Best Homemade Natural Garden Fertilizers
A fertilizer is any material of natural or artificial origin that is supplied to soil or to plant tissues to improve their growth and productivity. Fertilizers boost the natural fertility of the soil or restores the chemical elements taken from the soil by previous crops.
Organic fertilizers upgrade the garden soil by loosening up the dirt and encouraging air movement to the root. Rich in natural ingredients, these fertilizers enhance soil structure, fertility of the soil, quality of groundwater, remove chemical imbalance viably, and increase fungal and plant-friendly bacterial activity. In this article, we will learn various natural garden fertilizers, their importance and effects on your garden or lawn. You will also learn how to make a homemade fertilizer!
1. Sea Weed
Seaweed as an organic fertilizer is a rich resource that washes up on beaches throughout the world. It provides plant nutrients, such as phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium and calcium. It can be mixed wet into compost, or can be dried for easier transport.
Seaweed is an effective soil conditioner and improves aeration and soil drainage when added to compost or tilled directly into the soil. It has a neutral to slightly alkaline pH and can aid in neutralizing acidic soil which acts as a benefit for seaside gardens that are usually acidic.
Instead of collecting seashells, beachcombers should collect seaweed as that will provide a free source of fertilizer. Additionally, it also cleans up beaches, making them more attractive for recreation. Carry a few big buckets when you visit the beach to collect the seaweed. Both green and brown types of seaweed are ideal for fertilizer. Ask the local authorities, though, before collecting seaweed from a protected beach.
To prepare seaweed fertilizer, wash the seaweed thoroughly with fresh water to get rid of salts and spread it in a thin layer, or spread it on a hard surface and allow summer rains to leach the salt out. Putting it in a rain barrel will also serve the same purpose. Do not use fresh seaweed without washing it! The salt in it will kill or burn your plants.
Mulch is an organic material that is spread over your grass to improve the soil. It works as a fertilizer and you don’t need to buy it from the store because you can use grass clippings and leaves from your own yard or lawn.
Mulching returns nutrients back into the soil. When done appropriately, mulching returns about 2% potassium, 4% nitrogen and 1% phosphorus. These are the same three nutrients which are contained in virtually every fertilizer. Mulching can supply your lawn 25% of its total nutritional requirement for the year, which is equivalent to one entire fertilizer treatment.
Mulching also saves time, money and labor. You don’t need to rake up leaves or grass, you can buy less fertilizer, and less trash is generated from your lawn.
To obtain mulch from grass clippings, when mowing, don’t bag the grass. Leave it on your lawn to add vital organic matter to your soil. Ensure the grass clippings are small enough to settle below the surface of the lawn and decompose. This can be done with a regular lawn mower but is best achieved with a mulching mower. Some mowers come with special blades you can attach at the time of mulching.
Leaves are a great fertilizer and come free of cost for your grass and garden beds. To obtain mulch from leaves, as the leaves fall onto the lawn, simply mow over it to chop them up into tiny pieces like you would do with grass clippings. Make sure the leaves are mostly or completely dry. You might have to make a couple of passes with the mower depending on the thickness of the leaves.
3. Cat And Dog Food
Cat and dog food is a good substitute to regular fertilizer since it adds a steady release of essential nitrogen and other nutrients for plants to grow.
Cat and dog food contains several nutrients and proteins. These nutrients can be essential to plants as a fertilizer. Cat and dog food does not directly supply nutrients to the plants, but with secondary action. The bacteria firstly breaks down the food into nutrients which are then available for plants to use.
However, once mixed evenly with the soil, microbes and bacteria will have a good time breaking down and processing the proteins contained in the food.
Apart from the fresh odor, the breakdown of the proteins will also release some smelly gasses such as Hydrogen Sulfide gas, which is a basic byproduct of protein synthesis. For this reason, it is recommended that cat and dog food be applied to plants grown in the garden and outdoors.
Applying Cat or Dog food to the soil correctly is of prime importance for preventing unwanted animals from eating the soil and digging up the plants. The Cat and Dog food should be blended well in 2 to 4 inches with topsoil first before adding it to your plant pots or garden plants.
Otherwise, having any type of pet food in the soil can attract unwanted attention which can uncover the decaying food and bring up some unpleasant smell with it. To avoid this you can cover the top layer of soil by mulching that can help prevent this to happen as it creates a barrier for curious pets.
