Grow Your Own Fertilizer? Grow Tithonia diversifolia!

Are we looking good now dude? So good
morning we’re here on the farm and I noticed when I did my last live video I
had a ton of questions about this plant here behind me and we grow our
fertilizer here on the farm everything we do we follow permaculture methods
agroforestry methods you know we use hardly any ear any irrigation other than
in the nursery use no fertilizer and this plant is basically our main source
of nutrition on the farm and behind me here I have what we call Mexican
sunflower Bolivian sunflower there’s all these crazy common names for this plant
but the one to really get to know this one by its latin name, its botanical
name, which is Tithonia diversifolia and you guys are going to be looking for
this plan after this video and unfortunately I have to tell you right
now that the ste the seeds that this plant sets are actually sterile you
would have to get this plant from a cutting or obtain a plant you know I’ve
talked to a couple of people about it you can’t just find plants of this one
we are going to be shipping plants again here soon so that’s kind of exciting but
Tithonia diversifolia is basically like our fertilizer you can see this
just broke off very easily makes a beautiful sunflower typically that
sunflower only comes when the plant gets very tall so right now it’s at a
sunflower stage I normally don’t let the plants get this tall we chop them and
drop them on a regular basis I really like to chop and drop them with our
clumping grasses so you know Mexican sunflower they say is pound for pound
equal to chicken manure while wet obviously here in Florida within a day
it loses a lot of that moisture but it has a very very high nitrogen content
something I can tell you guys is I’ve just been contacted recently by a
University and they are testing this for a liquid fertilizer to bring into third
world countries they have a patented process I’ve set them two samples I just
heard back with the second sample that they said that this broke down in their
bio digester like no material they’ve ever used before so I’m getting ready to
have those results I’ll probably make another video and show you guys the
actual analysis from the plant but this plant is amazing it grows like a weed
there might be a little bit of a bad reputation going around with Mexican
sunflower or Tithonia just because of the way it lays down when it gets tall. So if you
guys look here behind me you know this plants 8 to 12 foot
tall right now it’s getting kind of lanky a couple of them have fallen over
and we really like to manage them in a way where we can you know we get them
really quick before they do fall over because what can happen is like just
looking over here to the left when these fall down to the ground like
this there is the possibility that it’s going to root and take off again so
people will say that’s invasive you know we don’t want that we really try to
manage these plants in a way before they fall down and hit the ground like that
and I’ll tell you right now I used to cut these back with hand pruners I used
to cut these back with loppers I’ve tried all different ways you can
actually just take the machete here like you see and it’s so soft that the whole
top comes off now we like to cut these back to about a
foot or two like this is literally four or five weeks tops of growth I’d say
about four weeks of growth you can see the old cuts way down here and what I’m
starting to do now in my management program with these is come through with
the small chainsaw I really like the new small echo my favorite chainsaw is
probably the 150 still it’s a really light saw it actually has a really
skinny chain it’s great for fruit trees great for cutting the Mexican sunflowers
the only downside to that is obviously needing gasoline and the noise but I can
cut this entire row you know and I’m talking 75 feet that way 75 feet this
way completely back you know maybe 15 clumps of Mexican sunflower it’s gonna
give me a I actually made another video a thousand pounds of vegan manure I mean
we completely filled my trailer here behind the golf cart with all of this
biomass that comes off of this front row typically the idea would be to chop and
drop in place now in these areas around these Mexican sunflowers my sunshine
mimosa, Mimosa strigillosa, my perennial peanut my ground covers
have really really gotten dense and taken off so I don’t need as much
biomass in these areas yes I drop a little bit on the loquats yes I drop a
little bit on the olives but we actually take this biomass and haul it in
different areas of the farm just right here behind you on this other side you
can see I have a large swale then the Swale we’ve been filling with biomass
over the years and something interesting with the Mexican sunflower I’ve found
when you chop and drop out in full Sun the cuttings you know they don’t take
they don’t root when you do it in the shade I’ve tried
it on bananas now I just tried it in the Swale here about a year ago they seemed
to root really easily so this be careful when putting them in the shade you know
we’re just taking it as a source of fertilizer because it doesn’t grow as
well in the shade and bringing it to the shade to feed those bananas or whatever
it may be I think in this case we were really busy that day we were just wanted
a place to get rid of the material didn’t want to smother out the you know
the sunshine mimosa so we just brought it right over here to that Swale but the
best way to actually start this plant would be from cuttings so you really
want to get the old woody cuttings these green ones only seem to root and start
when they’re actually still hooked to the plant the best cutting to get would
be these ones right here when the plant gets really woody it actually starts to
make like roots right after the right off of that old woody bark of the tree
those ones start really easily you could just you know stick that in some moist
soil and usually within a couple of weeks they sprout right back out they
grow really fast like I said I mean we’re talking you know five weeks of
growth here I mean this thing is like eight foot of growth so they you know
grow super fast and I found a ratio here of maybe like one Mexican sunflower and
a couple of clumping grasses to every fruit tree I definitely find that you
need more of that carbon silica then you do the Mexican sunflower just because
this produces so much and the grasses don’t recover as quickly so let’s say we
had three you know a vetiver ray fakahatchee grass lemongrass planted
around that fruit tree and a big mexican sunflower maybe you cut one grass every
time just depending on which one recovered faster I make another video in
the whole chop and drop process for you guys again here soon so right here
behind me I have a great example of a kind of a beat up or you know Mexican
sunflower I guess the first thing I should mention is we just had Hurricane
Dorian kind of threatening Florida and I got a ton of comments everybody saying
they were worried and you know how di you guys make out and just so y’all know
we really had no problems with hurricane Doran we actually got mild rain we had
one day with a little bit of winds and what those winds did was they kind of
spread and opened up this big clump of Tithonia behind me and you can see
the whole thing is kind of fallen over and this is where you’ll start to have
that invasive problem you know this is where when it starts to lay down it can
reroute and resprout, kind of take over a bigger area so this is where the
plants kind of gotten the bad reputation and you can really see my old cuts on
this one you can see how it was opened up here in the center
and you know within a couple of seconds I can huh I could take this whole brush
down and since my banana video if you guys
notice I’ve got a bigger machete I’ve got a couple of different size machetes
and when you’re hitting the old that you know the green growth like this very
very easy to cut with the machete but when you get further down closer to the
brown growth that’s a little bit tougher the whole idea here is the whole key
here is is organization of material organizing material that’s what we’re
doing in these food forest agroforestry systems so you know right here I’m
Halden I don’t know ten pounds ten pounds of fertilizer ten pounds of
manure or however you want to look at it you know and what I like to do is I’ll
I’ll fold it up once or twice I usually won’t use this much but I’ll lay it you
know in a triangle around that fruit tree now this is pure fertilizer this is
one month of growth one week ago tomorrow we cut back these Mexican
sunflowers and you can see when you cut them back they really push out and get
lush all this beautiful green foliage and you know that green foliage is super
soft I mean you know I don’t even have a sharp machete here this is a basically
the stock blade that was on it I haven’t sharpened it yet and you can see it just
takes those leaves right off and you know and I’ll wait until it gets 8 to 10
foot again and I’ll chop and drop it again so grow your own fertilizer we
don’t need chemical fertilizers many plants can be used for building biomass
and fertilizer in the garden comfrey is another great one usually anything that
has a lot of dense green materials so I hope you guys enjoyed this video I need
to get back to chopping and dropping I got a ton of work to do today if you
guys enjoyed this please subscribe to the channel you haven’t hit that Bell
please go ahead and do so that I’ll keep you notified whenever we have a new
video coming out and most importantly… POUND DIRT!

