea can easily be made from chicken manure that you clean out of your chicken house. Compost the manure and straw or other bedding material from the coop and create a pile in an out of the way place. After a year, you can add it to your compost pile or make chicken manure tea directly with it at that time.

Moo Poo Tea

Moo poo tea is a special cow manure product that you can get from my friend Annie Haven. I love this because I don’t have farm animals of my own. So I order bags of moo poo tea and I can drop them straight into a five gallon bucket of water for a week.

Moo Poo Tea Bag

Once they have steeped, I can pull them out and compost them, but my moo poo tea is already the correct strength to use on my garden beds. I don’t have to worry about diluting it or any kind of mess. I have to keep clutter to a minimum because I have a home daycare and my garden is for the preschool program. So I have to meet DHS guidelines for safety in my yard 24/7. This product works great for me.

They come in cute little “tea” bags that are perfect for the kids to toss into the water. Easy peasy. This manure tea makes our plants grow big and strong. I can see a huge difference when I don’t use it.

However you decide to make manure tea, you are going to love the results. It will change the productivity of your garden. We all need quality nutrients to thrive!

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