Use these garden plants to make your own liquid plant food
I use a number of plants from my garden to make liquid plant feed. Today I thought I’d share some of the plants I use this way that are some of the best “dynamic accumulators” around. Often used in permaculture, this term refers to a plant’s ability to absorb and store nutrients and minerals from the soil in higher and more bioavailable concentrations.
First of all, it should be noted that dynamic accumulation is a complex issue. The nutrients in the plants themselves and the liquid fertilizers made from them can vary significantly depending on the soil you live in and the conditions in your area, among other things.
But making liquid plant food by adding plant material to the water can help you maintain fertility in your garden and keep the plants healthy and strong. I find these are beneficial when used individually or in combination with each other.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) are one of the most common “weeds” where I live. But for me they are one of the most useful plants in my garden. I eat them, use them to make twine, and value them as a boon to local wildlife.
I also use them to make nitrogen-rich liquid plant food, which is especially beneficial for leafy, nitrogen-hungry plants. The nettles bioaccumulate a number of other macro and micro plant nutrients. They also grow quickly and can be harvested more than once during the growing season.
If you don’t have nettles, cuttings of glass and many other leaf materials can also make nitrogen-rich liquid plant food.
Comfrey is the most famous liquid feed plant, famous for its ability to use its long tap roots to collect potassium and other nutrients from deep within the soil. Comfrey is a wonderful feed for fruit plants in need of a potassium boost, but its properties are also well suited for a number of different plants.
Another common, deeply rooted liquid feed plant is the dandelion (taraxacum). These can add potassium and trace nutrients to a formulation to feed a range of plants. I usually don’t use dandelion alone but add it to an all-purpose “weed feed” along with other plants in my garden.
Yarrow is a deep-rooted, nutrient-rich perennial that can be a particularly good addition to “weed food”. Yarrow concentrates phosphorus, potassium, copper, sulfur, and a number of other nutrients that plants need to grow and thrive.
Another of the plants that I particularly like for liquid feed is Chenopodium album, also known as “Lamb’s Quarters”, “Fat Hen” or “Goosefoot”. It’s not only great for the three most important plant nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – but also other nutrients like calcium and magnesium.
One plant that I particularly appreciate for liquid feed is borage. This self-seeding annual is beneficial in a garden for a variety of reasons, including potassium accumulation.
These are by no means the only plants from a garden that can be added to an organic liquid fertilizer. Some other particularly useful “weeds” for mixed liquid vegetable feed are:
- Galium aparine (Log splitter, Sticky Willy)
- Plantago ssp. (Bananas)
- Portulaca oleracea (common purslane)
- Rumex ssp. (curly dock)
- Sonchus ssp. (perennial saudistle)
- Stellaria media (Vicherkraut)
- Tanacetum vulgare (rainforest)
- Tussilago farfara (Coltsfoot)
Another useful ingredient for liquid plant food does not come from the garden, but from the coast. Algae can be sustainably harvested in small amounts in some areas, and where permitted and done responsibly, these can also make great liquid plant fodder. Algae contain a number of micronutrients that promote healthy and productive plant growth.
These are just some examples. Exploring ways to make liquid feed from different plants can help you maintain fertility in your garden and increase yields over time. Don’t be afraid to try it out and conduct your own experiments to find out which solutions and dilutions are best for your area of residence.