Is Manure Tea, The Right Way?

Making Manure Tea, The Safe Way

There are hundreds of recipes out there for making Manure Tea. The last decade or so, some issues are arising, and I have been caught up in the middle several times by readers, clients, audiences.. My recipe is included below, but here’s the seemingly abundant issue coming in large with those who are trying to stay on the Organic side.

“My garden dies off after a few weeks of planting. I top dress with old horse manure (or cow),in the Winter, and everything dies except my Onions, Dill, Celery, or any other “stalky” types, seems that anything like Tomato, Squash, Cucumber, Pepper, Melons, Herbs, etc., just die an early death”…

Well here’s the deal. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in someones kitchen as they make the call to their manure supplier, to call their hay supplier, to get back to them, about this. “Do you use 2-4d on your hay to kill Broad leaf Weeds, to make it a more pure crop?”
“Yes”…… Federal law, they have to tell you, they don’t need to disclose it, but they have to tell you if asked, now ain’t that something?

Now, I’ve seen a few, go just super ballistic after they tell me the outcome. My issue is, I’ve tested manure in several composted piles at several ranches, and made Manure Tea, applied it to several different plants, and if all the broad leaf plants that died, well, the answer from the hay farmer was right, they used the chemical. That chemical, can be eliminated by the animal in their waste, and can linger in their waste, for four years, if there is no broad leaf plant (Tomato, Vinca, etc.) to consume it. It’s in the garden bed, in the manure, and as it rains, or watered, it splashes onto the leaf of the plant, and kills it…… Same as Weed and Feed, in your lawn, FOUR YEARS. Barefoot in the lawn is not so attractive anymore is it? Stop using it, you can get better results by “spot treating” with a spray, or feed at the right times. You won’t promote weeds, there’s always another chemical in the next AD to counter, what was promoted wrong.

Just educate yourself folks, ask!!! All you have to say to privately owned is “are there any chemicals in the product”? And they have to disclose. Some actually use Glyphosate (Round-Up) to kill the whole crop at the same time so it’s more “pure”, no greens left.

Now, here’s the twist, bagged goods labeled “Organic”. Look at the label, adds up to what, about 85%? On the flip side, by Federal Law, these Vendors only have to claim as 85% Organic, the other 15%, they don’t have to tell you, they can add what ever they want, to stay ahead of the other guy. And don’t have to tell you. Money thing, Monsanto stockholders, most of our Government owns this stock, all the way to the White House, and placing the outcome on our dinner tables, recreational areas, water.. What do they care, they are making millions.

My recipe.

Black Cow Manure or Chicken Manure

A little Milorganite


Bt Israeli

Lavender Leaf

4″ Drainage Pipe cover and coffee can.

I take a piece of the “sock” and tie one end off, place it in a coffee can, cut it so it drapes over the side. Pack full with the manure, add 1/4 cup of Bio-tone, a little Milorganite, 5 or 6 pieces of Lavender leaf, and sprinkle a little Bt. Tie the open end with a longer string, about 18″, and pull out the “Tea Bag”.

This bag will treat a 5 gallon bucket about 5 times refilled. Let it steep about a week each refill.

TEST it on a weed at first batch!! You never know if there may have been a chemical introduced in your products. If the weed grows, good batch, if it dies, spray your driveway or wherever you have weeds.

The Milorganite will supply Iron, as well as a critter deterrent, as well as the Lavender. Bt, will keep Mosquito Females from being able to coagulate blood, for her eggs, Bio-tone, promotes root strength and growth.
Free Manure can kill your broad leaf live goods. They don’t want it, they want it gone, and then the deciphering about the non-success you had is buried way back in the conception of you wanting to be “Organic” . Test a batch first, make the decision after.

Ask questions.

Indian Summer or White Christmas?

