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8 Best Homemade Garden Fertilizers

You don't have to buy expensive fertilizers! Your garden will thrive with these DIY versions made from items around your pantry and backyard!

Organic gardening is as popular as ever, and the methods we use plays a critical role in our health and the health of the planet.

There are many different all-natural fertilizers that you can use in your garden or with potting soil. Some of these fertilizers can be made or collected at home using common items from your pantry or your backyard. Here are 8 of our favorite DIY fertilizers for a variety of needs.

1. Grass Clippings

If you have an organic lawn, make sure to collect your grass clippings to use on your gardens. Half an inch to an inch of grass clippings makes a great weed-blocking mulch, and it is also rich in nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for most plants.

2. Weeds

Just like grass clippings, many of the weeds that you’ll find in your gardens are very high in nitrogen and will make an excellent fertilizer. The problem is, once you’ve pulled the weeds, you certainly won’t want to put them back in the garden because any seeds will sprout and make new weeds. The solution? Make weed tea. To do this, fill a five-gallon bucket no more than 1/4 full with weeds that you’ve pulled. Then fill the bucket the rest of the way with water, and let the weeds soak for a week or two. Once the water turns nice and brown (like tea), pour this weed tea on your gardens.

3. Kitchen Scraps

Put your kitchen and garden waste to work by making your own compost. Compost releases nutrients slowly, which means a well-composted garden can go a year or two without requiring reapplication of fertilizer. Compost also helps the soil retain moisture, which is essential for vegetable gardens to thrive during hot, dry summers.

4. Manure

cow trivia

Manure comes from a variety of sources — cows, horses, chickens, and even bats. Each type of manure is high in nitrogen and other nutrients, but you’ll need to use it carefully. Raw manure is highly acidic and may actually have more nutrients than your plants need, so too much can burn your plants. It’s best to use composted manure. Since it is less nutrient-dense and acidic, you can use more of it to improve your soil’s water retention without risking your plants. You won’t have to wait long—manure quickly turns to a perfect odor-free soil amendment.

5. Tree Leaves

Rather than bagging up the fall leaves and putting them out on your curb, collect them for your gardens instead. Leaves are rich with trace minerals, they attract earthworms, they retain moisture, and they’ll help make heavy soils lighter. You can use leaves in two ways: Either till them into your soil (or mix crushed leaves into potting soil), or use them as a mulch to both fertilize your plants and keep weeds down.

6. Coffee Grounds

coffee grounds

Coffee grounds come with a lot of uses, but one of their best is as a fertilizer. Lots of plants, such as blueberries, rhododendron, roses, and tomatoes, thrive best in acidic soil. Recycle your coffee grounds to help acidify your soil. There are a couple of ways to do this— you can either top dress by sprinkling the used grounds over the surface of the soil, or you can make “coffee” to pour on your gardens. Soak up to six cups of used coffee grounds for up to a week to make garden coffee, then use it to water your acid-loving plants.

7. Eggshells

If you’ve ever used lime on your garden, then you know it comes with lots of benefits — chiefly, it helps lower the acidity of your soil for plants that don’t like acid, and it provides plants with lots of calcium, which is an essential nutrient. Lime itself is an all-natural fertilizer that you can buy at the garden center, but if you’d rather save some money, there is a cheaper way to get the same benefits. Simply wash out the eggshells from your kitchen, save them, and crush them to use in your garden. It turns out that eggshells are 93% calcium carbonate, which is the scientific name for lime. See what else you can do with eggshells here!

8. Banana Peels

We eat bananas for their potassium, and roses love potassium too. Simply bury peels in a hole alongside the rose bush so they can compost naturally. As the rose grows, bury the peels into the soil’s top layer. Both of these approaches will provide much-needed potassium for the plant’s proper growth. Read about trench composting here.

No matter what you’re growing, one or more of these fertilizers will make your gardens thrive!

Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental and green living topics. Her article on woolly worm caterpillar folklore appears in the 2020 Farmers' Almanac.

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Surendra Kumar singh

Yes

Johnny M

I’d like to know the best natural manure or fertilizer for lawn grass (Mexican grass). I would like to avoid the suggested chemical DAP (diammonium phosphate) and urea. Are there natural (possible that you can make at home) equivalents of DAP and urea? TIA.

Susan Higgins

Hi Johnny, we found this information that may be helpful. Take a look here.

Haytham

I want where to make NPK fertilizer in a natural and inexpensive way, and therefore I work to sell it to farmers because its cost to farmers is small compared to expensive imported chemical fertilizers. Also, our country is poor and from developing countries, and for this reason I decided to do something simple to support my country that is rife with tragedy and wars. So what are the main steps and tools for this project? You have all the respect for me. Agricultural engineer / Haitham Al-Sabbari Country / Yemen

Susan Higgins

Hi Haytham, this article recommends garden fertilizers for home use. We appreciate you following the Farmers’ Almanac and wish you luck.

Michael Western Washington

You note that coffee grounds are good for roses and tomatoes. Peppers are related to tomatoes, so I’ve read, so I presume coffee grounds would be good for them also. Yes?
Thank you.

Bruce Maine

Where I ground feed birds I’ve been sweeping up organic remnants (like peanut shells, sunflower seed hulls and other grains), to spread in the garden. Is this appropriate? Thanks!

Lukas J Townsend

Just want to thank everyone for all there input I live in north west Florida and haven’t any questions at this time b-cause I’m reading & paying attention to what’s posted thank you all so much

Susan Higgins

Thank you, Lukas! Good luck to you.

Ayan Islam

Wait, I live in northwest Florida too! And I’m just an 8 year old

Alexis

I am learning so many things you can use in your garden instead of throwing away. Rice water, bean water, potato water, can all be used to water your plants instead of going down the drain. Soaking banan peels in water for up to three days is an amazing fertilizer to water your plants.

Kat

I actually have a question. I’d like to save money on fertilizer so I decided to save all my kitchen scraps, like coffee grounds, tea bags, banana peels, the parts of fruits and veggies that we don’t eat (like orange peels, the ends of celery, etc.). The problem is I don’t own my own home and I don’t have enough space for a compost pit. Can I throw all that stuff into a blender then freeze it until I need to use it?

Susan Higgins

Hi Kat, you don’t need to blend it, you can just throw the scraps in a bag and yes, when you’re ready to use it, you can take them out of the freezer. There are bins designed for indoor composting. But stay tuned = we’ll be posting a story on fertilizer teas you can make from those banana peels.

Lil

I started using banana peels (soaked in water for a few days ) last year.. My flower plants were growing wonderfully .My tomatoes and roses grew very well. Will use this natural fertilizer again .

Sandi Duncan

Thanks for sharing! Glad it worked for you. Happy planting.

Lee

Thank you so much for this information, I’m definitely going to try it because I’ve recently started planting tomatoes and cabbage so I want to give my garden soil a boost.

Susan Higgins

Lee, thank you, and good luck!

Diana Hickman

Someone needs to answer Kat’s question.

Jenny Benson

Thank you for your insights! I would warn people against using coffee grounds since even small amounts of caffeine (which ground do still contain) are poisonous to plants. I had blueberry plants turn yellow and loose their leaves because I did this.

Alexis

Coffee grounds apparently can make soil aciditic, especially if you use too much. Is it possible blueberries don’t like acidic soil and you may have used too much? Coffee grounds can provide good nitrogen when used properly and are wonderful for cirtus trees and tomatoes.