Some consideration for pets and other wild animals should be taken when adding dog and pet food as a fertilizer to the soil and it should be done in areas away from pets.
4. Coffee Grounds
Used coffee grounds are the leftovers after the brewing process when you prepare coffee. You can place these coffee grounds directly onto the soil and use it as a fertilizer.
The advantage of using coffee grounds as a fertilizer is that it adds organic material to the soil, which helps in improving drainage, aeration, and water retention in the soil. The used coffee grounds will also help to sustain microorganisms vital to plant growth as well as attract earthworms.
To use coffee grounds as fertilizer, mix the coffee grounds into the top few inches of soil or, just sprinkle the grounds on top and leave it alone around your plants in your garden. When mixed specially with dry materials in smaller amounts, coffee grounds will give up their nitrogen.
Used coffee grounds are typically almost neutral in pH, so they shouldn’t cause concerns about their acidity. Make sure not to use too many coffee grounds or pile them up. The small particles can lock together, making a water resistant barrier in your garden.
You can also prepare coffee ground “tea” as a fertilizer. Add 2 cups of used coffee grounds to a 5-gallon bucket of water. Let the “tea” steep for a few hours or overnight. You can use this mixture as a liquid fertilizer for container plants and your garden. It also works well as a foliar feed, you can spray it directly on the leaves and stems of your plants.
Manure for the garden is the organic matter that comes from various animals. Livestock manure is a key fertilizer in sustainable and organic soil management. Manure supplies plant nutrients and can be a superb soil conditioner. Appropriately managed manure applications recycle nutrients to crops, protect water quality, and improve soil quality. It is most productively used in combination with cover cropping, crop rotation, green manuring, and liming.
It is very easy to prepare organic manure at home. You can convert your daily waste into rich, organic manure and grow flowers, vegetables or plants with it.
In this process, three pots are required.
- First, segregate your household waste into wet and dry in your kitchen. Leftovers of food, tea bags, and fruit peels, are wet waste whereas plastic, paper, and packaging is considered dry waste.
- Then put both these wastes in two different containers in the kitchen. When the wet waste container is full, put its contents into the first compost pot.
- Now add dry leaves of the same amount as the waste and semi-composted material, buttermilk or cow dung to start with the decomposition process.
- Turn the pile around alternate days. Keep the pile with proper dampness. If it is too dry add water and stir, if it is too wet, add dry leaves and stir.
- Once it is full, leave the pot open for 30-45 days for the decomposition to occur. Then move the semi-composted matter into a larger container or bin.
- After two months the waste will turn into rich compost that can be used as manure.
6. Tree Leaves
Fallen autumn tree leaves are one of the most effective organic fertilizers, as they contain virtually every nutritional element your plants require. Never overlook them as garden and lawn compost.
Tree leaves are the end source of all of the nutrients a tree’s roots take from the ground. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Sulfur, Potassium, Calcium, Zinc, Boron, Manganese, Copper, and more are found in ample amounts in leaves, and those elements are beneficial for feeding any plant. The annual addition of those leaves into your garden beds or lawn, along with other forms of compost, will aid in creating a rich, dark soil with superb tilth.
Shredded tree leaves can be a great addition to your compost pile. However, they are very high in carbon content (a 54:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio), so make sure that you have got enough “green” material like grass clippings, kitchen scraps, manure (poultry or horse only) or blood meal in the pile so the leaves break down in an appropriate manner. Without adding nitrogen they will mat together and turn into one big clump of dead, wet leaves. If your garden is uncultivated over the winter, work the shredded leaves into the soil as soon as they fall so they will decompose over the winter and early spring.
Match sticks contain sulfur, potassium chlorate, phosphorus, a small amount of magnesium, and ferric oxide. Some types of match sticks include red phosphorus too. If you have missed your fertilizing schedule due to lack of time, matches can make a small difference in improving your plant’s health.
The phosphorus in matchsticks help in creating a good root system. It is also excellent for herbs, fruits and vegetables. Magnesium and sulfur help in chlorophyll production, which means your plants will have greener leaves. However, the matches are good for small container plants and may not work for very large trees and plants.
It’s not simple to determine how much fertilizer the plant needs. Therefore, to be on a safer side you can poke 10-15 matchsticks per pot. When you water the plants, it will dissolve the matchsticks’ heads, slowly releasing magnesium, phosphorus, and sulfur into the soil, which helps sustain the plants slowly and steadily.