So, a few years ago I wrote an article on “Why We Need an Indian Summer” and “What Makes it a White Christmas”. I see that I am being hit big, HUGE, actually, on both articles lately. So…

Let’s get into “El Nino” Christmas. As the data shows, and I have personally been waiting for, this may be the strongest El Nino in 68 years, and it is showing true. Here in Va, we will be having out umpteenth Indian Summer this Fall, and even into Winter, which starts, tomorrow, and I am grateful because of the Polar Vortex finally going back home…. 76 degrees coming this week, thru Christmas. Ma Nature is just a bit out of whack, trying to get things back in order. I remember as an early teen in the mid 70’s, riding my bike around the neighborhood, me and  me buds, on Christmas Eve, gawking at all the Christmas lights, in t-shirts, and shorts well into the evening, just to pass the time. Even then, I was noting the “cycle” of the weather, as now, I remember it. So you Global Warming fools, keep on with your surmises that it’s real. Where were you last year, when I was cheering that the high today, was going to be 26 degrees ?

Little known fact… In any World Atlas, the Soviets include Ice Packs, as land mass, as long as it’s attached to them, for their square miles. In the last decade, they were shrinking. This year, their square miles, is gaining. The Winter Olympics they, couldn’t keep the ice frozen for the events, remember? Go figure….

Yes, a White Christmas has to be snowing on, Christmas to count, good luck with that this year. Buffalo broke a record of without snow this year, and my avid ski buds here in Va are whining… Some are from PA, and THEY don’t have any either!! The cycle is, a cycle. Every 17,000 years, we have an Ice Age, so, PANIC!!!

Gardening.. Hmm. What do I do in an El Nino year? Well, I GARDEN UNTIL FIRST GROUND FREEZE!!! I have always ended my lectures with, “There are NO rules in gardening, IF you are following rules, you are only “landscaping”.

In all my weather watching, I monitor the Jet Stream, El Nino, La Nina, Coral bleaching, the “Ocean Pumps”, Ocean Temps, and a host of Phenology events thru the year, that most, can’t even imagine. Woolly Caterpillar? Pig Spleens? NO, sorry. Not into false things. Personal Garden Coaches are your seasonal protectors, some of us, are actually “Grounded” with the Earth, well, just because we know what that means. Quick! What’s the MgHz vibration of the Earth have to do with Honey Bees and their demise?  Why did the Purple Martins bypass Richmond last year? Why have we had an abundance of Inch Worms 2 years in a row? LOL!!! NOT because of Global Warming, and I bet your Grandparents could tell you of the same such circumstances of decades gone by, as well as things blooming now, that shouldn’t be? How true is it about a Cricket, minus, what, equals the coming temp? There are soooo many of these cool things that kill the panickers reasons, it really is.

My Richmond first snow fall guess is February 9th. I will also remind my active clients, about the importance of Ironite around then, and to watch for Forsythia, to bloom early, Go Time!!! Screw those Box Store ads!!. Find yourself, a local Personal Garden Coach, and Garden-on. Box Store ads are designed to make you purchase more, chemicals…..

Have a Merry Christmas, enjoy your Holidays, whatever, However, you choose. As Garden Folk, we are all, connected, no matter what religion. We enjoy each others endeavors and learn from mistakes, we ask questions, hoping to find answers on a very cool level, no matter who answers, about our gardening successes, don’t we.. When the grind comes down, and sifted thru, as successful gardeners, help is but a pulled weed away.

Think about it, act on it.

BTW, I need a connection to Virginia Veterans and gardening, disassembling Christmas for some, or any Virginia Vets wanting to just do a HUGE thing for those in need..  Your group can be either US Military, Local Police, Veterans Affairs, or FD Hurry, it’s time. Let’s go, time to get dirty.

Email me at




Just a Minute Please!!! 60 Seconds of Daylight

Anyone feel it? See it? We have gained on minute of daylight. One minute of bliss. February 7th, is one hour. March 6th, 2 hours.

Yeah I know it creeps up, but, as a gardener. those minutes add up. They come just as fast as they went in the Fall. This post is to remind you of the daylight. It is, time.

Time to really start thinking on the next cycle of growing. Time, to see the cool stars leaving our sky, making way for the new season. Time. Hear the ticking. See the light change. feel the calling.

OK maybe its just me. and my clients, and my kids, friends. OK fine. But according to the clock, it’s climbing. Don’t be left out. In the link find you, and hit calculate. 60 seconds is only one minute to you now, but as we progress in the new year, it will compound from 9 hours 34 minutes to 14 hours. 46 minutes…. Think about it.

