8 Best Homemade Natural 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 garden fertilizers that you can use right 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

Grass clippings
Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen.

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

Weeds are high in nitrogen and make excellent fertilizer if you make weed tea.
Weed tea makes great fertilizer.

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 nutrient-rich weed tea on your gardens.

3. Kitchen Scraps

Compost your kitchen and garden waste for your garden.
Compost

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

Cows manure is high in nutrients but you'll need to use it carefully in your garden so you don't burn your plants.

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 garden 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

Egg shells are 93% calcium carbonate and help lower the acidity of the soil in your garden.
Egg shells help lower the acidity of your soil.

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

Roses love the potassium in 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 homemade fertilizers will make your gardens thrive!

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Amber Kanuckel

Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.

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Teressa

Many of these are simply not true (see coffee grounds, eggshells) in the strict sense. They are long disproved gardening myths. Disappointed to see them here.

Nancy

What’s best to use on pumpkins?

Johannes Mosehla

Composting for vegetable garden

Dean B.

I have a Compost Tumbler and it works very well. Also, do not use Walnut tree leaves. They have a compound called “juglone” or something. It is poisonous to other plants. Bad for the garden.

Sandi Duncan

Hi Dean,

Thanks for the tip. Black walnuts themselves shouldn’t be added to the compost either. Happy composting.

Noavy

• Just Coffee info •
If you go to Starbucks and ask for the rest of the Coffee they used from their Machines, the give it away for free. I did that Last year, collect it every Wednesday for a month and share it with my Neighbors.
We made very happy those plants which needed extra Nitrogen.
Happy organic Planting everyone 🌱

Roxana

I have a small plastic composter. But, am thinking about , not filling anymore. I can’t keep rodents out& afraid I am attracting them to my yard. I live in a suburb with average yard. Any ideas on how to keep rats out?

Shannon

Cats are great for rodents

John

First of all I’m not sure of your experience so if I seem patronising then I apologise.
First no meat, fish or poultry products, cooked or raw, these will definitely attract rats. Also no cooked vegetables or anything off the plate as even the slightest amount of meat juice etc absorbed by them will also attract rats.
I have had my plastic compost bins for 25 years and have never had furry guests, this is possibly because I keep the contents slightly on the moist side, dry compost not only takes longer to process but is just like the warm fluffy bedding in their normal nesting paces. You’ll soon know if it’s too wet, the smell will be almost unbearable due to dead suffocated bacteria.
I hope this has been some help.

Lori

Good tips! I’ve been working on my compost bin for 6 months. It’s dry, I think I need to add water perhaps. Your other tips are bang on. No meat, no critters…except the ones you want.

Kathy

Hi. I;m Kathy. only cats and dogs like the scent of onions- onions repel rodents and other animals, so maybe throw onion pieces in your compost bin. Meat and fish in compost bins attract rodents but composting is so important to restoring all of the things that we have removed from our soils. I hope you don’t give up. . I, too, have a plastic bin and so I put my meat and fish and bones into the citywide green collecting bin and just put other things in my plastic bin so I do not have animal issues..

Green girl

Worms avoid onions garlic and leeks too so you wouldnt want to put these in a compost bin, worms do all the work 🙂

Sean

I am a small time gardener in a raised bed in my backyard. I been tossing egg shells, some coffee grounds and about to amend the soil with manure. Last year I had healthy plants and the soil seemed to have a abundance of earth worms but I couldn’t get peas to grow and Brussel sprouts almost made it to harvest. I am thinking about skipping the broccoli and focusing more on Brussel sprouts. I had bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce in my small garden. All of which I plan to grow again as my daughter loves to see everything grow. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Jean K

Be aware that horse and cow manure can have herbicide residue in it and peas, beans will not grow. Search this for more information. I was very careful and this still poisoned my garden. University of MN confirmed it.

C.C.

