Do you want to save money on your garden fertilizers this year? Do you want a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option for fertilizing your plants? If so, then you’ve come to the right place to learn how to make your own fertilizer. It’s easy to do, it’s a great cost saving measure, and there are many different recipes that you can choose from.
In this blog post we’ll discuss the 15 best homemade fertilizer recipes. So whether you’re a lawn and garden enthusiast or just starting out, these recipes will help you get the most from your plants; your garden will be the envy of the neighborhood!
What is Fertilizer?
Fertilizer is a substance that is added to the soil in order to provide plants with nutrients. These nutrients can be in the form of organic matter, such as compost, or in the form of chemically-sourced, inorganic compounds. Fertilizers are used to supplement the existing nutrients in the soil, as well as to correct nutrient deficiencies.
There are many different types of fertilizer available on the market, and the type that you choose will depend on your plants’ needs. For example, some plants require more nitrogen than others, while different plants may need more phosphorus or potassium.
How Does Fertilizer Work?
Fertilizers are effective because they facilitate the growth of plants and vegetables, and keep them healthy. This can be done in two ways. The first is to provide nutrients that the plants need and can use to grow. There are three main nutrients provided by fertilizers – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are called macronutrients. There are also multiple other nutrients that are found in lesser amounts.
The second function that some fertilizers may have is to improve the soil’s ability to retain water and support its structural integrity as well as aerating it. However, this is more rare and is not as effective in relation to the nutrients fertilizers provide.
The three primary nutrients that plants need are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These nutrients are called macronutrients because they are so necessary, and are essential for plant growth and development. In order for plants to be able to use these nutrients, they must be in a form that the plant can absorb, and that is where fertilizers come in.
Nitrogen is used chiefly to help with leaf and flower petal growth in plants and grass, and gives grass blades and plant leaves their vibrant green color.
Phosphorus, which is also sometimes called Phosphate, is the main ingredient necessary for growth in flowers, fruits, roots, and seeds. It’s needed for plant and vegetable growth at every stage.
Potassium benefits plant stems and roots so that they can fully develop and grow healthily, and aids in water circulation within soil, turf grass, plants, and vegetables. It also helps with fruiting and flowering, and is seen sometimes on fertilizer labels as Potash.
In addition to the main NPK macronutrients, there are also many other micronutrients that plants require, such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). There are also multiple micronutrients including copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), and boron (B).
The nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) ratio is perhaps the most important consideration when choosing fertilizer. Your goal when purchasing fertilizer should be to select a concentration that is suitable for your plant’s species type, based on its unique needs, and what your soil needs to thrive.
NPK ratios in fertilizers are generally listed in ratio form, such as 10-10-10 or 4-3-4. The sequence is always Nitrogen (N) first, followed by Phosphorus (P), and then Potassium (K), so 10-5-8 means the fertilizer is made of 10% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, and 8% potassium.
Organic Vs. Inorganic Fertilizer
Fertilizer either comes as organic or inorganic. These two fertilizer categories are mostly demarcated by their nutrient composition and their application methods.
Inorganic fertilizers are the most commonly used fertilizers for your lawn and garden, and are manufactured with chemical synthesis. They are frequently made from minerals that have been extracted from the earth, but they might include nutrients obtained from different sources as well.
These fertilizers are often quite concentrated and cater only to what the plants absolutely require and nothing more. They focus primarily on delivering the three specific NPK macronutrients to plants so that they may develop full and healthy.
Organic Fertilizers are those that are made of plant or animal materials, such as compost, manures, blood meal, alfalfa, kelp meal, and bone meal. The N, P, and K levels in organic fertilizers are usually lower than those in inorganic fertilizers, but they enhance the soil with additional vital organic matter that assists water movement and collaborates with living micro-organisms in the ground soil to nourish the plants and their roots.
Synthetic chemicals break down faster than organic ones and therefore are better at providing immediate nutritional aid, but organic fertilizers are much longer lasting.
15 DIY Fertilizers You Can Make At Home
We’ve put together a list of ingredients that you are likely to find around your home, or can easily obtain from free, natural sources. Many of these ingredients have specific nutrients or minerals through which they can help your plants to grow strong and lush.
Manure, which is one of the oldest and most commonly used types of fertilizer throughout history, is also your best bet for a great homemade fertilizer.
Manure is a form of organic matter that is commonly used as a fertilizer, such as cow dung, compost, or green manuring. It may be used as a fertilizer or mulch to improve the soil’s fertility and structure. Manure is high in nutrients, and helps your plants grow by increasing the amount of nutrients available to them. It can also help your soil to better retain water, and it reduces the amount of weeds in your lawn.
If you or a neighbor has chickens, cattle, rabbits, or horses, then ask to use their droppings as manure! They all make for excellent fertilizer. You can also use composted vegetable trimmings and other organic waste to make manure, if you don’t have access to animals.
Manure has a significantly greater amount of nitrogen than other organic fertilizers, so over-application or using it before it has aged properly might cause your plants and grass to burn from the excess of nitrogen. Also, it is highly unhygienic, so make sure to wear gloves and wash your hands and clothes after handling it.