Sam

Hi, I’ve read that the best ways to avoid creating too much acidity is making ‘coffee ground tea’ which is really diluting it in heaaaps of water for several weeks. I added some egg shells to mine that’s one week in just to experiment

zara

helo i am a 10 years old girl so i want to plant something so i looking on google to just make fertiliser so it superb easy but i am thinking about to use dry leaves banana peal egg cover shell can i leave the grass I want to ask that how many days it will take to be maked

Beth

So informative! Thanks for sharing

Vanessa

I love the learnings that I’m getting in here.It’s so informative and easy to understand.

Christopher Sullivan

Can you kindly advise me of the best natural fertiliser for a vegetable garden ie potatoes, broccoli,&cabbage
Kind regards Christy.

patricwill11

Hey I made a Tea with , used tea bags and banana pells in a trash can and put 2 cups on my cabbage and they grow like crazy. love it.

Christopher Sullivan

Thankyou I found this piece very informative can you kindly advise me of the best natural fertiliser for a vegetable patch ie potatoes, broccoli, cabbage
Regards Christy

Jim

I’m new at growing things so I have to know. You’re saying that egg shells & coffee grounds have an opposite effect and should not be combined ?

patricwill11

Jim, I use them and love it.

Remedios E. Cabcabin

I enjoy reading your item. Very nice and easy to follow. I hope to do it the soonest possible time.

R Cheadle

It would help if the supplier of fertilizers reported the chemical composition of their products

Persis Hepburn

Is there any use for clothes dryer lint? Bearing in mind that most materials are made of or with polyester

Mary

Lint is very flammable and make great fire starters when camping

Khara

lint and used wax from my scent burners makes great fire starters….i mix them together and put that back in the wax containers and they make perfect little cube starters, cleanly contained, and molded back into cubes, just break 1 off and light it up….they burn well for about 20 min each!

Larry

Thanks for the fertilizer tricks and tips

Jarek gardyn was heltier

Gardyn was heltoer

Melvinreeves

Works very well

Melvinreeves

Use all of that works really well

Melvinreeves

I use all that works very well

Beverlie S. Alstott

I had no idea egg shells could be used so many ways!!

linda O.

I bought a bag of lime to sweeten the garden question is do I side dress or what .

Susan Higgins

Hi Linda, we assume you’ve tested your soil pH and have determined it needs a dose of lime. Vegetables, such as peas, beans, corn, members of the cabbage family, lettuce, spinach and other greens grow well in recently limed soil. So yes, side dress and then water well.

Jill

What does side dress mean?

EMILE JAMES

HOW DO YOU USE THE LIME?

Gopal

Best way to make inexpensive compost well done

Beckie

When is the best time to plant potatoes in Ky?

joh

St Patricks day

MarleneLapera Lapera

have done that for years nice soil after !

Paula Middleton

I am a complete beginner and I have been trying to be an expert Gardner for many years… there are so many tips and tricks that everyone has to share. But this year I decided to take all the knowledge I have read and wing it. I think all the comments work, but I think every garden is different and it really pays off with hard work lots of trial and error. I have been trying to make my boggy heavy clay garden into a show garden. 5 years and so many disappointments. So I decided to let it be wild. I took advantage of my heavy clay soil lawn. Made a wildlife pond and then run a french drain from the top of it down into the storm drain. It’s taken me 7 months of hard labour and I can’t believe I have actually got a lawn to be proud of. The water that sat on top of it now fills into the pond and anything runs through the dry creek placed on top of the drainage. The wildlife is crazy I have frogs, newts, slow worms and a hedgehog who visit. I have a floor compost from top to bottom I dug 2ft laid with paper and all my organic waste. I covered it over and sprinkled wildflower seeds. It is such a pleasure to sit and enjoy. So use all the tips you can find and make them work for you
I am a single mum with two children working and studying in university if I can do it any one can

Susan Higgins

Paula, you bring up a good point. Gardeners can take the information they collect and put as much to use as they can, but it’s really trial and error. We started a garden this year on the lawn at the Almanac and there are things we will do differently next year. It’s about learning what works for you! Thanks for your comment.

