Homemade Fertilizers – 15 Simple and Inexpensive Options

Grow Your Own Groceries with Homemade Fertilizers

There was a time when people gardened because backyard produce was far better and cheaper than anything from the store. To tell the truth, it still is, or at least it still can be. The trick is knowing that back in the day, people used their own compost and homemade fertilizers.

Yet some are convinced that you have to spend a bundle of money to have a really nice, healthy garden. I think that this misconception grew out of the fact that most people have backyards that are filled with really poor/weak soil.

The reasons for this are complicated—a subject for another day. Suffice it to say that if the soil is weak, your plants will also be weak. And so it follows that weak plants have poor production, leading to more time and money spent on a low quantity of low-quality vegetables.

Healthy Soil Equals Healthy Plants

This means that you need to enrich your soil. Because most people are not making their own compost at home, they need to buy fertilizer. Plant fertilizers purchased from the local garden center often contain chemicals that may harm your plants, and are not environmentally friendly.

In addition, fertilizer can be a bit pricey, and this is most likely why the myth that home gardens are expensive continues. This is not necessarily true. You needn’t spend a bundle of money because, believe it or not, you are full of fertilizer!

Make Your Own Homemade Fertilizers

Making your own organic plant food is easy and fun. It should be noted that most people understand that the best way to get good garden soil is to use compost to amend the soil. Of course, that is true. Compost can be made at home out of leftover food scraps and lawn clippings, and so it is virtually cost-free.

Composting may be all one needs for a successful home vegetable crop. If, however, the soil is still lacking in nutrients or if you are planting a more demanding vegetable garden, augmenting with another type of fertilizer may be advisable. So why spend good money on store bought fertilizer when you can make it yourself with just a little information?

Fertilize with Beer and Milk: A Simple Fertilizer From The Greek Gods

Nourishing Nutrients for Prolific Plants

The key to a good garden is good soil. Of the essential nutrients plants need to thrive, most of them are found in soil. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and to a lesser extent calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are called macronutrients, and these are the nutrients that plants need most.

The remaining micronutrients can be supplied in smaller amounts even by some of the poorest soils out there.

While it may not be the most exciting of gardening topics, nothing is more important than having a basic understanding of fertilizer. Just like you and I need nourishment—so do plants. Understanding just a small bit of information about fertilizer can go a long way toward helping your garden to grow big, strong, healthy plants on a light budget. Before we look at some inexpensive homemade fertilizers, let’s look briefly at the subject in general. All fertilizers fall into one of two basic categories: chemical/synthetic or natural/organic.

Organic Fertilizers Versus Synthetic Fertilizers

Chemical/synthetic fertilizers are manufactured using synthetic substances that usually contain highly concentrated forms of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (these are the N-P-K values listed on the fertilizer packaging).

These fertilizers work quickly because they feed the plants directly. But they do come with a downside—they do not improve the soil itself and they can, over time, even destroy the beneficial organisms needed for healthy soil. When you use large quantities of this inorganic stuff over and over again, its byproducts will actually build up in the soil and in time they can hinder plant growth.

Organic/natural fertilizers often use alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, or fish emulsion to provide nitrogen; bone meal or rock phosphate to provide phosphorus; and kelp meal or granite meal to provide potassium.

The downside here is that they work much more slowly, first breaking down in the soil into forms that the plant roots can more easily absorb, then making their way up the plant roots to your hungry plants.

Organic/natural fertilizers, on the other hand, don’t feed the plants directly but rather add essential nutrients to the soil where they become available to the plants, more slowly, over time.

Homemade fertilizers include fresh bananas

Understanding the Basics about N-P-K

While there are also many important micronutrients in good fertilizer, it is understanding the “big 3,” the N-P-K, that is the key to making your own effective fertilizer at home. The N is for nitrogen, the P for phosphorus, and the K for Potassium. Each has an important role to play in the health of your garden.

Nitrogen is the nutrient plants use most to grow large and lush—tall stems with lots of good leafy growth. If you examine the N-P-K content of commercial products that advertise “miracle growth” you will find there is no real miracle at all—the amazing growth is due to a balanced but high N-P-K ratio with a hefty amount of nitrogen in the mix.

Phosphorus is needed to grow strong healthy root systems, and to promote vigorous flowering. Commercial “blooming” mixes are usually high in phosphorus.

Potassium helps with plant growth, protein production, plant hardiness, disease resistance, insect resistance and efficient water use. Plants without enough potassium grow slowly and can have yellow leaves.