Compost is one of the best ways to fertilize your garden. Compost is any decaying organic matter such as grass clippings, leaves, food waste, or any other organic scraps that you would otherwise throw away.
Compost may be used to feed your plants without resorting to synthetic fertilizers. Compost also aids in the improvement of soil structure, making it more able to retain water and fight pests during droughts or harsh conditions.
Compost might be used before or after planting, as a mulch or a fertilizer combined into the soil, and it can also be used to refresh your grass’s soil between its growth seasons.
It’s very easy to make your own compost at home using kitchen scraps and organic material that otherwise would end up in a landfill. For example, you can make compost “tea”, which is just a small amount of compost mixed with water in a jar. Shake this mixture daily for a week, and keep it out of direct sunlight.
The mixture could ferment, so make sure the lid is not on too tight, or else the jar could explode. After you’ve done this, pour the concoction over your plants and in your garden soil.
Mulched Grass Clippings and Leaves
If you have an organic lawn, use the mulching setting when mowing it. Then, be sure to leave the mulched grass clippings and on the soil. Grass clippings half an inch to one inch in length are a wonderful weed-blocking mulch, as well as being high in nitrogen, which is an important plant nutrient.
This is particularly useful in the fall, when you have fallen tree leaves on your grass. Simply mulch them up along with the grass and leave them to compost into the soil. Leaves are high in trace minerals, attract earthworms, help to retain moisture, and will help make hard soils lighter. You may either till the leaves into your soil (or mix crushed leaves into potting soil) or use them as a mulch.
Coffee grounds can be used to fertilize your garden. Coffee is naturally acidic, so it helps to acidify the soil, which helps plants like blueberries, rhododendron, roses, and tomatoes to thrive. Also, coffee grounds also contain nitrogen, potassium, and magnesium, which are all essential nutrients for plants. The grounds can be added directly to the soil or simply sprinkled around the roots of your plants as a top dress.
Coffee grounds can also be used to make coffee fertilizer “tea”. Simply steep the leftover coffee grounds in water for a few hours, then pour the mixture over your plants. Used coffee grounds can also be recycled into your compost heap; composting coffee grounds can help to improve the texture of your soil and add nutrients to your plants when you mix the compost in.
If you’ve ever used lime on your garden, you know it has several advantages: foremost among them is that it raises the pH level of your soil for plants that do better in less acidic soil. It also promotes healthy soil microbial activity, and it adds lots of calcium to the soil, which is a necessary element.
Well, it turns out that eggshells are made up of 93% calcium carbonate, which has the scientific name for lime. So, you can save the eggshells from the eggs you use at home, crush them up, and then put them to use in your garden. Simply crush them up finely, sprinkle them into the soil and lightly mix them in, or mix them into another fertilizer like compost or manure.
Bananas are high in potassium, and their peels contain a lot of it. You may extract the nutrients from a banana peel in a variety of ways. Firstly, you can blend it up and use it as fertilizer; you can soak the peel for a few days to make a “tea” that you can spray on your plants; or you can just plant the peel whole in your garden near any plants that need extra potassium.
However, for best applications, we strongly encourage drying and grinding your banana peels before spreading the powder and mixing it into the soil. This both prevents undesirable visitors like flies, raccoons, and possums, and delivers the necessary nutrients to your plants’ root systems as soon as possible.
Alfalfa meal is a by-product obtained from dried and powdered leaves of the alfalfa plant, which belongs to the pea family. It’s primarily used as livestock feed, although the ground-up version may be useful in composting.
Alfalfa meal is a popular organic fertilizer with a variety of advantages for plants and gardens. It’s got a good amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, making it an ideal fertilizer for a range of plants, but it’s not too powerful that it’ll harm them.
It contains significant quantities of calcium and magnesium, as well as other minerals. Alfalfa meal may be used as a top dressing to improve soil drainage and help to aerate compacted soils.
In addition, alfalfa meal can help to balance the pH level in your soil, making it more friendly for plants. As a result, this multipurpose fertilizer may be an excellent method to boost the health of your garden.
Powdered Milk is another great fertilizer option because it has a lot of calcium, like egg shells and alfalfa. You can simply mix the powder into your garden soil before planting new plants or grass seeds, and it is will provide the soil and plants with a ready supply of calcium.
Adding burned wood ashes to your soil is an excellent strategy to add potassium and calcium carbonate. Wait for them to cool down in your fireplace, and then they can simply be sprinkled on your soil, or mixed in with some water.
You can also apply a little ash to your turf grass before watering if you have a few regions that are dying out, as it has the ability to revitalize dead grass. It will help to balance out the pH of your yard if the soil is too acidic.
However, you should be sure the ashes you’re going to use don’t contain charcoal or lighter fluid, as these substances can harm your plants.
Epsom salt is a combination of magnesium and sulfur, both of which are important for plants. that might benefit from using epsom salt as a fertilizer. If you have rose plant food, vegetable fertilizer, or houseplant food, you can substituted these with epsom salt fertilizer instead, and use it on houseplants, roses, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes, among others.