Gardeners are not thinking of Black Friday, sales, feasts, travel, whatever. Our soil is thinking about living, with our new food, recipes, families, hopes, failures, whatever. But we will grow, food. For you.

Time waits for no gardener. We know, feel, live by it’s domain. So think of us, as we awaken earlier in the coming days, weeks, months. We want to feed you, we have chores. If you can not understand us, then get up with us. We are the ones that fixed your coffee, in the dark. Get up with us, and feel, see the dawn. In about a month, you, will be smelling the compost, seeing the fog, having that great cup of coffee, saving the grounds for the compost pile. The light is coming, and there is no stopping it. And you will know what it means to eat for free. Wash our dirty clothes and wonder how does this happen?

Have mercy on your garden person. We are up early for no reason, other than our own abilities forthcoming. We don’t get up for sales,TV shows, visits, whatever. We are the ones that keep you on time for the details, because…..

Daylight. One minute. I felt it. Did you?


Balcony Gardening Food Savings… and free seeds!!

OK, so you have a balcony or small patio. You used to garden somewhere else, now that you are 2 to 3 floors up, what can you grow? Or can you…..

Let’s say that you find 2 pots that are about the size of a 5 gallon bucket. There you can grow a Determinate and an Indeterminate Tomato. One is for sauces, one is for those great salads or sandwiches. Determinate types, you may want to remember how to can. 3 or 4 one gallon pots, there’s your Pepper varieties. Maybe one that is around 14″ wide and 12 inches tall? An Eggplant. A couple of window boxes and there are some nice Lettuce or other Cold Crops. Throw in another one, about 5 gallon size, and think of the Cukes or Potatoes vining everywhere. That old aquarium that leaks or has no use? Just 6 to 8 inches of soil, and Carrots, Radish, Parsnip, or even Pole Beans climbing out. That’s a lot of money saved in your grocery budget.

Wait, there’s more. There may be a pantry in a silly spot you don’t use much. Add some cheap lighting, a few recycled, up-cycled items and there’s a nice seed starting area for February. Tomato, Pepper and Eggplant, they take the longest, and will be ready for your transplanting in mid April.

So, being in an apartment or town home doesn’t mean you can’t have some garden therapy and save money by growing your own food. Share with neighbors, have fun, get the kids involved, it never ends. I will be giving lectures at apartment community centers through January so the tenants can have time to find their proper items. If you want me to give one to your community in the Richmond area, have your community center rep email me at to set a date. Then the fun begins. I go thru everything from seed starting, container sizes, soil, racking, watering sunlight requirements, feeding, and more. The fee is only $10.00 per person, and one complex may want me there all day as the residents are able to attend, done that before, and it’s a blast because once in, I had people come back during the day asking if “This is the right thing”… I was there 9 hours, and got everyone. In case you missed my segment with WWBT’s “More Bang For Your Buck” about small space gardening, here’s the link.




Why Bother Hiring A Personal Garden Coach?

