Fertilizers are most commonly used to provide plants with three main nutrients that are essential to thrive. These nutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Often you find these numbers on fertilizer in number form. An example would be 28-4-8 (this number would most likely be a plant boost for spring time on your lawn).
A great way of remembering these nutrients and what they do for your plants, is the saying, “up, down, and all around”. Nitrogen, the first number, is vital for plant growth above the ground as well as providing the green, leafy growth of the foliage. Phosphorus, the middle number, targets the growing beneath the ground and helps establish a healthy root system. Potassium, the last number, is important for the plant’s overall health. A lot of this comes from this nutrient’s ability to build strong cells within the tissue of the plant, therefore allowing it to withstand earthly elements.
Although these are the main three nutrients we see in fertilizers, plants also need other nutrients to thrive. These are called Micronutrients. Plant’s main micronutrients that are often needed are Calcium, Magnesium, and Sulfur. Along with these, the plant’s pH levels (acidity of the soil) are extremely important.
Keep reading to find easy ways you can make your own organic garden fertilizers!
1. Egg Shells
The shells of eggs contain a lot of calcium which helps cell growth in all plants. You would be shocked at how many people actually go out and buy egg shells, when you can have them for virtually nothing! Either use them from your natural egg compost, or if you have laying hens, you can use any cracked or ‘unsellable’ eggs for this as well.
There are two ways to apply these shells; by just crushing them up, or making a spray.
For crushed shells, put about 15 egg shells in a sealable plastic bag and crush them with a wooden spoon (or whatever you got!). Then, bury them beneath the surface of the soil.
For the spray, you will need 20 egg shells and 1 gallon of water. Bring the egg shells to a boil in water for 3 minutes. Keep them in that water and let them sit overnight. The following day, either strain and put in a spray bottle, or you can directly add to a watering can and apply to the soil.
2. Banana Peels
Many of us know that bananas are high in Potassium, but did you know that they also have high levels in Calcium and Phosphorus?
This one is easy to do y’all, just bury a banana peel in the soil by the base of the plant and let it decompose. If you want to get fancy, you can make a spray instead. For the spray, soak a peel in water for about 2-3 days. After soaking, use that water in a spray bottle to spray your plants!
3. Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are such a great natural fertilizer, and most of us have a whole lot to throw away each morning (am I right?!).
If you have low acidity in your soil, these coffee grounds will help bump up the acidity, along with adding Nitrogen to your soil.
To add to the soil, use about 1/3 of your coffee grounds and work them into the soil at the base of your plant.
Another benefit of using coffee grounds is that they blend in really well to the soil – since it already looks like dirt! It is a win-win situation if you are applying this fertilizer on a front garden or in a very visible spot.
4. Grass Clippings
So we all have those annoying clumps of grass left over after mowing, taking away from a perfectly cut grass ‘look’.
If you want to boost the Nitrogen in your plants, take about a 5 gallon bucket and fill with the grass clippings. Cover those with water and let soak for about 4 days.
To apply to the soil, you will need to dilute your mix. Take 1 cup of the ‘grass mix’ with 10 cups of fresh water. Then apply this to your soil.
5. Epsom Salts
You can usually grab a small bag of epsom salts at a drugstore, or sometimes a larger bag at your local feed store. The importance of adding epsom salts is that it boosts Magnesium and Sulfur in the soil. These salts are great for starting seeds or when you are transplanting.
For the mixture, add 1 tbsp of epsom salt to 1 gallon of water. You can be generous with this mixture as you apply on your plants with a watering can.