To feed it to your plants, simply combine 1 tablespoon Epsom salts with a gallon of water in a sprayer or watering can and apply it directly to the plant leaves. Do this at least once a month.
You can also combine it with baking powder and ammonia. Mix 1.5 tablespoons of epsom salt, 1.5 teaspoons of baking soda, and about half a teaspoon of ammonia in a gallon water jug, mix well, and pour it around your plants. Ammonia helps plants grow a healthy root system, while baking soda aids in the plant growth and protects against fungal disease by stimulating the release of nitrates from the leaves into the soil.
Gardeners have used seaweed as a fertilizer for their crops for centuries. Seaweed contains a variety of nutrients that can help to improve plant growth, and it also helps to aerate the soil and reduce compaction. Seaweed is also rich in mannitol, a compound that helps your plants absorb nutrients and retain water.
Best of all, it’s easy to make your own seaweed fertilizer at home. Simply collect some seaweed from the ocean, allow it to dry in the sun, and then grind it into a powder.
You can then sprinkle this powder onto the soil and mix it in or steep it in water to make a seaweed tea, which you then pour over your plants.
So, whether you’re looking to boost your garden’s performance or reduce your impact on the environment, seaweed fertilizer is a great option.
If you have an aquarium or fishbowl that you clean every few weeks, save the water to fertilize your garden. Because of fish waste, aquarium water will become hazy, stinky, and filthy with time, but that same waste that makes aquarium water so beneficial to your plants is also what gives it natural fertilizer and nutrients. Aquarium water also contains a significant amount of nitrogen, one of the main nutrients required for healthy plants.
Because it is high in macronutrients, like carbon, iron, sulfur, potassium, calcium, manganese, potash, copper, magnesium and a few other minerals, Blackstrap Molasses can greatly improve the health of your plants and your garden soil. Molasses also nourishes helpful microorganisms that aid in the health of the soil and plant as a whole.
Blackstrap molasses works best when combined with Alfalfa Meal and/or Epsom Salts. Mix one cup of each (Alfalfa Meal and Epsom Salts) in approximately four gallons of water, then add 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses to the combination. It is also really effective when combined with compost tea, which is described above.
Tea is great for human health, and it is also an effective fertilizer for your garden plants. Tea leaves are high in antioxidants and tannic acid, which aids in the growth of your plants’ nutrient-rich soil. They also aid in the development of the soil’s texture by adding organic material to it.
Simply place one tea bag in 2 gallons of water and use that to water your plants once a month.
Corn Gluten Meal
Corn Gluten Meal is a byproduct of corn wet-milling that has a concentration of 10% nitrogen. The application procedure is straightforward; you simply spread a thin layer of corn gluten meal over the soil then mix it in with a rake or your hands.
Corn Gluten Meal is also used as a common household herbicide and weed killer. However, corn gluten meal works only as a herbicide before seeds germination, so it won’t harm vegetation that have already sprouted. All you have to do is wait about two weeks after your plant seeds germinate, and use it in moderation, and it will be an effective fertilizer.
Additional Organic Fertilizers
These are some naturally-occurring organic fertilizers that you can use in your backyard, but they are less common and are not often found around the house. Contact a local farm or professional gardener for more insight as to where you can find or purchase these ingredients.
Guano is the droppings of bats or seabirds. It’s fast acting, and a good source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as other minerals including calcium, iron, and manganese.
Blood meal is a by-product of livestock waster that is made from dried blood that has been pulverized. It’s high in nitrogen, but it’s also low in other macronutrients.
Bone meal is produced from cow bones that have been crushed to a fine powder and is high in phosphorus and nitrogen.
Shell meal, which is made from crushed up by-products of seafood, is a good source of nitrogen, potassium, and calcium. It also contains a component known as chitin, which aids in the prevention of parasitic worms in your soil.
Rock Phosphate is basically just rocks that have been pulverized, and it is a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and calcium. It is typically not soluble in water, so it must be ground very finely before you can use it, but it is a slow-release fertilizer that lasts a long time in your yard.
Fish Emulsion is made from byproducts of fish that have decomposed and then been blended into liquid form. It’s excellent for spraying on plant leaves because it is high in nitrogen and fast-acting. However, it also has a pungent odor, so avoid using it in locations where there isn’t enough ventilation.
There you have it – a comprehensive guide to making your own fertilizer. We’ve covered everything from what fertilizer is and how it works, to the different nutrients essential for plant growth, as well as a variety of homemade recipes using readily available ingredients.
So, whether you’re a beginner with a burgeoning green thumb or a gardener with decades of experience, there are plenty of homemade fertilizer recipes to try. Now that you know all there is to know about fertilizers, get started mixing up your own custom blends and see the amazing results for yourself! With a little bit of experimentation, you can find the perfect recipe for your plants and soil type.
And who knows? You may even end up creating your own unique organic fertilizer recipe that outperforms all the rest! Have you tried any of these recipes for homemade fertilizer? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.