Friday, May 26, 2017

8 Organic liquid fertilizers you can make!

Organic gardeners are always looking for ways to improve their soil naturally. Of course you can buy organic fertilizers in a garden center but wouldn't it be more natural to just make them? I have tried many ways to make organic fertilizer for my garden over the years and have found them to be just as good as commercially available fertilizers. Plus I just like knowing what is going into my plants.

So what other kinds of organic soil amendments are there? We all know that coffee grounds give plants a nitrogen boost and compost tea is a great fertilizer. Most people also know about it's stronger cousin, poop tea fertilizer. (I'll still include those recipes just in case you're new to the MYO fertilizer arena) There are so many more fertilizers that you can make though! I've been looking way past common into the arena of kitchen scraps and garbage! I really like to find a new use for things you were going to throw away anyway, and make them into valuable fertilizers for your organic garden.

how to make | organic fertilizer


We've talked about dry organic soil amendments in the post Feed Your Garden. Today I want to talk about homemade liquid fertilizers. Most of these are made by allowing the chosen material to steep in water for several days. After a few days most of the soluble nutrients will have seeped into the water solution. Unless you actually want to ferment the material, this is where you want to stop steeping and use the fertilizer on your plants. I personally don't ferment fertilizer but some people have great success with it.

Banana peel fertilizer:
Banana peels are loaded with potassium. Plants that are grown for their fruits or flowers benefit from potassium rich fertilizers. However foliage plants like lettuce or spinach don't favor it too much. Feed potassium rich fertilizer to your fruits, tomatoes and squash plants! To unlock the potassium in banana peels, simply place a banana peel in a mason jar full of water and cap it. Let it sit for 3 days and then use it to water your plants.

Eggshell fertilizer:
Eggshells are full of calcium plus a little potassium. Crush clean eggshells and put in a mason jar full of water. Allowed to set for a week or so then use on your plants. Houseplants and tomatoes love this stuff! In fact, almost all plants need calcium. It may even help prevent blossom end rot. After you've used all your eggshell fertilizer, toss the shells in the compost and use new ones for the next batch. 

Vegetable cooking water:
Once your done cooking your veggies for dinner, drain the water into a bowl and allow to cool. This water contains all the vitamins the vegetables lost during the cooking process. I dilute this about half and half with water and give a splash to all my houseplants first, then head to the garden. This does not store well at all! Make sure you use it up the first day or it will start to smell like rotted garbage. Anything left can be dumped in the compost pile.

Epsom salts:
Epsom salts are high in magnesium and sulfur. Mix one tablespoon of Epsom salts with a gallon of water. I use this as a foliar spray on my tomatoes, peppers and roses about twice a month. I also use it on onions since I read somewhere that they make them especially strong tasting and I love me some brutally strong onions!

Now for the stinky ones...
Weed tea:
If your weeds have not gone to seed yet you can use them to make fertilizer. You can also add grass clippings. Weeds and grass are high in nitrogen and the water helps break them down and make those nutrients available. Put weeds and grass clippings in a 5 gallon bucket. Add water until it's a few inches above the weeds, cover and allowed to soak for 3 days. Drain liquid out and mix with water in a 1 to 10 ratio. Use this mixture to water plants and compost the remaining soggy weeds.

Fish tank or pond water:
Sure you're not actually making this one, but dirty fish tank water and pond water has lots of nitrogen and nutrients in it that is good for your garden. Even old bird bath water can be used. Depending how dirty the water is, I dilute it at least 1 to 1. I add more water if the pond or tank water is particularly funky. Skip it if it's foamy or sludge like. (obviously you wouldn't use water from a saltwater tank)

Compost tea
This is made exactly the same as weed tea, except you put compost in the bottom of the bucket and cover with water and a lid. I don't push the lid on tight. I just sort of set it on top to prevent bugs from getting in there. After a day or so simply pour off the liquid and dilute to a 1 to 10 ratio and water your plants with it.

Poop tea:
By far my least favorite liquid fertilizer to make is poop tea. I spend enough time cleaning up chicken poop, I do not need to soak it and water my plants with it. 😄 I compost my chicken coop litter and the compost gets used in the garden, so it gets there eventually. I'm just not into making poop tea. (yes, I can be a bit childish sometimes!) If however you want to give it a try, it's the same as weed tea or compost tea except you use rabbit or chicken poop instead of compost. This is very high in nitrogen so dilute at least a 1 to 20 ratio. 

Before you apply any type of liquid fertilizer you'll want to make sure that the plants are adequately watered. If they have any level of drought stress they could possibly take up too many salts from the fertilizer. If your plants are desperately in need of watering, water then first then come back tomorrow with the fertilizer.

Happy growing!
~L
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4 comments:

  1. Good ideas... (most of them anyway, I wouldn't do the last one either!!!! :) ) I use banana peels and eggshells in the garden at the beginning of the season and need to do this for the rest of it. Thank you. :)

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  2. I love the idea of banana fertiliser, I'm definitely going to try that on my tomatoes this year! I have a bucket of very smelly weed tea going in my garden, it's been fermenting for 3 weeks or so and it smells baaaaaad (but will be so good for the garden!)

    (ps. visiting from #wastelesswednesday blog hop :) x

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  3. Wow, what a list. We just throw most scraps in the compost pile. We haven't tried to make our own liquid fertilizer yet. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday blog hop!

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  4. This is fantastic! My compost isn't ready but I need something to put on my veggies. I will definitely be using some of these ideas. Thanks very much for sharing with #wastelesswednesday

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