David

I have tried so many things over the years, from dish soap, a recipe from a friend that had beer as an ingredient and so many other things. After all of my testing I have found an organic product that I have used for the last 3 years, that has worked the best. The product is https://www.revive.com I use all of the product line and it works really well.

lbp

Note to #4 go to garden supply and purchase a some Agriculture Gypsum and put that on your clay soil plus some course sand. a fairly good soil. Also work in saw dust into your soil and within a couple of years you can have workable garden soil and in a few years a great soil for your garden.

Margaret

Please tell me what to do with hard clots of dirt in my garden?

Corrie

I have heavy clay silt soil and find it has a very small window of opportunity for working/tilling. If it has too much moisture in it, the tiller will work it up into balls of hard material, like gravel, not good for planting into. If too dry it will make lumps & clods. Timing your tilling or working to the right level of moisture is critical if you have heavy soil. When you find it’s making lumps and clods, stop working until it softens a bit, either by drying out some more or with a bit of rain.

Zetella Bonner

To Ernest peques: Never run your earthworms away. They are very beneficial to the garden. They keeps the soil fertile. I also use banana peels and coffee grounds especially for my acidic plants.

Carolyn Wallace

I have a long flower box on the out side of my porch, and I bury all my raw fruit and vegetable scraps in it all winter. I also use dried egg shells, coffee and tea grounds in it. Have done this for several years, and have the most beautiful flowers in it. It is also convenient to put everything in it without having to go into the garden.

Mary Forrester Forrester

Can I use shredded paper in my garden to break up the soil? I unknowingly bought a truck load of (Pure black dirt) which turned out to be river clay. I had no idea it would be that kind of soil! I was a “sucker” buyer! He thought it was funny!! ?? I need something to add to the soil besides chemicals to break up the chunks. I am keeping the kitchen waste for a future compost! Another neighbor said I should add saw-dust or sand to the soil. Who is correct? You can tell I’m just a “second year” gardner. HELP !

Dawn Gilmore

Can you use the coffee grounds on all veggies or just tomatoes?

ernest pegues

To years ago I started a garden in my front yard, the more I dug the more I dug up earth worm, my neighbor said to me get you some leaves they will run them away I use those oak leaves and they did the job for me kept my garden clean all year long, this year no problem. they is the best and I found out they will keep your soil most.

Edith

Earthworms are fantastic for a garden. Specifically their castings (poop). Why would you want to get rid of them? They also keep the ground from getting too compact. Price worm castings on Amazon and you will welcome your worms back.

mike

Try using Epsom salt 1 tablespoon in a gal of water. water your whole garden it gives them nitrogen

radykats the brown

No it doesn’t but it does enhance growth. Might make nitrogen more available but doesn’t contain it

bj

Hello,
How to repel rats/mice?? A natural way, like mothballs or ?? Thanks!

Susan Higgins

Hi BJ: we have some good tips for repelling mice here: Get Rid of These Household Pests!

Larry Davis

I am 74 years old, and remember all my life till their passing my parents and other members used egg shells and coffee grounds on Peppers, Tomatoes, and other areas of the garden. I know they work, but the weed tea is a new one on me though, but I will try it this year.

Calvin Payne

The weed tea is what we use on all out nut trees and peaches, plums and all for about 8 years and the groath is unbelieveable, But you have to use the weeds that are not by a road or any place they can get chemicals or poisons. We either grow our weeds or get them from a place will away from any road where cars and trucks travel. Our 2 year peach trees look like they are at least 6 or 7 years old. Also for killing bugs we use water and dawn dish soap only. Thanks have fun.

Jeanelle Edwards

what about tea bags are they, is there anything I can use them for?

Susan Higgins

Hi Jeanelle Edwards: You may find this story interesting: 10 Household Uses For Tea Bags

MaryBeth McDonald

Great tips. I will be using a few. I do the coffee method now, but I love the idea of the bananas in with the roses. Who knew !!! Thanks for sharing…

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