We all know Gardening Rule #1: a happy garden begins with healthy, nutrient-rich soil. It's a no-brainer. Feeding soil is much like feeding a child. We don't want our kids to eat a diet of Cheetos and Ding Dongs, so we insist on lean meats and nutritious vegetables to boost their health and immune systems. Soil fed a steady diet of chemicals and top-dressed with iridescent granules of Miracle-Gro is much like that sugared-up child: unproductive, weak, and unable to grow.
Over the years, we've worked hard to build the health of our soil. When faced with South Carolina's red clay, we didn't have a choice. We compost, adding organic matter each season to our raise beds. We hoard leaves, storing them in a separate bin where they'll decompose into leaf mold. I've filled large Rubbermaid storage containers with horse manure and driven home with it in the back of the car. Did I mention that the stable where our daughter rides is 45 minutes away? Obviously, I'm slightly obsessed with making good soil.
Imagine my happiness when I learned about Annie Haven's MooPooTea. No more eyes tearing as I chauffeured a trunk full of manure!
Several years ago, I received a sample of MooPooTea at the Garden Bloggers' Fling. Honestly? I'd never used compost tea, and I was a little skeptical. How can something with no odor work as well as a container full of poo? Still, I was willing to give it a try.
I'm so glad I did.
Compost tea is a liquid extracted by steeping compost in water. The resulting “tea” contains beneficial microorganisms and compounds that promote plant and soil health. The tea works by providing nutrients to the plant through foliar or soil application. Increasing the health of both the soil and the plant allows better nutrient absorption, helps fight off diseases, and improves overall vigor.
How much did I love the idea of placing a tidy little muslin bag of composted cow poop in a bucket of water instead of lugging a container of too-fresh horse manure to the garden, where it needed to age?
I loved it. A whole lot.
I especially loved the results. My plants thrived.
Seeds soaked in MooPooTea germinated two days faster than those I didn't soak.
Garlic hydrated in tea overnight sprouted faster than cloves not soaked prior to planting.
My 5,000 seedlings grew strong stems and healthy leaves, because I could spray compost tea on them without fear of burning their delicate leaves and roots. (Normally, I wait until transplanting into 3” containers before I fertilize seedlings at all, even with fish emulsion.)
I ordered more tea bags.
In fact, I constantly have two 5-gallon buckets of MooPooTea brewing, because I use it for many applications: seed soaking, bulb hydrating, foliar spraying, houseplant watering, even splashing a bit into floral arrangements to increase bloom longevity. Each season, I also add one 5-gallon container to each raised bed and each section of the potager. Living in South Carolina where I grow produce year round, our gardens work hard—and they need to be nourished so they can keep producing great food and blooms for us.
Making compost tea is simple: fill a 5-gallon container with water and add in one MooPooTea bag. Steep for one to three days. (I usually steep for one day when using the tea for seedlings, but most of the time my tea brews for three days.) After you've brewed your tea, snip the muslin and add the contents of the bag to your garden or compost pile.
Of course, the quality of compost tea is only as good as its ingredients, and this is some good shi...uh, stuff. Annie Haven is a steward of the environment. The owner of a ranch in California's Coastal Valley, she farms as her family has since the 1800s—organically. Her cattle feed on grassy pastures, ensuring that their byproduct—which turn into MooPooTea—is all natural. No chemicals, no traces of herbicide...just pure poo!
Because I'm a firm believer in the power of MooPooTea, I want you to have a chance to try it. Leave a comment telling me what you'd grow using MooPooTea, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a 9-pack of MooPooTea, an amaryllis bulb for the holidays, and five packs of seeds. Enter by midnight on Sunday, November 30. I'll announce the winner on Monday, December 1. (P.S. We're old fashioned here. Your name will, quite literally, be placed in a hat, and one of our kids will draw the winner. Please make sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win.)
Make your soil happy and enter to win! Good luck!
P.S. Other than the free bag of MooPooTea I received years ago, I wasn't compensated to tell you about MooPooTea. I just really, really like the stuff and know you will, too! Trust me--it's so much better than lugging fresh horse manure.
P.P.S. Congratulations to Patty Hicks, the winner of the giveaway!