Making fertilizer at home is a great option for home gardeners who want to find ways to repurpose their waste and reduce their consumption habits. Making your own fertilizer is the more environmentally friendly choice as it could save you a trip to the store and you avoid the bags and plastic containers used in commercial products.
Plus, if you make your own fertilizer, you can be sure of what’s in it, which is particularly important for growing edible crops. Here are some very easy ways to make your own fertilizer this summer.
Manure is the most common base for fertilizer because it’s high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If you happen to have a farm or a pet cow or horse, make sure to make use of the usable manure they generate by recycling it into fertilizer.
The process is straightforward. Begin by composing the manure together with any straw and hay bedding. Once the manure pile has grown to a substantial size, check regularly to make sure the contents of the pile stay moist. If you notice it begins to dry out, simply spray it down with the hose.
The pile must stay moist for it to get hot—at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it reaches that steamy temperature, move the pile to another area where it can cool down. The compost will sit for two to six months while breaking down. If you can establish two piles, then you’ll be able to continuously produce fertilizers. Once the fertilizer is ready, you can apply it to your garden in thin layers (about half an inch deep).
To avoid runoff and water pollution, ensure you keep your piles away from water sources and cover them up during heavy rains.
If you don’t have access to any manure, you can still create a useful fertilizer from regular composting. Compost made up of grass clippings, food waste, and paper products are perfect for mixing into your planting soil.
You can even use an old shirt and a bucket of water to make that compost into liquid fertilizer. To do this, wrap the old shirt or fabric around a ball of compost. Secure the ball of compost and then place it into a bucket of water. Let the mixture steep for three or four days before removing the fabric ball. The water is now a sort of compost tea that can be used to spray leaves or water plants.
Plants love the nitrogen, magnesium, and potassium found in coffee. You can lightly sprinkle coffee grounds around your plants to give the soil a boost. If you use a coffee filter, then the filter filled with coffee grounds can be tied at the top and then left in a gallon of water to steep. You can then use the coffee water on your plants.
For households with wood stoves and/or fireplaces, the cooled ashes are a great source of potassium and calcium carbonate that can be added to your garden soil before planting. Layer it a few inches deep and then rake it into the soil. This is especially good for balancing pH levels in acidic soil.
To make an Epsom salt fertilizer, add one tablespoon of it to a gallon of water and shake until the salt has completely dissolved. Apply the mixture once every month during the growing season.
It’s common knowledge that eggshells are good for plants, but if you just chuck the eggshells out into the garden, they take quite a long time to break down. To make sure your plants benefit from the calcium and phosphorus in eggshells, first, wash out any remnants of an egg. Then, put the shells in the microwave for a minute to dehydrate the shells. Lastly, put the shells in a food processor. This will turn them into a power that can be used around your plants.
Banana peel fertilizer is prepared in much the same way as eggshell fertilizer. First, dehydrate the peel in the microwave until they snap when bent. Then, a few pulses in the food processor or blender should turn them into a powder that can be sprinkled around your plants.