Do not use spent match sticks as fertilizer. When a match is lit, the plant elements like sulfur and magnesium oxidize into different forms. For this reason, burnt or used matches cannot work as a fertilizer. Use new matchsticks every time.
8. Cooking Water
You can use cooking water, such as from pasta and vegetables to provide your plants with extra nutrition. The next time you boil pasta or steam some vegetables in your kitchen, in place of pouring the water down the drain, remember to use it as a fertilizer in your garden or in your house to keep them lush and green.
You can also use water from boiling eggs, which is full of calcium that your plant requires to grow. This method of watering your plants works really well as it acts like a fertilizer to provide your plants the nutrients they need to sustain. This is a best alternative if you do not have the space or time to develop a compost pile.
When you boil food such as pasta, potatoes, or eggs many of the micronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium are boiled off into the water. So, after you let the water cool down, not only will you give your plants a nice drink, they will also get a bit of much needed fertilizer from the nutrients contained in the water. There are many benefits of using cooking water to feed your plants.
Not only is cooking water resourceful and cost effective, the fertilizer it supplies your plants gives them a more stable and steady growth period. The water will help encourage natural nutrient storage within the soil. This will eliminate the need to regularly fertilize and water your plants and provide more water-retention and longevity to your soil.
9. Grass Clippings
Grass clippings are the cut grasses that are left behind or that are trapped in a grass catcher by your mower when you prune your lawn. Grass clippings are an abundant, free source of nutrients.
Grass clippings left on the lawn after mowing, add nutrients (especially nitrogen) to the soil and stimulate biological activity. Research has shown that leaving short clippings (one-half inch or less) can supply up to 40 percent of a lawn’s yearly fertilizer requirements.
If you notice that your clippings are thick, wet and suffocating the lawn, it’s best to rake them up and compost them. But, if you use a lawn mower that turns the clippings into fine bits with a few passes, much of your fertilization is done when you mow. Make sure to mow regularly removing one-third of the blade’s length and keep your mower blades sharp.
10. Powdered Milk
Using milk as a fertilizer has been an old-time remedy in the garden since generations. Feeding plants with milk helps with plant growth and can also reduce several issues in the garden, from calcium deficiencies to powdery mildew and viruses.
Raw, or unpasteurized, cow’s milk provides the same benefits for plants that it has for animals and people. It contains beneficial vitamin B, proteins, and sugars that are vital for plants, improving their overall health and crop yields. The microbes that feed on the fertilizer constituents of milk are also beneficial to the soil. Like us, plants use calcium for growth.
You can use powdered, fresh, or evaporated milk. It is important to dilute the milk with water before you use it as a fertilizer. Mix a solution of milk and water by 1:1 ratio. When using milk fertilizer as a foliar spray, fill the solution into a spray bottle and apply to plant leaves. The leaves will absorb the milk solution. However, remember that some plants, like tomatoes, are vulnerable to developing fungal diseases if the fertilizer stays on the leaves for a long time. If the solution is not being absorbed properly, you can spray them with water or gently wipe down the leaves.
Less milk is needed if you have a lot of plants to feed, as with a large garden area. Using a garden hose sprayer is a popular method for feeding plants with milk fertilizer in large gardens, as the flowing water keeps it diluted. Keep spraying until the complete area is coated. Spread about 5 gallons of milk per acre. Allow the milk to absorb into the ground. Fertilize every few months, or spray once at the starting of the growing season and again during mid-season.
11. Wood Ash
Wood ash is an excellent source of potassium and lime for your garden. In addition, using ashes in the garden or lawn also provides several trace elements that plants need to flourish.
Wood ash fertilizer is best used either by lightly scattering it, or by first being composted together with the rest of your compost, since wood ash will produce lye and salts if it gets wet. In small quantities, the salt and lye will not cause problems, but in larger amounts, the salt and lye may burn your plants. Composting fireplace ashes enable the salt and lye to be leached away.
Moreover, not every wood ash fertilizer is the same. If the fireplace ashes in your compost are made basically from hardwoods, such as maple and oak, the minerals and nutrients in your wood ash will be much higher. If the fireplace ashes in your compost are made mainly by burning softwoods such as fir and pine, there will be fewer minerals and nutrients in the ash.
Eggshell fertilizer is made from crushed eggshells, which are rich in calcium carbonate, an essential mineral for boosting plants’ cell walls. The shells also include other minerals that help plants grow, including phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. For this reason, eggshells are a productive and cheap fertilizer for houseplants and outdoor garden soil.
There are many benefits of using eggshells as a fertilizer. Eggshells lower soil acidity. Several varieties of plants prefer low acidity in the soil to absorb nutrients and keep off toxic elements like aluminum. The calcium carbonate present in eggshells lowers soil pH levels, making the soil more alkaline than acidic.
Eggshells also control pests. The persistent smell of eggs inside the shell keeps away deer, while the sharp edges of dry, crushed shells are harmful for the soft bodies of snails and slugs.
Eggshells promote root growth as the calcium carbonate in eggshells helps to strengthen a plant’s roots so it can grow stronger and faster. Just crush clean, dry eggshells into a fine powder. Add the powdered eggshells to boiling water, then cover and store the mixture for one week. Uncover it only once daily to stir it. After seven days, pour the concoction directly into the soil above the plant’s roots.
13. Kitchen Scraps
Kitchen scraps which mainly consist of food waste are composed of organic matter which can be used for composting to make fertilizer. It is an eco-friendly and effective way of disposing kitchen scrap in your kitchen.
You can turn the leftover food or smelly items from the kitchen waste into a highly organic fertilizer rich in nutrients that is beneficial to grow vegetables or flowers. Things like twigs, paper, and leaves are rich in carbon while coffee and tea grounds, grass, fruit, and vegetables are rich in nitrogen. An appropriate mixture is key to good compost.
You can prepare the compost by following the steps listed below:
- Segregate your edible kitchen waste such as vegetable and fruit peels, small amounts of wasted cooked food in a container.
- Now collect some dry organic matter like sawdust, dried leaves, and wood ash in a small container.
- Take a big container or a bucket or earthen pot and drill 4-5 holes around the container at different levels to let air inside.
- Fill the base of the container with a layer of soil.
- Start adding food waste in alternate layers of wet waste (vegetable and fruit peels, food scraps) dry waste (sawdust, straw, dried leaves).
- Cover this container with a plank or plastic sheet of wood to help hold on moisture and heat.
- Check the container every few days and if you notice the pile is too dry, sprinkle some water so that it is moist.
You can also include saw dust and wood ash to the compost to help accelerate the composting process. Fruit and vegetable peelings are the top food waste you should use. To make a nutrient-rich fertilizer, add some natural waste to your compost like the leaves and grass clippings from your lawn.
Weeds are the unwanted wild plants growing in competition with cultivated plants.You can use the weeds and grass clippings present in your lawn or garden to make a fertilizer “tea”. It is high in nitrogen and greatly improves your plants in midsummer when they run short of soil fertility.
You can prepare the fertilizer tea by following the steps listed below:
- Next time you are getting rid of weeds in your garden, collect chopped weeds into a bucket or trash can while chopping them up as you go.
- When the container is nearly half full, fill it with water. Don’t use chlorinated water; rainwater is the best.
- Cover the top to keep mosquitoes at bay. You can use a piece of row cover or screening.
- Stir daily for 3 days to 2 weeks. Otherwise, pour it from one bucket into another to mix things up and keep it aerated.
- Sieve off the liquid to use as a foliar spray or fertilizer. After you sieve off the liquid, get back the solids to your compost pile. It can be diluted or used concentrated on established plants. Since plant leaves are more inclined to absorb nutrients faster than roots, foliar feeding is a productive way to fertilize versus a soil drench.
Fertilizer teas are effective and free. Apply them not more than every two weeks or when your plants require a boost. They are especially effective on newly transplanted ones and those in setting fruit or blossom.
15. Banana Peels
Banana peels are good for gardens and lawns since they contain 42 percent potassium, one of the three major ingredients of fertilizer together with nitrogen and phosphorus that is shown on fertilizer labels as NPK. Indeed, banana peels are the highest organic sources of potassium.
Potassium helps plants in moving water and nutrients between cells. Potassium supports plants’ stems and also fights against diseases. It is an important element to produce flowers, and even make fruits taste better. Potassium will also make your plants more drought-resistant. Without sufficient potassium, plant growth becomes poor and it increases the protein content of your plants.
In short, potassium helps plants with fruiting and flowering, including fruit trees and rose bushes, rather than for their foliage, such as lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard.
Banana peels are a good fertilizer also because of what they do not contain. They contain absolutely no nitrogen. While plants need nitrogen, however, too much nitrogen will produce lots of green leaves but few berries or fruits. This shows potassium-rich banana peels are beneficial for plants like peppers, tomatoes, or flowers.