100 thoughts on “Grow Your Own Fertilizer? Grow Tithonia diversifolia!

  1. Thanks Pete, I've been using comfrey tea for the phosphorous in it. I got some stinging nettle seed to grow next year so I don't have to use diluted urine for the nitrogen. Part of the reason was going to get a banana plant or so was for the potassium ,supposedly they die back in winter then come back the following spring, and if a person has a way to keep them at 50F or above they will fruit. My biodigester is a 5 gallon bucket.
    I will see if I can find some of the Mexican sunflower.

  2. Awesome video. great tips on propagating… I have been very unsuccessful because I was using the green part….now I know to go for the woody part.

  3. Another awesome video Pete thanks for sharing man keep it pump up over there I will keep pounding dirt over here 👍🏼 !!!!

  4. For quick easy chainsaw work I find battery unit the best, no hassles, quiet and capable enough for a couple hours, up to 6 to 8" diameter hardwood.

  5. I grow mine from seed? Grows well in the desert to if you water it doesn't like it under 10 deg Celcius stops growing thanks for the pro Tip Pete biomass is a premium out here in the outback going to try some in my bio ferment with the comfrey

  6. I planted a 350 ft row last year, 5 plants @ 18" between 2 plants of timber bamboo @ 10 ft. The sunflower became a self-mulching system alongside the bamboo plants until they matured enough to create their shade and leaf mulch. To overcome the tendency to self-root I found that if I stacked the lower hard part on top of the green tops that gives enough time for the hard part to dry up and not take root. Next I plan to use it as a vermiculture food for worms.
    If you let a lot of the flowers dry up over winter I did find a few seeds were viable, but a very small percentage and they are easy to pull out. Please report back on the chemical analysis.

  7. hello
    Pete gerat info; here in the blue ridge I use comfrey locust and mimosa for chop n drop and cover crops get roots in the soil … our variety of Mexican sunflower , Tithonia rotundifolia can become a little invasive as the seeds are viable that's good news; now I want to add it to my cover crop mix next spring Thanks Pete

  8. I love the mexican sunflower. It literally grows 4 feet in a week. Chop and drop king plant. Great work Pete def make a video about the liquid ferts with the sunflower in it

  9. pete I hav a knife that I know u want and I posted a vid of tha plants in my backyard and that wasa big moon last nite and I lov tha shadows that my plants make on tha ground at nite wif a lil breeze kikin  pound dirt homie

  10. What are your thoughts on running it through a chipper, and making a mulch out of it? I figure that might solve the rooting problems with chop-n-drop in certain areas.

  11. That Mexican sunflower I wish I had some awesome I do the same thing with papaya plants they don't carry fruit in north east TX but they look good and good mulch

  12. Awesome videos man! I own a nursery in Clearwater, I only grow rare & exotic palms, but would still love to meet you and pick your brain. You are really making me gain interest in rare fruits, one of my neighbors has a fruiting jack fruit tree. I know you are probably a very busy man, but if you do get some time to head into south Pinellas, let me know!

  13. Sterile seeds? That's probably why the Mexican Sunflower I bought in spring in the seed packet from Botanical Interests didn't grow into this lol. I was trying to chop n drop like you!

    I have been SO interested in learning this full system… I've always wondered how people have enough compost to even feed their garden that feeds their family. I want to do this without robbing Peter to pay Paul. . . meaning, I want something that takes atmospheric and solar energy with the help of microbes and doesn't mine an area of soil completely out of something.

    They used a methane digester? That's really cool, I want to do HomeBioGas for us to cook on so having plenty to toss in there for cooking gas and liquid fertilizer would be awesome.

    I ALWAYS remember that you use a silica content plant to put over it so it breaks down slower, but I always forget to look up how to spell thackahatchie grass and if it grows in Texas. While we will eventually move to Costa Rica or Kenya, we are in Texas now. I wonder if this Tithonia Diversifola plant would grow here? ….. Says zone 8-11… we are on border of 7B and 8A so maybe against the house to the south?

    Love the new JADAM/Syntropic direction for the channel, digging deeper into this stuff for people who love to watch and want to also do it

    I'll be excited one day to have a system where i have a methane digester, compost tea maker that feeds from worm bin, compost piles, chop n drop on site, and just all kinds of things that I've learned but with enough material to comfortably feed them all and keep the systems going. I think sourcing enough material on site is obviously key, but the how to and advice on that is crucial.

    Do you think whenever we move in Texas to our new place that you would be able to do online consulting just as questions come up for a fee? I love your videos and it would be great if I could email you or call you up to share my roadblock and see what you recommend to overcome it

  14. I've only got a 20 ft. section as a privacy fence, a good 10-12 ft tall now, but I love it, especially those beautiful yellow sunflowers lining my driveway…makes me smile every time…!

  15. Hey Pete quick question how wo hi ld this plant do in zone 8. I live in northeast Texas. I thought it was a perenial but most of what I see online says it's an annual.

  16. I tried, bro, but this Alabama heat cooked my Tithonia Diversifolia cuttings I got from Grower Jim; even in the shade. I'll probably try again in the Spring.

  17. Thanks for the video Pete! One time I made the mistake of chopping and dropping my Mexican sunflower all over my "yarden" beds and then covered it with a layer of mulch. It sprouted everywhere! Must have like the moist environment the mulch created. I have 3 clumps that I keep in my yard for fertilizer and I chop it down when it gets about 5 feet tall. The stems are easier to cut with my hand pruners when the plants are short. If they get tall, the stems are thick and harder to cut. It's a great plant and the flowers smell like honey!

  18. There are seeds selling online in some countries (Malaysia) and called it Mexican sunflower and grow to 2 feel and more, are they really Mexican sunflower? Thank you.

  19. Wow, that is so interesting! I can’t wait for the chop and drop video! What do you mean it needs to be used wet? Do you mean to use it when it is still fresh?

  20. Sweet plant brother, are they emulsifying the bio-mass and spraying, do you know? Sounds like an awesome cornerstone plant for a successful food forest, thanks for the wisdom as always.

  21. Wow I never knew and we get this plant All over the mountains the whole mountains is covered with this plant and it does look beautiful wen it all blooms but People take is as weed out here
    Great info thank you

  22. Ayyyyyye, not like those wannabe farms like jubilee organics, they under-staff, buy fertilizer, and false-advertise with phrases like “seed-to-seed.”

  23. 0:55 – 1:05 tithonia diversifolia seeds are absolutely NOT sterile. pretty shady way of getting ignorant people to buy cuttings from you, instead of purchasing their own seeds. lame.

  24. Hey Peter, do you have any recommended favorite sources for learning about permaculture? Maybe do a video on that?? 👌 thnx man absolutely lovin' it

  25. I can't wait for your plant sale!
    You've been a wonderful teacher and with the plant sale, also a provider. I hope you close your eyes every night knowing that you have, in fact, changed this world so much for the better. A world Gavin will inherit very soon, same as my grand sons, and for this, I thank you.

  26. Watch out Kids! Pete the destroyer with a machete! 😄😄 Yes ! Pete, you are RIGHT! after watch this VID I definitely want to grow it.

  27. Could be. I live in Manitoba in the country on 80 acres, on a gravel road. Sometimes the signal is iffy. Keep up the good work yo.

  28. I have this plant in my back yard and it's about 15' high, I have been wondering for years what kind of sun flower this was, thank you thank you thank you. For awhile it would get so big I cut it back every year, I use stump killer on it twice you can not kill this plant and I'm glad now I love cutting the flowers and putting them in a vase. : ) peace

  29. I live on the gulf coast of Texas and would really like to buy some plants from you to add to my comfrey, compost, etc. we have over 30 fruit trees, jacoticaba, bananas, papaya, berries and lots of perennial veggies all on 1/3 acre. I have not found perennial peanut here, so i could buy both from you, that would be awesome! I have been watching, learning from you since you stopped selling your "kits" this is my first comment since then … you inspire !!!
    PS made tea AND jam from hibiscus last fall and will begin harvesting calyxes soon. YUM

  30. If you live in South West Florida and want some Mexican Sunflower cuttings I would be willing to provide some. I also have a bunch of Cassava and Chaya. If you have plants and or cuttings to trade that would be awesome!

  31. Tithonia's take a lot of room. There are some nice hybrids. I removed one recently (the only one I had), simply because I don't have the space…If I had a farm or nursery of some size, though, I'd grow a bunch ! Great video !

  32. Exceptional video Pete, I love listening to you. I always learn so much from you. I am telling everyone I know to subscribe.

  33. When you coming to Guatemala for a Perma trip? Me and my buddies have multiple perma farms to show you around. I been farming for over 15 years here and we would love to host you…

  34. ….i hate LIQUID CONCENTRATED NUTRIENTS. Marijuana is grown with (CLN) and completely eliminates FLAVOR from smoked buds. Plus is makes smoking the plant THAT MUCH MORE carcinogenic. BURNT. Got ORGANIC weed??

  35. Hi Pete, any issues adding too much nitrogen to the fruit trees with this method? I’ve got a Celeste fig that has several fruits but has recently gone through a huge green growth spurt and the fruits have stagnated . I’ve also got a Barbados cherry that hasn’t set fruit and I’m wondering if I’ve got too much nitrogen from all the chop and drop of Mexican sunflower.

  36. Did you say the tithonia diversifolia produces sterile seed? I went and checked to see if I had the wrong plant but I’ve grown this plant from seed. I got the seed from a neighbor originally and their plant and mine grew to 12 ft. I recently purchased seed to grow at my new home some now I’m wondering if I have the wrong seed. Thanks

  37. New subscriber here, really a great informative video Pete. Thank-you. You said the Mexican sunflower cannot be grown from seeds? I bought and grew mine from seeds, however, I do not know the botanical name of mine. Wikipedia only mentions Tithonia diversifolia, so I'm lost as to what I have. Do you know anything that might be different, mine from yours? Also, I might need to treat mine as an annual since I live in Western N.C. My garden is a large annual veggie garden with a would-be orchard and grapevine and the like. My entire crops are zero chemical and only natural biomass as fertilizer.

  38. Love this plant too. I use my ryobi battery chainsaw on the thick stalks,works great. I plant it around all my young fruit trees,chop and drop all summer then let it grow taller around the fruit trees in winter to protect them if we get a freeze.

  39. I did some research on tithonia diversifolia and it said it does propagate by seed.

  40. You know I love my tithonia! I got mine from one cutting. Up here in north Florida, (Jax) they do grow slow the first year, but hold on to your butts after that. I have at least 10 clumps.

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