Use these garden plants to make your own liquid plant food
I use a range of plants from my garden to make liquid plant food. Today I thought I’d share some of the herbs I use this way, some of the best “dynamic accumulators”. This term, which is commonly used in permaculture, refers to a plant’s ability to absorb and store nutrients and minerals from the soil at higher and more bioavailable concentrations.
First of all, it should be clarified that dynamic accumulation is a complex subject. The nutrients in the plants themselves and the liquid foods you make from them can vary widely depending on the soil you live in and the conditions in your area, among other factors.
But making liquid plant food by adding plant matter to the water can help you maintain the fertility of your garden and keep the plants healthy and growing. I find these to be beneficial when used alone or in combination with each other.
Nettles (Urtica dioica) are one of the most abundant “weeds” in which I live. But for me they are one of the most useful plants in my garden. I eat them, use them for twine, and view them as a boon to native wildlife.
I also use them to make a nitrogen-rich liquid plant food which is especially beneficial for leafy and nitrogen-hungry crops. Nettles bioaccumulate a range 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 from glass and many other leafy materials can also produce a high nitrogen liquid plant food.
Comfrey is the best-known plant for liquid food, renowned for its ability to collect potassium and other nutrients from deep in the soil with its long taproots. Comfrey is a wonderful food for fruit plants, which require potassium, but its properties are also suitable for a range of different plants.
Another abundant and deeply rooted plant for liquid foods is dandelion (Taraxacum). These can add potassium and trace elements to a formulation to feed a range of plants. I usually don’t use dandelions on their own, but instead add them to a general purpose “weed food” along with other plants in my garden.
Yarrow is a deep-rooted, nutrient-dense perennial that can be a particularly good addition to a “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 foods is Goosefoot album, also known as “Lamb Quarters”, “Fat Hen” or “Goosefoot”. It’s not only great for the three main nutrients in plants – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – but also other nutrients, including calcium and magnesium.
One plant that I particularly like for liquid foods is borage. This self-seeded annual is beneficial in a garden for a wide variety of reasons, including potassium build-up.
These are by no means the only plants in a garden that can be beneficial when added to an organic liquid fertilizer. Some other “weeds” that are particularly beneficial for mixed liquid plant foods include:
- Galium aparine (cleavers, sticky willy)
- Plantago ssp. (plantains)
- Portulaca oleracea (common purslane)
- Rumex ssp. (cordoned off platform)
- Sonchus ssp. (perennial sow thistle)
- Stellaria Media (gnat)
- Tanacetum vulgare (tannaise)
- Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Another useful ingredient for liquid plant foods does not come from the garden but from the coast. Algae can be sustainably harvested in small quantities in some areas, and when allowed and done responsibly, it can also be an excellent liquid food for plants. Algae contain a multitude of micronutrients that support healthy and productive plant growth.
These are just a few examples. Exploring ways to make liquid foods from different plants can help you maintain the fertility of your garden and increase yields over time. Don’t be afraid to give it a try and conduct your own experiments to determine which solutions and dilutions are best suited for where you live.