During the non-growing season, my ducks and chickens have full access to the garden area. A couple months before planting, the fence between my poultry pen and garden is put back up for tillering. They are usually let back in once more to add some fresher fertilizer before doing a second tillering and planting. This year we’re planning on letting our 3 guineas debug plants. We never use any chemicals, just natural ways but again our poultry uses the area too. They get double the pen, we get an abundance of vegetables and they get what falls on the ground (plus a little extra).

KOFI SOMUAH

I’m a small scale farmer and want to use only organic methods for farming and will be happy if you can teach me well how to use these simple methods in details to expand my scope of farming
Thanks and looking forward to hear from you

shadrack

please help i want to know how to make a compost and it takes how long

Clement

I want to start growing sunflower.i want know the. Spacing, weeding, type of fertilizer and the type of chemicals to spray.

Randy Watts

You don’t have to weed sunflowers. They put out a natural weed suppressant. There are lots of different kinds and sizes. Check on the package for spacing recommendations.

Mark

My wife and I make our own yogurt and cheese and have discovered mixing some whey with rabbit manure makes a great fertilizer for tomatoes. They love the acid that the whey adds to the soil

pete

If I am planting something and don’t have compost, but have some old food scraps (peelings, etc) can I just throw it into the hole when I plant?

Nicholette

yes

Randy Watts

yep. You can also add some meat scraps to the hole. Just don’t add a bunch of fats or grease.

Noavy

Do NOT add meat, it will attract Rats or others animals

Dharmaraj NAGARAJAN

How to make natural fertilizer

Dada Harsh

Moon and nakshtra agriculture

Maureen

Explain please

Lorraine O'LEARY

Is a row cover going to protect plantings through a last frost? This year I am able to plant about a month earlier according to the Almanac and I plan on watching the weather closely. Should I double cover with row cover or cover with row cover and plastic?

Susan Higgins

Hi Lorraine, you didn’t mention where you live but we’re pretty sure everyone is out of the woods right now with frost. but at this point, if you hear of a frost coming in your local forecast, a double cover with row cover should suffice.

Paul Valadez

Thanks.

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.

Teresa mcnutt

I am wanting to make my own fertilizer out of egg shells beet greens alfalfa banana peels and comfrey can you tell me the portions to add

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.

Nicholette

thanks for the tips!

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.

Glen Inglesbirth

Hi Christopher, I am from the Caribbean and I do lots of organic vegetable gardening. From my experience, I get the best produce not only from my homemade compost, (decomposed grass cuttings and leaves) but mainly from the timing of this Farmers’ Almanac. From my experience, even though I have the best in compost, I will not get the best produce unless I use the given timing for planting.

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.

Athos

You actually must combine both to keep the pH soil level stable.
Coffee will make the soil more acid.
Egg shells will make it more alkaline.

Glen Inglesbirth

True Athos, but when you say “balance” I know that you mean approriate. So if your soil is already neutral or appropriate for your crop, which differs from crop to crop, then the combination may maintain that position on the pH scale, but then why use something to maintain that value when we can get the same result if we just leave it alone? Just the same, we MUST remember that different crops require different pH values to do their best. Some crops love Acidic soils whereas others prefer Alkaline soils. This is one of the reasons it is recommended that we alternate crops on the same spot for a particular crop will tend to utilize the nutrients that it prefers, causing a change in the pH, hence leaving the soil void of some nutrients. So if we replant with the same crop on the same location, that crop will be lacking the missing nutrients necessary for proper growth and yield, hence we will then have to add, using fertilizers, to the soil for that crop to produce well.

Glen Inglesbirth

Hey Jim, I don’t know what you were replying to in this comment but I might be able to help, hopefully. Egg shells add calcium or it increases the alkaline of your soil where as the coffee grounds tend to increase the acidity of the soil. Actually those are some natural additives used to alter ones pH of their soil form better results. For instance, if one soil is too acid or its pH is too low, they can use some egg shell to bring the soil closer to about 6 where their plants might like better than a 4 and the inverse of that, if the soil is too alkaline, lets say 7 on the scale, one can use the coffee grounds to bring the pH closer to what is preferred by the plants.

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.

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