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The Simplest Way to Apply Fertilizer

The Hozon siphon mixer draws compost tea or liquid fertilizer out of a bucket or container and sends it through your garden hose.

OK, so the headline is a bit misleading. The simplest way to apply fertilizer is to let Mother Nature grow it and produce it for you by allowing clover and other nitrogen-fixing legumes be part of your landscape.

But if you need to apply liquid fertilizer or compost tea to your lawn or other part of your landscape, the simplest way is through a Hozon siphon mixer, which uses basic principles of physics to blend water and other liquids at a consistent rate of 16 parts water to one part of the other product.

Check out our How-To video titled “How to Brew Your Own Compost Tea” to see the device at work. Many folks who have viewed this video lately have asked us where to find the brass fitting, which we purchased at our local hardware store for about $12 a few years back. It seems to have gone up in price at stores on-line such as this one:, but it’s still a great time-saver.

Here’s how it works:

DECIDE RATE OF APPLICATION: Say, for example, you want to apply a standard rate of one gallon of compost tea per 1,000 square feet of lawn area. The dilution rate of the water really doesn’t matter; the important thing is to get a gallon of tea out. So measure out a gallon of tea and place it in a bucket, then measure the coverage area of your sprinkler. Coverage area is defined as length times width. If the sprinkler sends out water over an area of, say, 20 by 25 feet, that would be 500 square feet of coverage.

To obtain the one gallon per 1,000 square feet rate of application, you’d either need remove a half gallon of tea from of the bucket, or move the sprinkler to a new area when half the gallon had siphoned out.

In the case of compost tea, where applying too much would not be a problem, you don’t need to worry about exactness. If you’re applying expensive fertilizer, however, it’s important to watch the rates carefully. You can burn lawns and landscapes with too much fertilizer, or leave the plants hungry if you apply too little.

CLEAN UP AND FLUSH YOUR HOSE AFTERWARD: The Hozon device has a backflow preventer so the compost tea or fertilizer can’t get back into your main water supply coming from the spigot. The residue of the tea or fertilizer can remain, however, in the hose and sprinkler and it’s a good idea to flush this out with clean water and some hydrogen peroxide for good measure. For a bit more industrial strength peroxide than you’ll find at the local drugstore, check out BioSafe Systems out of Hartford, Connecticut. It’s a great little company that supplies a nice niche product for compost tea brewers.

A hose-end sprayer can be calibrated to ensure the proper mix of water and product.

WHEN THE WATER-TO-PRODUCT-RATIO DOES MATTER: In some cases product labels will call for an exact amount of fertilizer or other product to be combined with an exact amount of water. In these cases, the 16-1 ratio delivered by the Hozon device won’t work. If you need 2-1, or 8-1 or whatever, use a hose-end sprayer in that case. In this case it’s also very important to clean the device immediately after each usage. And don’t ever use a hose-end sprayer for synthetic chemicals and then later use it for a biological product like compost tea or organic fertilizer. The chemical residues can remain indefinitely.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • John Carey

    hi I have been trying to put this system together for some time and have run into a few problems. I tried to attach a chlorine chloramine filter in front of the siphon and it decreased the pressure too much for the siphon to work. I have read that the chlorine/chloramine in public water will not do enough damage to the tea to be noticeable. I brewed my tea with water that was filtered. I am really trying to make this work. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • gingerhead2

      One thing you might want to look into is adding some disolved humates to the compost tea just before application. The low levels of chlorine can reduce the active microbes that reach the lawn. The humates will readily and quickly react with the very small amount of the chlorine to neutralize it, reducing damage to the microbes.

      • John Carey

        thanks, I ended up getting an expensive inline chlorine filter ionizer, but am still stuck at application, because I read somewhere that the lawn sprinkler I want to use damages the fungi in the tea. I wonder how many people are out there actually doing this, or what kind of system the pros use, thanks for trying to help, I will definitely try to put that into practice

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