Cheap, home-made fertilisers

As you go through the seasons in your garden your soil gets tired, it loses minerals and trace elements that all your plants need. Now you could nip out and keep buying compost and fertilisers to bulk it up… Or maybe you could use a liquid fertiliser… Or you could make your own.

Now I’m not going to include a compost heap in this list. We all know about the incredible boost those heaps give our gardens. This post is about some of the other ones you may well just throw away not knowing what they can do for you!

Banana Peel
All plants need potassium, Roses and a few others really do need top ups and one of the best sources of potassium is bananas. When you dig the hole for a new rose, throw one or two banana peels in first or bury some sliced peels on top of the soil, under mulch, so they can compost naturally over time. You can also use them on your veggie plants, which will help the plants grow better crops.

Coffee Grounds
Acid-loving plants love coffee grounds. You can either make use coffee in its liquid form and give them a drink or simply scatter the grounds on top of the soil and gently tickle the top of the soil just before rain (or water them in yourself), as this will encourage worms.  If you want to use the liquid option, soak 7 cups (about a kilo?) of grounds in a 5 gallon (20 litre) bucket of warm water. Let it sit for 2-3 days and then saturate the soil around your plants. In either case, try not to let the grounds clump in one place – spread them around a bit.

Alternatively, you can simply dump the grounds, and your filters too if you want, into your compost heap. This will help add nitrogen, which is essential for growth and photosynthesis.  If you have a vermicomposter then you REALLY want to be adding a small amount of coffee grounds on a regular basis as worms LOVE coffee grounds!

Egg Shells
Egg shells can be used on any fruiting crops. The calcium will help fend off blossom end rot and will encourage better formed fruit. Before using shells make sure you properly wash them first. This is very important! You can gather the shells over the winter if you want to, just clean them as soon as you collect them, don’t allow them to sit too long without cleaning.
You then have two choices. Either blend them into a powder and work them into the soil near your crops or you can make a tea out of them. Boil up about a gallon (4 litres) of water and dump in 10 clean shells, allow to sit and cool overnight, strain out the egg shells and use the now cool water directly to your plants. The strained shells can be broken up and scattered around your plants.

An aside to this. If you crush them into small pieces rather than a powder and scatter them around your plants it will help deter slugs and snails as they do not like the sharp edges.

Nettle tea.
Of the fertilisers listed in this blog post this is the best for general use… But it’s also the stinkiest!

Fair warning before you attempt this one… Your neighbours and possibly your neighbours in the next town over will NOT like you for a few hours. This stuff reeks! But on the other hand the smell doesn’t last long after you use it and it’s well worth the smell what with the results you can get from using it!

This is a very easy, if time consuming, fertiliser to make. Simply get a bucket and place enough stinging nettles in it to make it ‘full’ (Don’t compact them) and then get some hedge cutters or whatever you have and roughly mince them. You don’t want them shredded… just bruised and cut up. Now place a stone on top to hold them all down. Then fill the bucket 4/5ths full with rain water if you can, but tap water will do, and let it sit with a lid of some description in the sun for about 3 weeks.
You will need to stir the pot once every couple of days. You will notice a froth forming, this is fine. After about 3 weeks it will be ready. You will need to strain the mass from the liquid and dilute it in water to 1:10 before using. The mass can be dumped in your compost heap although you may want to place grass clipping on top of it to reduce the smell somewhat!

That’s it for now.


6 thoughts on “Cheap, home-made fertilisers

  1. For anyone else reading this, you can often get a bag of used coffee grounds free from Starbucks (other coffee shops might also do it). They’re more than happy to give it away usually.

      1. Usually any time of the day. They empty the coffee machines regularly during the day. Some stores keep the grounds bagged up for people to take – others will empty the machines on request.

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