What to do with weeds (Weed tea?)


Does anyone make any type of compost tea with strictly weeds. Every time I pull weeds and make a giant pile and then throw it in the garbage I think to myself what a waste of nutrients. I have been looking into and watching videos regarding compost tea. I don’t really want to get all crazy about it and buy a bubbler or add molasses or even beer for that matter. I would just like to see if anyone has thrown weeds in a bucket with water and used the tea to water the vegetables with. Does it work? Is it worth it? How high of nitrogen content would it be? What would be the dilution ratio?
I have thought about adding the weeds to a compost pile but most of them go to seed before I can get to them. I am afraid the seeds will germinate and or stay alive in my compost pile. If I catch them early enough that is a good idea but if not it would be nice to know if this would actually work. Thus far I have just done research and Last night I went and bought a 20 gallon garbage can to try it with. I thought maybe I would just run it by you guys before doing so. If not I can always keep the 20 gallon garbage can and use it around the yard.


My main nemesis is morning glory and I’d be afraid of it surviving and spreading cause it’s so hardy and prolific.


Here we have greenery collection. All the trimmings and any weeds go into the green barrels. If you want compost just take a barrel to the greenery facility. If you want a truckload it’s $15 per cubic yard. Production facilities are regulated in CA so there’s no concern about it being under-cured.


To extract nutrients you want to ferment the weeds, so no bubbler because it is an anaerobic process like pickling, it is called fermented plant extract, or fermented plant juice. It stinks to high heaven for a day when you use it, so be aware and don’t get it on yourself. Like most things on the internet, people are going to try and sell you stuff and make the whole process more complicated than it has to be. But you don’t really need to buy anything, using some whey from yogurt as a starter culture will improve your chances of success though. The nutrient content will depend on the type of weeds, it usually gets used at a 10-30% dilution.

I have only been using it for a couple years, and have had a batch go “bad”. I test the ph at the end to make sure the right kind of bacteria is in there, it should end up acidic from acidophilus. I’ve used comfrey, grass clippings, horsetails, jewelweed, plantain and nettles so far.


Thank you for the reply. Yes I am afraid if I compost the weeds I also have morning glory and would hate to add more to my garden. That is why I was thinking of making a tea from them.

Yes I am sure the smell is horrible LOL. It couldn’t be any worse than fish emulsion when I have fertilized my trees with that. Last summer my hands got covered in it and it spilled all over my clothes. Stunk for a few days. LOL. I had to explain to everybody I worked with that it was fish emotion and not me.

some have added a single beer to the batch to add to the fermentation process. Would you recommend that?

Also what pH am I looking for in the end? Or how will I know if the batch has gone bad.

Also I’m sure a batch will last me a long time. My plan was to put the weeds in a net that I have into the 20 gallon trashcan. Let it sit for a few weeks and agitated every few days. In the end pull the net with the weeds out and toss them in the garbage. Then I would use the Tea until it runs out. Would it eventually turn bad over time? Or should I make the tea in smaller quantities And more frequent?


I’ve never tried beer, seems like a waste of good beer to me :wink: I’m just using liquid ph indicator so figure orange to red is acidic enough, the bad stuff was blue, smelled like death… didn’t hurt any of the weeds I dumped it on. I’ve never stored it either, just use it all right away, but I think putting it in milk jugs or buckets and storing someplace cooler would be best.

I only use it on my container fig trees, and they are pretty tough as far as handling fertilizer and salts but I’d be a lot more careful with vegetables and probably use more starter to be sure it was all good bacteria.


Fish emulsion fertilizer is 20 to 50 times more concentrated in Nitrogen by weight than completely cured compost.


You can hot compost most weeds. My pile gets to 130F easily and 140-145F with some care. It stays at that temperature for a week or more.
Weeds or weed seeds will not survive that.


Hmmm. I didn’t know that about the hot compost. I would still be afraid of the morning glory. That stuff seems to be Able to handle anything And still survive. Do you think a 50/50 mix of water and tea would be too much?


If you want to get a rough NPK ratio of fermented plant extract estimate the weight of the weeds and the water, then look up the NPK of the weeds and it should work out like this:

#weeds x % nitrogen / # water.

10 # fresh grass clippings with 4% nitrogen in 80 # water could yield .5% nitrogen solution. That is too hot to use 50-50, and the nitrogen is immediately available unlike other organic sources so it could burn things. Following the rate for fish emulsion 5-1-1 of 2 T per gallon would be 20 T or 7.8%


Commercial/industrial composters get to 150F. That temperature will burn skin in seconds. Home piles can get to 140F without a lot of trouble. That is the temperature of a Starbucks cappuccino as soon as it’s made. There is no way morning glory vine or seeds will survive a week of that temperature.


Wow you’re right 50/50 would be too much. Thank you. I didn’t think of the immediately available portion and that it could burn leaves. I am glad that I ran it by you guys. Thanks for your knowledge.


My two cents… When your tea is done, be prepare to deal with what left after liquid is used. You will get about the same amount of greens you started with. But now it will be wet, rotten and smelling… No, SMELLING! (I am a person, who easily deal with a cubic yard of fresh horse manure, but smell of compost tea leftovers is something special!)If you touch it with bare hands be ready to smell this aroma from your hand after several washing and scrubbing. So make sure that your container can be emptied easily, and you have a spot in the garden where you can dig a hole and dig that rotten greens in.


Haha. Ok. I will wear gloves for sure. Or a hazmat suit. :wink: