A good gardener understands and appreciates the value of good fertilizer. Though one can always purchase fertilizers from the market, the shift to organic gardening has allowed gardeners to make their own natural fertilizer through common items from the backyard, pantry, and kitchen refuse.
Organic fertilizers are a great source of nutrients and work slowly over the long-term. They also help build up the soil over time. Composed of organic materials such as manure, compost, and other products lead us to perhaps the best benefit of such fertilizers – they can be made at home. In this article, we take a look at some of the DIY fertilizers that you can use for a variety of needs.
Table of Content
Make Zero Waste Plant Fertilizer with Everyday Items
1. Weedy Tea
Beginning with the easiest one, here we have a fertilizer that is made from weeds. To make this homemade fertilizer, collect all sorts of weed from around the garden, especially ones that have taproots. These could include the likes of wild fennel, comfrey, and dandelions.
The taproots will allow the plants to absorb more nutrients that will ultimately be passed on to the leaves. As the leaves are put into the weed tea, the nutrients will percolate into the water and will be ready to be poured into the garden.
To create weed tea, it is important to get the proportions right. For best results, go with 1:5 ratio – 1 part weeds, 5 parts water. Put all your weeds into a bucket, pour water, and cover the bucket with a lid. Let is remain so for two weeks. Thereafter, dilute the weedy tea to a ratio of 1:10. Once the weeds are decomposed, fling them in the compost and begin again.
2. Banana Peel Fertilizers
Banana peels are saturated with nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. As such, they are a special treat for plants, especially roses. A banana peel fertilizer can be made in many ways.
Banana peel tea
To create a banana peel tea, soak a few banana skins (two to three) into half a liter of water. Leave it for a few days for the nutrients to leach into the water. This water can be used without having to dilute it in your garden. The peels can be put in the compost.
Banana smoothies can be made in a couple of ways. The first way is to blend the peels with some water. What you end up with will be a kind of peel slurry that can be poured at the base of your plants. The other way is to use old, spoiled bananas and blend in with some liquid. The resultant smoothie can be poured around the plants and in a vegetable garden.
3. Seaweed Fertilizer
Seaweed fertilizers are quite easy to make if you leave close to a beach. Seaweed is full of nutrients that the plants in your garden are going to relish. These include magnesium, potassium, phosphate, and nitrogen. One of the most unique aspects of seaweeds is that it helps fight against the shock that plants and seedlings may go through when they are moved around.
To make seaweed fertilizer, it is best to stick with the 1:5 ratio. Go to your nearest beach and search for seaweeds. You don’t have to get a lot. Make sure that you rinse the seaweeds and remove the excess salt.
Thereafter, place them in a bucket, cover them with water, and let it sit for a couple of months in a dark place so they can decompose. Make sure that you place the bucket away from the house as it can be quite malodorous. Dilute the resultant fertilizer to a ratio of 1:2 and use it as necessary.
4. Kitchen Scraps and Refuse
Most people end up throwing away their kitchen waste into the garbage, not knowing what wonders it can make for your garden. Instead of letting the kitchen refuse go to waste use it to make your own compost. The compost will release the nutrients slowly and a garden that has been composted properly can do without reapplication of fertilizer for a year or two.
Another great thing about compost is that it helps the soil retain its moisture – something that is important for plants and vegetable gardens to grow properly during dry seasons.
There are as many sources of manure as there are types of animals. Cows, chickens, horses, and bats are some of the most common sources of manure for a gardener or a farm owner. Manure is rich in nitrogen and many other nutrients but it has to be used carefully.
Using raw manure may end up causing more harm than good as it is highly acidic. In fact, it contains more nutrients than your plants require that can end up burning them. The ideal thing to do is to use composted manure.
Manure that has been composted is less acidic and less packed with nutrients and can be used to improve your soil’s water retention capabilities without running the risk of ruining your plants. The best thing about manure compost is that you don’t have to wait too long either. It can be used as an odor-free soil fertilizer after two to six months.
6. Coffee Grounds
There are a lot of plants that thrive best in acidic soil. These include the likes of roses, tomatoes, rhododendron, and blueberries. For them, recycled coffee grounds can be used as a fertilizer as it helps to acidify the soil.
As your DIY project, you can prepare coffee grounds fertilizer in a couple of ways – either sprinkle the used coffee grounds over the soil surface or add water to the grounds to make ‘garden coffee’ and pour on your gardens. To make garden coffee, soak as much as six cups of coffee grounds for a whole week, and use it on your acid-hungry plants.
There are many plants that don’t like acid and thrive only in less acidic soil. Lime is one of the things that you can use in your garden for that effect. Lime also provides plants with calcium that is essential for them. Of course, you can buy lime from the market as it is a natural fertilizer, but there is a cheaper alternative if you are looking to save that money.
You can save eggshells from the kitchen, wash them, and crush them for your garden use. In fact, eggshells are composed of 93% calcium carbonate, which is basically lime. It also is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to lower the acidity of your soil as it doesn’t require much preparation and time. Simply put the eggshells on the soil around the plant and let them decompose.
8. Tree Leaves
Nature is self-sustaining and even the dead leaves can be used to give life to a dying plant. Instead of bagging up the fallen leaves to dispose of them, keep them as your natural fertilizer instead. Leaves have trace minerals that lure worms, help the soil to retain moisture, and turn heavy soils light.
Tree leaves can be converted into a homemade fertilizer in a couple of ways – Mix the crushes leaves or till them into the soil, or use them in mulch and fertilize your plants with it.
9. Compost Tea
This is similar to how we used manure as a natural fertilizer. But instead, we have homemade compost. Homemade compost is made by mixing 1 part organic water and 5 parts water. In the gardening world, homemade compost is called black gold, while the resultant compost tea as the golden liquid.
To create compost tea, shovel in the compost in a bucket and cover it with water. Stir it for a bit and let it sit for four to five days. After the end of this period, strain it through with a piece of cloth such as an old t-shirt. Dilute it to a ratio of 1:10 and use it in your garden.
10. Grass Clippings
If you routinely mow your lawn, make sure to collect the grass clippings as these can be reused in your garden. Grass clippings, along with tree leaves, can be used to make mulch which blocks weeds. Furthermore, it is also quite rich in nitrogen, a nutrient that is essential for most plants.
A good gardener doesn’t just know what is essential for the plants in his garden, but also how to go about creating the best soil environment possible in the most effective way. We hope that through this article you are now sufficiently informed as to how you can make natural fertilizers at no apparent cost.
Different types of plants require different soil compositions which is why a gardener needs to be aware of what a particular type of plant would require. Only then should s/he go about adding a homemade fertilizer into the garden. If you feel we’ve missed out on any such fertilizer that can easily be made at home then do let us know in the comment section. We would love to hear what you use to care for your garden.