Herb ton­ics for YOUR GAR­DEN

Just as you might en­joy a freshly brewed cup of herbal tea, your gar­den will ben­e­fit from a herbal cuppa too.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Grow Your Own Herb Garden -

Many plants ab­sorb nu­tri­ents from the soil through their roots, which are then ab­sorbed into their cells. If you steep those plants in water, many of those nu­tri­ents will seep out into the water. And those same nu­tri­tional prop­er­ties that nour­ish us when drink­ing a herbal tea can nour­ish our plants too.

For ex­am­ple, comfrey ( Sym­phy­tum of­fic­i­nale) har­vests good amounts of po­tas­sium, while clover har­vests ni­tro­gen. Sor­rel ( Rumex spp.) takes up phos­pho­rus. Dock ( Rumex ob­tusi­folius) ac­cu­mu­lates cal­cium, po­tas­sium, iron and phos­pho­rus. Chick­weed ( Stel­laria me­dia) ab­sorbs po­tas­sium, phos­pho­rus and man­ganese, and dan­de­lions ( Tarax­acum of­fic­i­nale) ab­sorb a host of min­er­als. So why not make a nour­ish­ing tea for your gar­den from these plants? Comfrey, sor­rel and net­tle will sup­ply a great all-round fer­til­is­ing herbal tea with good amounts of ni­tro­gen, po­tas­sium and phos­pho­rus.

To make a nu­tri­tious tea for your gar­den, fill a bucket with any or all of these plants and top with water. Steep for 2-3 weeks, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Strain and di­lute to the colour of weak tea be­fore us­ing. Put any re­main­ing sludge from your fin­ished brew in the com­post bin.

As comfrey ab­sorbs large amounts of po­tas­sium from the soil, it’s a use­ful fer­tiliser where high lev­els of po­tas­sium are needed. Cap­sicums, pota­toes, broad beans and cu­cum­bers all thrive on it. If grow­ing and us­ing comfrey as a herbal tea for the gar­den, you should get four or five good har­vests a year, from late spring to late au­tumn. Plants are ready for cut­ting 5-6 weeks af­ter the pre­vi­ous har­vest.

Fresh comfrey leaves can also be placed around berry plants as well as fruit trees as a nu­tri­tious mulch. A layer of moist­ened grass clip­pings will keep them in place. Or you can place one- or two-day-old wilted comfrey leaves in the bot­tom of trenches be­fore plant­ing your pota­toes. The leaves break down rapidly and sup­ply po­tas­sium for the de­vel­op­ing potato plants.

Planted in the gar­den, Ger­man chamomile ( Ma­tri­caria re­cu­tita) draws po­tas­sium, sul­phur and cal­cium to the soil sur­face, to the ben­e­fit of plants nearby. Made into a tea, it may pre­vent seedlings from suc­cumb­ing to damp­ing off, due to its an­ti­fun­gal prop­er­ties. To make a tea, pour 2 cups of freshly boiled water over ¼ cup chamomile flow­ers. Let steep un­til cool, then strain. Water your seedlings or put in a spray bot­tle to spray on plants.

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