Chicken Poop Tea (for seedlings)

artichokes

Month-old artichokes

So, imagine that about a month ago you planted seedlings that have been basking under some cool white lights and growing happily towards spring. You faintly taste broccoli and cabbage every time you water them, which you can do literally if you eat the leaves off any seedlings that you thin.

About now your seedlings will get hungry for more than water and cool white light. They will have pretty much depleted the nitrogen and other goodies in the potting soil and be looking to you to provide them with something else. If you have access to chicken manure I recommend the something else be your own home-brewed chicken poop tea. We used to buy Miracle-Gro plant food for our seedlings, which definitely smells, well, less chicken-y, but anything that’s blue seems a little bit suspicious.

Chicken manure is about the best fertilizer out there–that is, it has one of the highest Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium (NPK) ratios.  Rabbit poop is higher yet, but as more people keep chickens than rabbits these days, the availability of chicken poop puts it on the top of my list.  Chicken manure is so rich (or “hot”) that it must be aged/cured/composted so that it doesn’t burn the plants onto which it’s applied.

Here’s a good trivia question: What’s the white part of chicken poop on top of the dark part of the chicken poop called?

The answer: chicken poop. Technically the white stuff is uric acid–similar to what’s in human urine. Yes, these creatures pee and poo out the same hole (called a “vent”) and it all gets mixed together. And not to disgust you, but the egg comes out of the vent, too.  It’s an all purpose hole. Very efficient. Like their poop.

We use a lot of their poop and bedding to mulch strawberries and other beds in the winter, and we add it to our compost bin in the growing season to age. But this year I saved some chick manure mixed with pine shavings for chicken poop tea. Pine shavings take longer to break down than straw so we don’t put pine shavings in our compost bin.  Making tea was a perfect use for some of it. If you regularly use pine shavings in your coops, the bedding makes a great mulch around trees and shrubs, and you can compost the rest, just know it will take longer to break down than straw.

People on the internet offer as many ways to make chicken poop tea as there are people brewing it up. I’ll tell you how I did it, give you some of the ranges I found on line for brewing times and application rations, and in a few weeks I’ll let you know how ours is working out for our plants.

Directions for Chicken Poop Tea

Fill a plastic bucket about 1/3 full of chicken poop infused bedding. I recommend you label this bucket in some creative way so that you will not harvest green beans into it later in the summer. Fill the bucket with water and cover loosely.  Let steep for 2-4 weeks (ours steeped closer to two weeks).

pooptea

After 2-4 weeks drain your tea through a colander or pillow case into another bucket (similarly labeled). I recommend you also dedicate a colander or pillow case for this purpose, rather than figure you’ll wash it out and strain your spaghetti through it for dinner.  Keep the bucket covered (loosely) and store it outside as the tea smells a bit nastier than the blue stuff for sure.  When it’s ready it should be the color of weak tea.

We start fertilizing our seedlings after a month.  I use a 1:4 ratio of tea:water.  If you are watering inside the house be sure to protect your floor from water spills, or else wipe them up since you are no longer watering just with water, but are now technically introducing poop as well.

Also at this point I stop taste-testing the green leaves when I thin seedlings, and stop adding the onion tops I clip to soups and salads.  And wash your hands after handing this tea.  You may think I’m being a bit particular here.  But just so you get the point: Your home-brewed fertilizer is great for your plants and ultimately will be great for you, but it is, after all, CHICKEN POOP TEA.

chickpoo

Some people use the tea straight up on their plants.  I’d worry about burning tender seedlings.  I also saw people who used a ration of 1:10.  Perhaps if I had steeped our blend for four weeks instead of two I would use a lower ratio.  But the range suggests you probably can’t go too far wrong.  As I said, I’ll keep you posted and let you know how our seedlings respond. Feed them every couple of weeks until you get them in the ground and you will be on your way to having happy, or at least healthy (if its a stretch for you to think of plants as happy) transplants.

If you have question I’ll do my best to answer them.  Meanwhile, here’s to All Growing Things!

 

 

 

9 Comments

  • What a beautiful title! Are you a poet?

    Seriously, though, it draws one in…

    • Yes, well, I figured the topic would be a bit “eew…. disgusting!” so I put my best poetic self into expressing the wonders of chicken poop…

  • I had someone request some poop tea from me last night and had to revisit this very informative post to remind myself how to make it. The best part was when I went to the main page and typed “poop” in the search bar, only to have far more returns than I expected…

  • Ah yes, poop, and talk about poop abounds! It’s such a fun word to say, and type!

  • How long will this store?

    • When I’ve made it, its always been with the intent to use it within a couple of months. When I’m done with my seedlings I fertilize trees and shrubs with the rest of it.

  • Thank You! I made a bunch at the beginning of the summer and have alot left. Wasn’t sure if it would store or not. I will have to get more poo from the neighbors. lol Was wonderful on our tomato plants!

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