Read more: How to Measure Your Favorite Organic Fertilizers

Less is More

Always remember the one basic rule that applies to the use of all fertilizers—”less is more.”  If you use too much fertilizer or too strong a concentration, you could do much more harm than good. Plant roots can be harmed and you will soon see the tell-tale symptoms of fertilizer burn—brown, curled leaf edges and leaves that wither and fall from the stem. Always err on the side of caution—”less is more!”

Now, with a simple understanding of the information above, you are ready to get out and make your own fertilizer. For my purposes I needed a good, effective, general use fertilizer. Here are a few of the solutions that have brought me success:

Easy Household Fertilizers

There are quite a few common items found in your kitchen, and elsewhere around the house, that can be used as plant fertilizer.

Aquarium Water

Water your plants with the aquarium water taken right out of the tank when cleaning it. Fresh water only please, do not use water from a salt water tank. The fish waste makes a great plant fertilizer.


Bananas are not only tasty and healthy for humans, but they also benefit many different plants. When planting roses, bury a banana (or just the peel) in the hole alongside the rose. As the rose grows, bury bananas or banana peels into the top layer of the soil. Both of these approaches will provide the much needed potassium that plants need for proper growth.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of many different nutrients that plants use. This includes carbon, iron, sulfur, potash, calcium, manganese, potassium, copper, and magnesium. What makes this an excellent type of fertilizer is that it feeds beneficial bacteria, which keep the soil and plants healthy. To use blackstrap molasses as a fertilizer, mix it with another all-purpose fertilizer. A good combination to use is one cup each of epsom salts and alfalfa meal. Dissolve this combination in four gallons of water and top it off with one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses. Or simply mix blackstrap molasses in with compost tea. Do this only after the compost tea has steeped.

Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds contain about two percent nitrogen, about a third of a percent of phosphoric acid, and varying amounts of potash (generally less than one percent). Coffee grounds are particularly useful on those plants that like things a bit more acidic such as blueberries, evergreens, azaleas, roses, camellias, avocados, and many fruit trees. I recommend that you allow the coffee grounds to dry and then scatter them lightly, as a mulch, around your plants. Avoid scattering them thickly when they are wet, because clumps of coffee grounds have a tendency to get moldy.

Cooking Water

Many different nutrients are released into the water that food is cooked in. Water that is used to boil potatoes, vegetables, eggs, and even pasta can be used as a fertilizer. Just remember to let the water cool before applying it to your soil.

Corn Gluten Meal

Corn gluten meal is a byproduct of the wet-milling process for corn. It is used not only as an organic pre-emergent herbicide, but also as a fertilizer that is 10 percent nitrogen. To use as a fertilizer, simply spread a thin layer of corn gluten meal and scratch it into the top inch of soil. Plant veggie starts inside the treated area for optimum nitrogen benefit, and do not worry about accidentally harming your plants. Corn gluten meal only works as an herbicide before seeds germinate, not after, so it won’t hurt plants that have already sprouted.

Egg Shells

Egg shells contain about 1% nitrogen, about a half-percent phosphoric acid, and other trace elements that make them a practical fertilizer. Calcium is an essential plant nutrient which plays a fundamental part in cell manufacture and growth. Most roots must have some calcium at the growing tips to grow effectively. Plant growth removes large quantities of calcium from the soil, and calcium must be replenished, so this is an ideal way to “recycle” your egg shells. Simply crush them, powder them in an old coffee grinder, and sprinkle them around your garden soil.

Epsom Salts

1 tablespoon of epsom salts can be combined with 1 gallon of water and put into a sprayer. Apply once a month, directly to the foliage for a quick dose of magnesium and sulfur.

Wood Ash (From Your Fireplace or Fire Pit)

Ashes can be sprinkled onto your soil to supply potassium and calcium carbonate. Hardwood is best, and no charcoal or lighter fluid, please, as this can harm your plants. Don’t use ash in areas where you are trying to maintain acid-loving plants—the ashes are alkaline and can increase alkalinity in the soil.


Gelatin can be a great nitrogen source. Dissolve one package of gelatin in 1 cup of hot water and then add 3 cups of cold water. Pour directly on the soil around your plants once a month. This is great for houseplants!

Green Tea

A weak solution of green tea can be used to water plants every four weeks. Use one teabag to 2 gallons of water.


