currently in Austin


Homemade fertilizers and fungicides

compost tea how-to

by John Dromgoole

Helpful Plants

Weeds: weeds contain lots of potassium and other nutrients. Pull them before they set seed to include in the compost pile.

Comfrey: This medicinal herb adds potassium, nitrogen, and various nutrients when dug into the soil, used as a mulch, or used as a compost activator.

Fertilizers/Soil Activators

Compost tea: You can make your own compost tea. Blend some of your compost with water in a 5-gallon bucket. Let it sit overnight. Strain it and add to a sprayer or mix with more water to make a soil drench.

Soft drinks: Soft drinks contain phosphates. That’s the nutrient that boosts flower production. It also helps stimulate roots, like potassium does. Then, it’s got all that sugar! The sugar feeds the soil microorganisms. Pour your dregs onto your plants or onto the compost pile. If you want to make a soil or compost drench, use 4 parts soda to 1 part water.

Blackstrap molasses: Use 2 tablespoons to a gallon of water as a soil drench to feed the soil microorganisms. You can also use a granular form. But the liquid blackstrap molasses is something you can pick up at any grocery store.


Apple cider vinegar: This one has multiple uses in the garden.
First, you can dilute it with water and use as a fungicide to control black spot.
It also helps slightly reduce the pH of our alkaline soil. Lowering the pH helps make iron more available to the plants. Use 2 tablespoons to a gallon of water. As a soil drench, apply on a monthly basis at most. Don’t overdo it!

As a foliar spray to control black spot, remember not to spray leaves in the heat of day or when temperatures are over 85?.

Corn meal: Use whole ground cornmeal. Add about 2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. This helps kill soil diseases.
Make a tea with one cupful of cornmeal to a gallon of water. Let it sit overnight. Strain, and use as a fungal spray.