A Personal Garden Coach and Their Responsibilities
Sometimes, ya just need to get your client dirty. Or wet. Or sweaty… To get them to understand there is no “art” to gardening. It’s a new mindset, every season, because of the huge swings in climate. You have to let them fail, sort of, so the thought process changes. The worst is yet to come, after they get the idea in their head, to actually put a hoe in the ground. They get hooked, they have a bushel of questions before they even think of what they need, and the surroundings begin to all pour over into one, fine, mess… Sometimes, most times, we have to intervene, for only a minute at a time, then the switch happens.
The media begins by always presenting their view, like when you buy a car, and then you see the same car, everywhere. Clients can’t differentiate actual, from “fiction”, as the commercialism is their total worth, and they “need” to buy “that” product, because the guy on TV said so. It, must be popular. Now, we have the problem, of breaking that trend, and slowing down the day. We begin, the coaching process, of showing the accounts of deliberate, benevolent neglect, can most times produce the desired results of that plant. We have the knowledge of chemicals, climate, topography, plant requirements, tools, safety, insects, disease, organics, soils, and a host of other information that for some unknown reason, we harbor in our souls. We belong to organizations, have a plethora of contacts we trust, aren’t afraid to make a mistake and figure out what we did, right. Me, myself, show up at a new clients home, compass in hand, first thing, because they argue where the sun rises. We’re given as “gifts” for birthdays, etc, by family members, for the “brown down, green up” challenged, realty companies because the old trend of “curb appeal” sells better than new paint in the kitchen, and new buyers, to help figure out, “what’s this?” I tend to believe it’s because we have been dirty, wet, sweaty, most of our lives. And we all have that drawer in the kitchen, with dried seeds in bags, old plant labels, the one glove we couldn’t find the mate to, last years seed catalog, the thing, we were going to do something with… So we coach others, put them in the game, and let them play on. We are OK when they don’t need us anymore. We did our job, and now we learn as we go, on what the new gardener has accomplished. We understand that we are, sometimes, trying to alter Ma Nature, in ways only a garden person can, but with utmost respect, that she is, the ultimate. We are in fact, gardens ourselves.
As the trending climate pushes us on to bigger and more abundant issues, the media feels the need to step in and take your mind to that beautiful lawn or garden on the TV or in that magazine pic. There’s all the hype of before, after, with, without, and the ever popular marketing scheme of a great set-up laid out scene… Makes you want yours to look the same, and it can, if you buy this now, and do it soon….. But wait, there is yet another chemical to correct what they told you wrong, or if you buy this now, get this free… and do it later in so many weeks, wrong, but you save money?
See the trend? As a Personal Garden Coach, it’s against our nature to allow that to happen. I hear so many times, “but the guy on TV said”, and I really want to take that client to the “guys” home, and see his garden. Actors are just that. They are getting paid from the residuals you spend, on the “stuff”. And I bet they don’t even get dirty, they have a “guy” that does their gardening for them. I know for a fact, the vendors don’t do what they are trained to tell you. They are on commission, and you will buy this, after all, it was on TV….
I have in the past, run into these people, and asked simple questions off the topic of their promotion, like “What’s the difference between anvil and bypass pruners?”. “I have Honey Bees swarming in my siding, what can I spray?”. “What does “part to full sun vs sun to partial shade” mean on the plant tag?”. “When do I feed, this, and is this the right food, with the pretty blooms on the box?”. When I get some answer, I realize why I am a coach to so many, and how they are confused sometimes when I say no…
Getting clients to trust you, starts with just a small, “Never could get this to grow right” lesson in getting it to grow as they tend to it, properly. So many times I have heard, “Oh, I always did this…” And now I get pics from them boasting with, “I DID IT!!!” And they did… Personal Garden Coaches never take the credit. After all, they have clients, wanting the best know-how they can get from us, to get their surroundings better, easier, healthier, and, cheaper. Some of my best garden clients are the ones who never ever have put a seed in soil, knew nothing, and grew something. I have gotten pics, a few months later, of beautiful Eggplants, Tomatoes, Peppers, that they started indoors in late February, went to the garden bed, tended, fed, watered, protected, and asked, “What now” in the pic….. And all I send back is, “GO PICK!!!”
At the end of my day, when I smell dirt, see fresh veggies or cut flowers on the counter, I know I have a few new gardeners wondering what they need to do tomorrow, writing notes in their journal, collecting seed catalogs and changing the channel when an ad comes on, thinking how to make something useful from the broken garden hoe, seeing the next season in their head. I feel the growth, pun intended, of the new gardeners toils and ideas. Satisfaction spreads throughout gardeners, whether we are in their dirt or not. They start to notice not only other new things, but problems occurring in others landscaping.. They are now a “Gardner”, not a landscapers. Gardening becomes a soothing therapy, and not a malicious nightmare of overgrown hopes. They see the outcome of the fees they paid, as an education they should have known, to be a good steward of the Earth, and now understand, sustainable living. One plant at a time, one new gardener, at a time. As I attend a “therapy” session in my landscape, I feel the pull of everyone I have coached, wondering if they are doing what is right, their gardens flash thru my head as I get to the areas they have. Sometimes, when they call me, and there have been so many over the years, I have no idea who they are by name, but tell me what you are doing, and I know exactly, who I’m talking to.
Yes, as a Personal Garden Coach, being in the midst of chaos at first, listening to what a client dreams of, coaching just a bit, getting the “before” aspects of the layout and the zillion questions after opening up that first packet of seeds, or breaking properly that root mass, is relatively simple… and then, when the second visit occurs, there is the dotted line of a new gardeners dream. When they don’t need us anymore, I do think of them, even as I weed my own. As a Personal Garden Coach, “I love leaving gardens in my wake.”