Hair is a good source of nitrogen and it does double duty as a deer repellent. A good source for this hair is not only your hairbrush but also the local barbershop or beauty salon. Many of these establishments will save hair for your garden, if you ask them for it. But do not limit yourself to only human hair. Dog hair, horse hair, and cat hair work just as well.

Horse Feed

What makes horse feed irresistible to horses is also what makes it an excellent fertilizer. The magic ingredient is molasses. To use horse feed as a fertilizer is simple and easy. It can be used as a soil amendment just by sprinkling it on top of the soil. Alternatively, it can be dissolved in water alone or combined with another organic fertilizer, and applied as a soil drench.


The old fashioned easy strike matches are a great source of magnesium. To use this as a fertilizer, simply place the whole match in the hole with the plant, or soak the matches in water. The magnesium will dissolve into the water and make application easier.

Powdered Milk

Powdered milk is not only good for human consumption but also for plants. This source of calcium needs to be mixed in to the soil prior to planting. Since the milk is in powder form, it is ready for use by your plants.

Read more: How to Fertilize Your Container Gardens

Four Easy Homemade Fertilizer Recipes

These are some slightly more complex fertilizer recipes that I like to use. My favorites are the Simple Tea and the Quick Fix, but each of these make regular appearances in our garden fertilizing schedule:

Recipe #1—Simple Tea Fertilizer

This simple recipe has been used for 1000s of years. Give it a try in your garden for a quick and inexpensive dose of nutrients for your plants.


• In a five gallon bucket, mix 1/4 cup of epsom salts, 2 cups of urine (yes, good old pee pee), and 2 cups of wood ash (again, no lighter fluid or charcoal, please)
• Fill the rest of the bucket about half way with grass clippings, pruned green leaves, or even green weeds pulled right out of the ground
• Fill the bucket to the top with water and allow the mix to steep for three days
• After steeping, strain the tea or decant into empty milk jugs or old 2 liter bottles
• Before use, dilute by 50% by mixing half water and half tea into your favorite watering can
• Apply this wonderful mix by pouring it directly onto the soil around your plants

If your results are anything like mine you will see a noticeable difference in just a few days.

Note: Only steep for three days. By the third day, most of the soluble nutrients will have seeped out into the water solution. Stopping now prevents fermentation, which you want to avoid. Fermented materials will smell bad, and their pH can change rapidly, so it’s important to stick with a three-day steeping, and then use the concentrate within a day or two.

Recipe #2—Homemade Fish Emulsion Fertilizer

Fish emulsion is a homemade fertilizer made using fish waste—such as fish parts and guts—and water. This organic all-purpose fertilizer has also been around for 1000s of years and it works great, but it takes weeks to make, and the mixture must have time to rot before you can use it. Yes, there is some bad smell here—it is made from rotting fish after all!


• To begin the process, fill a 55-gallon drum about one-third full with a ratio of 2 parts water and 1 part fish waste
• Allow this mixture to steep for 24 hours
• After steeping, add more water to the drum until it is completely full
• Cover loosely and let the drum ferment for several weeks—we usually allow about 3 weeks for fermentation
• To use, apply the fish emulsion fertilizer to the soil around your plants at a rate of 3 gallons of liquid for every 100 square feet of yard or garden

Homemade fish emulsion fertilizers

Recipe #3—Seaweed Fertilizer

Another fertilizer with a 1000 year pedigree. Not only is seaweed an all-purpose organic fertilizer, but it also contains mannitol. Mannitol is a compound that increases a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients in the soil. Either fresh or dried seaweed can be used to create the all-purpose fertilizer. However, if you use fresh seaweed or dry salted seaweed, ensure it is thoroughly washed before using.


• Add 8 cups of chopped seaweed to a five gallon bucket and fill halfway with water (rain water is always best if it’s available)
• Loosely cover the container, and let the seaweed steep for about three weeks
• After steeping, strain the seaweed and transfer the liquid to a container to store it for up to 3 weeks
• To use, mix half water and half seaweed tea into your favorite watering can and apply it to the soil around your plants. Your plants will thank you for it within just a few days.

Recipe #4—The Quick Fix Fertilizer

If you haven’t got time to wait 3 days to make the Simple Tea, you might want to try this idea. Most of the ingredients can be found around your home.