Banana peels also contain calcium, which prevents blossom end rot in tomatoes. The manganese in banana peels helps in photosynthesis, while the sodium in banana peels aids in water flow between cells. They even contain traces of magnesium and sulfur, elements that help produce chlorophyll.
You can just bury banana peels near your plants where they will release their nutrients as they break down. You can also brew banana peel to make fertilizer tea by putting banana peels in a container with water and covering it. Let this steep for a week or two and you will have a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer. Unlike solid or powdered fertilizers, this liquid fertilizer goes directly to the roots and helps the plants instantly.
Human hair can be used in place of chemical fertilizers for some plants like lettuce. The hair, from hair-salon waste and which is manufactured into cubes from barbershop, provides nitrogen for plants as it decomposes.
Once the degradation and mineralization of hair waste begins, it can provide enough nutrients to container-grown plants and ensure similar yields to those achieved with the popularly used fertilizers in horticulture.
Both lettuce and wormwood grow with hair as a fertilizer as they would do with chemical fertilizers. The plants use about 50 percent of the nitrogen contained in the hair. The only thing is that hair takes a while to start decomposing and releasing nutrients into the soil, so it has to be used together with more fast-acting fertilizers.
Phosphate rich organic manure is a type of fertilizer used as an alternative to single super phosphate and diammonium phosphate.
Phosphate rich organic manure is produced by co-composting high-grade rock phosphate in very fine size. The finer the rock phosphate, the better is the agronomic effectiveness of Phosphate rich organic manure.
Research shows that this substance may be a more efficient way of adding phosphorus to soil than applying chemical fertilizers. Other advantages of phosphate rich organic manure are that it supplies phosphorus to the second crop planted in a treated area as effectively as the first, and that it can be created utilizing acidic waste solids recovered from the release of biogas plants.
What Is The Importance Of Fertilizing Lawn?
Fertilizing lawn is important as it provides the following benefits:
Lawn Fertilizer Works With Important Nutrients in Soil
To obtain a healthy lawn you will require high soil quality. Using fertilizer for your lawn is the best way to do so. Gradually, your soil naturally loses several important nutrients it needs to survive. If you really want that lush, green lawn, you have to replace them with fertilizer. A fertilizer replaces and restores the vital nutrients your lawn needs for a great look.
Your Lawn Needs Fertilizer as Much as Sunshine and Water
Grass requires the right amount of water and sunshine to be healthy and green, but it needs feeding too! Your lawn requires nutrients to flourish. For soil to be nutrient-rich, it needs 3 key elements:
If your lawn doesn’t have even one of these, it will look dry and brown.
It’s Easy to Use
One of the best reasons to use fertilizer is that you can spread it yourself. Make sure to spread it evenly and follow the instructions. It’s simple and it will make your lawn look better than ever.
Your Plants Will Grow Faster
Fertilizer is an essential part of your lawn’s diet and it will indeed help your grass grow faster. You can’t depend solely on your soil for great, healthy plant life. You will get better results by using fertilizer.
Lawn Fertilizer is Cost Effective
Like most homeowners, you are possibly worried about cost. Using fertilizer is usually quite cost effective, rather free when you are using homemade natural fertilizers. After fertilization, all you have to worry about is general maintenance.
How Can You Make A Homemade Fertilizer?
Listed below are instructions with recipes to prepare various homemade fertilizers.
Coffee Ground Fertilizer
- Place a cookie sheet with newspaper.
- Spread your used coffee grounds out on the sheet, and let them dry completely.
- Sprinkle the grounds around the bottom of your acid-loving plants.
- Save your eggs shells and let them air dry.
- Place the dried shells in a blender and make a fine powder.
- Sprinkle the shell powder around the plants in your garden.
- Save your fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, saw dust, newspapers, and other compostable materials.
- Collect them in a compost bin or pile. Add a bit of water from time to time so it doesn’t get dried up, and turn your pile to speed up the composting process.
- When everything has been decomposed into a dark, rich soil, it’s time to spread it in your garden.
If you are interested in maintaining a beautiful, green lawn or garden, get in touch with Edenapp today! With adequate fertilization, your lawn will look better than ever. Contact Edenapp and request for professional services.
Lawn care is all in the details, and we take care of every single one to give you the lawn of your dreams. Contact us today!