Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Singing Praises for Manure Tea

   As do so many great revelations in my life, it all started with a gift from a friend. This summer, shortly after Dee from Red Dirt Ramblings visited our farm to snap photos for her soon to be released book...

You should totally pre-order Dee's book right here.

...she sent me the most beautiful gift. The package contained several seed packets, including herbs and flowers and greens, also beans, the kind you sprout in wet towels, and... Manure Tea.

   And the heavens parted, and the angels sang! 
My gardening life would be forever improved.

This is one of my favorite outdoor chairs, wrapped in watermelon vines
and loaded down with Dee's generosity. 
I am saving most of this for the upcoming growing season. 
These and lots of other seeds are in a kitchen drawer so I can look at them, 
whisper sweet nothings, and imagine them germinated and growing lushly...

   As this past summer progressed, somewhere along the way Dee introduced me to Annie Haven via social media. Annie owns and operates  Authentic Haven Brand Manure Tea. She is as warm and accessible as anyone you will ever meet. She makes her customers feel like friends, and she connects us to each other by circulating photos of successful growing projects, etc. Just a fun lady! Like my sweet Dee.

   So I began to learn a little here and there about the product, Manure Tea, which is exactly what it sounds like: Dried manure contained in little muslin bags meant for steeping in warm water so you can feed your plants. That's what you thought, right? It's brilliant!

   I have read for a few years about making my own manure tea, but can I just tell you, as the person who does most of the poo-scooping around The Lazy W, that at the end of that chore I would much rather just add it to a compost heap, not dry it on trays and sanitize it and so many other important things. Annie's product is perfectly wonderful, and it is really economical too. Friends, I am a passionate DIY-er but choose to leave this particular business to the experts.


   In a moment I will let the photos speak for themselves, but let me tell you what Manure Tea has done for me and my potted plants:

Surprise Benefits of Using Manure Tea

  • My English Ivy can now, with neither a tutor nor Rosetta Stone, speak fluent French. And she isn't even snobby about it.
  • The plants I keep atop my upright piano have, somehow, grown to such a point of verdant beauty that when I sit down to play my fingers glide effortlessly through Chopin and Jerry Lee Lewis alike.
  • My asparagus fern is actually growing asparagus spears that are already wrapped in delicate prosciutto. I am told this never happens. Beginner's luck?
  • Finally, the paper whites are growing so tall and so quickly that I have been forced to collect estimates from local contractors so we can install a vaulted ceiling. It's expensive, let me tell you. But worth it. Have you ever seen perfect paper whites? It is a sight to behold, especially in the dead of winter.

   Now. Here is a little timeline of how Manure Tea has amplified the growth and beauty of my paper white bulbs which, by the way, are just from a hardware store. I bought them on clearance in a little plastic baggie. They are nothing special from a bulb company in Holland or anything like that. Cheap. Easy. Amazing.

Paper White Timeline Using Manure Tea

  • November 28th: I soaked the seven or eight bulbs in Manure Tea, brewed full strength.
  • Then I accidentally forgot about them over Thanksgiving.
  • December 2nd: Just four days later, the bulbs have zillions of roots and nice, respectable shoots! And they are robust, glossy, scrumptious little orbs just bursting with potential! I then planted them among a collection of mason jars, just using in each a few pebbles, a cup or so of potting soil, and a little more Manure Tea that by this point had been diluted again. Easy. Beautiful. 
  • December 16th: Two weeks later, they have rocketed several inches! More than boasting height, though, the paper whites have thick, fleshy stalks and are straight as arrows. In years past, my forced bulbs have been... A bit flaccid. These fed with Manure Tea need zero support. They almost tremble with virility.
  • December 18th: My first bloom. Speechless. A single pure white, gauzy tissue paper, coin-sized bloom sitting with so much confidence on that tallest stalk! And the other stalks, in just two days, have shown measurable growth too. Based on other gardeners' testimonials, I expect to see successive blooms for quite a while.

Roots & Shoots. Exciting anytime, but especially in winter!
December 2nd.

Look how cute the gift wrapping is! Annie sends it this way.
December 16th

Authentic Haven Brand Manure Tea
December 16th

Paper whites forced in Manure Tea. Three weeks to bloom!
December 18th

   Less than a month, friends! In just a few weeks, more gorgeous paper whites than I have ever before grown. Also, house plants that make me look like I know what I'm doing. I am super excited to find out what spells are cast by Manure Tea in my herb garden this spring. 

   I am so thankful for my friendships with Dee and with Annie and that Dee introduced me to Annie and gifted me this wonderful product. Gardeners make lovely friends. 

   Since the bulbs first sprouted, my excitement led me to order more Manure Tea for myself as well as a large collection of it for a very special gardener in my life. (By the way, Annie offers free shipping and handling! Please visit her website and explore.) Whether you grow a large vegetable plot or are devoted to a shelf of prized houseplants, order some for yourself; you will be so very happy you did.

   Merry Christmas, and Happy Gardening!

In the Garden, More Grows
Than the Sower Sows
~Spanish Proverb


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