Polar Vortex Means Garden Indoors!!

Gardening is therapy, that’s why they invented, March!!

Since the last Newsletter went out, I have been inundated with requests for info about several items and “theory’s” about climate, chemicals, GMO, Government Gardening Intervention, and a ton of, “Can I”…. The last one is easy.. Yes, you can. I do, all the time.. The rest, well, let’s just see what we have here.

Global Warming. Really folks, It IS a trend. Climatically speaking, NO, Maryland people won’t see Crotons thriving in their landscape. Richmond Va will not be “ocean front” property. Ma Nature has been playing with the notion of another Ice Age for about 10,000 years. We have one every 17,000 years or so, so just keep watching the climate trends, they will change again, it does every 30 years, just to keep us wondering. “Average” rainfall and temps, are just that, THE AVERAGE, of an assumed timeframe to make the ratio reality if the decade. I was in Reagans first inauguration. It was 7 degrees that day. The January record high, was 81 in 2002. March record, 94 in 1907. Average that, remember how to do averages? In my previous News Letters, blogs, all my public lectures, I refrain from being nailed down to a date on when to…. Anything gardening. That’s why, I push you to keep your own garden journal. Phenology is a wonderful, misunderstood science blown away by the media, and the big retailers. If there’s one thing I have learned from my decades of gardening, it’s when to change the channel when any garden product vendor is on. I’m shocked, that some haven’t marketed “Un-global Warming” in a can or bag. OK, enough of that, just ponder,  Media x $$ – (executive CEO -pension/perks) = mass panic x layoffs/stock loss squared.

Government in My Backyard?  or GGI  Now, lets let this one out. The Government, has gotten involved with how much vegetables, and what kind, you can grow. Really, it’s out there. This is the third year. Some localities have actually adopted the plan, because of, well, I won’t name names, but the signs in the stores say,’ Locally Grown” or “organically grown”…. Know who now? Over priced produce, that’s not actually local. Check for yourself. Have one of those fancy “scan” apps on your phone? Peel back their label, and you can find most of the time the actual farms scan bar.. Yeah.. Local? There’s a guy going around the country busting these markets as he finds them just with that little scan app.. But, these people and their growers are showing up in congress again for the third year, bolstering us for growing our own food, and not buying from them to keep from eating GMO or chemically enhanced foods.. Google it.. It’s there. And it’s ugly. There are 5 veggies you grow, that you can’t share with neighbors, because you aren’t USDA certified….. It’s there, and coming to your neighborhood soon.

OK, Now the Illusive Chemical Thing Is “Gluten Free” really, free? No, not unless you grow your own Amaranth, Mosh, greens, etc. There is now a huge effort to expose the use of Glyphosate on some crops as a “desiccant”… yes, a desiccant. It’s use is for “killing” of the crop, to make it suitable for harvest, without the leftover “greens” in it. In other words, they “kill” the crop with Glyphosate, for harvest. And you’re eating it.. WAIT!! it gets better. Some of the crops that are GMO, “Round-Up” resistant, they use Corn Gluten in the fields to suppress weeds or unwanted plant growth. Corn Gluten, after 3 years of application, can start to cake up in the soil, and the crops, will start taking up the 10 percent nitrogen available from it, thus, taking up the corn gluten and creating a number 4 thing a Celiac person can’t ingest, besides Barley, Wheat, or Rye… Want more? They spray 2-4d on GMO crops to kill off the broad leaf weeds in hay and straw “suitable” for cattle and horse consumption. I’m still waiting on the results from a few universities about does the animal absorb or eliminate the killer? I think it eliminates it because I have used 2-4d treated hay-horse-poop-tea recently and the plant life didn’t make it….. I don’t like 2 4d in my cereal or my grill. Makes me see spots for a while. Let me know what you find out.

Seed Starting in Dryer Lint

This will get you started.