Tea Time and Solstice Science (sorta)

Happy Summer Solstice!

I love science! I love steeping things! Today’s post includes both.

That is a pile of weeds. Typically when I harvest big weeds, I add them to the compost pile. They add nitrogen and micronutrients to the mix.

This month, I attempted my first steeping of weed tea. Simply, I gathered a variety of weeds – lots of burdock, some buckthorn and locust seedlings, some randoms, no seedheads – and tore them up just enough to fit into this bucket. Covered them with rainwater. Left the lid cracked open for air. Stirred the gloop with that stick every couple days. Awaited the scents that everyone online warns you about.

Actual notes from my yard journal

Day 4: The putrefying is happening! Smell is like drain gunk + opening a Tupperware left at back of fridge + Desitin. Not pleasant; gross, but not the worst assault on the nose. Yet?

Day 8: Like a baby diaper of mush! More pungent and wafting on the wind.

Day 14: Full diaper of spinach and squash. (This is the stuff they say keeps neighbors away from your yard.)

Then it was time to strain the tea. There are still some solids in it, as visible in the photo. Silly me, I first attempted to filter the weed tea. Huge fail. The mesh was far too fine for this thick soupy liquid to pass through. It just sat there, clogged. So, I carefully poured all of it back into the bucket (wearing dishwashing gloves) and got my junky metal strainer and old ladle I use for compost tea. That worked better, but still a slow process. When I got to two gallons of strained weed tea, I said, “forget it” (ok, it was more like what you’d hear on Succession) and just added more rainwater to the unstrained tea, and dumped it around the asparagus plants. The bottle flies were thrilled. What is this delicious aroma??

I used one gallon of the weed tea immediately at a dilution of 1:10 tea:water (give or take, no scientific measurements involved). Most all the cutting flowers were part of the tea party. Several flowering and fruiting shrubs also got a foliar feed. A week later, they all seem happy. The thing with weed teas and compost teas is: You don’t really know what you’re giving your plants. Just that it’s something supposedly good. So I don’t know how any of the flowers or shrubs would have been without our tea party. Maybe they’d look the same.

So that’s why I thought, I should run an experiment! The seedlings above have now all been enrolled in this very loosely run trial. So loose, I don’t think it can even be called “science” but it might be fun. The yarrow seedlings on the left are getting the tea treatment with each watering. Seedlings on the right are getting water from the hose. No other inputs, and no, I’m still not measuring anything for reals. Let’s see what happens!

Day 16: I splashed some weed tea on my arm during watering. When I came into the house, family member across the room asked, What’s that smell?

Meanwhile, the drought continues…

Anyone remember what rain is like??

The aphid pressure is so much higher than last year. Stressed plants and trees have colonies covering all the tender new growth. But! Last week I was thrilled to see ladybug larvae all over the chokeberry. These ‘baby alligators’ eat lots of aphids!

I tore off the leaf with the four Roy siblings on it (Succession reference… yeah, we’re deep in these days) and attached it to the German chamomile with a clothespin, hoping they’d go ruthless on the aphids that had recently appeared there. Later that day, I found three of the them had effectively dispersed and started snacking. Nudging ecology for the Win!

That’s the haps here on the last day of Spring 2023. Next post = flower pics!

Keep growing! And maybe wear gloves if you host a weed tea party.

2 comments

  1. You are dedicated! Not sure I have it in me to make tea…helpful or not!!

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