• In an empty 1 gallon milk jug, mix 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon of ammonia (a very strong source of quick nitrogen), 3 teaspoons of instant iced tea (the tannic acid in this helps the plants to more quickly and easily absorb nutrients), 3 teaspoons blackstrap molasses (this helps feed soil bacteria), 3 Tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizer, as it combines with the air and water it decomposes, freeing the oxygen elements and thus providing a supplement of oxygen to the plants and aerating the soil), 1/4 cup crushed bone scraps (this adds phosphorus—any bones will do but I like to use fish bones myself as they also provide potassium), 1 crushed egg shell or 1/2 a dried banana peel for potassium (you can omit if using fish bones, but I would still add the egg shell for the calcium—especially for my tomatoes as it helps prevent blossom end rot)
• Fill the jug the rest of the way with water (again rain water is best). Replace cap and allow the jug to sit in the sun for about 1 hour to warm, then water your plants with this mixture at full strength.

Homemade manure tea fertilizer

Using What Your Animals Give You

There are many other ways to make your own fertilizer, and some are easier to make than others. It doesn’t get much easier than using manure from your animals. For eons, man used “free” fertilizer from manure to fertilize his crops. Manure can be used as is after drying, or in the form of manure tea.

Before manure is used in the garden, it should be aged and dried, and/or composted first. Age fresh manure for at least 6 months. Well-aged manure on its own makes a great fertilizer for garden plants. You can spread aged manure directly on top of your garden soil at a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Another option is to till it, or mix it by hand, into the top layer of soil in the fall or winter, prior to spring planting.

Generally, fall is the best time to use manure in the garden. This allows plenty of time for the manure to break down, eliminating the threat of burning plants in the garden come springtime. As the soil absorbs manure, nutrients are released. This enriches the soil, which in turn helps the plants. One of the most important benefits of using manure in the garden is its ability to condition the soil.

Composting manure is one of the best and safest ways to use this free fertilizer, as it eliminates the possibility of burning your plants and controls potentially harmful bacteria.

Nearly any kind of manure can be used. Generally horse, cow, and chicken manures are the most commonly used for manure fertilizer. Some people also use sheep, rabbit, turkey, and more. It is not recommended that you use manure from your cats, dogs, other household pets – or any other meat-eating animals. These manures are unsuitable for the garden or the compost pile, as they are likely to carry parasites.

Making Manure Tea Fertilizer

I will leave you with one last recipe. I use this tea regularly and it works great—just make sure that your manure is well-aged.

Bonus Recipe: Manure Tea Fertilizer

Manure tea enriches the soil and adds much needed nutrients for healthy plant growth. The nutrients found in manure tea make it an ideal fertilizer for garden plants. The nutrients from manure dissolve easily in water so that they can then be added to a sprayer or simply used in a watering can. The leftover manure can be thrown in the garden or reused in the compost pile.

Manure tea can be used each time you water plants, or periodically. It can also be used to water lawns. However, it is important to dilute the tea prior to use so as to avoid burning the roots or foliage of plants. I fill my watering can 1/2 way with the tea and then fill it to the top with rain water. I use this every 3 weeks or so during the growing season.


• Place a shovel full of well-aged manure in a large burlap sack or pillowcase
• Make certain that the manure has been well aged or “cured” beforehand. Fresh manure is much too strong for plants, and it can contain harmful bacteria.
• Suspend the manure-filled “tea bag” in a 5 gallon bucket, and add water to create a mix of 5 parts water to 1 part manure
• Allow this mixture to steep for up to two weeks
• After steeping, remove the bag, allowing it to hang above the container until the dripping has stopped
• Skipping the tea bag and adding the manure directly to the water usually speeds up the brewing process. Without a bag, the tea is usually ready within only a few days if you stir it thoroughly during this period. Once it has fully brewed, you will have to strain it to separate the solids from the liquid. The remaining manure can then be added to the compost pile.
• To use, dilute the tea by half, as mentioned above, prior to use

Helpful resource: How Much Nutrient is in Your Homemade Fertilizer?

Add to This List of Homemade Fertilizers

This list of homemade fertilizers is by no means exhaustive. If I’ve missed any of your favorites, be sure to let me know in the comments below! Keep in mind that the most important thing you really need to understand about making your own fertilizer is that you control what goes into the fertilizer, so you know exactly what goes into your garden and therefore what goes into your body. Making your fertilizer is also a great way to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”

Lately, before I toss anything into my trash, I stop and ask myself, “How else can I use this?” As often as not, the things I would have otherwise thrown away can help out in my garden. And, best of all, I’ve come to realize that my home, my animals, and even my own body are all full of fertilizer!

TGN Bi-Weekly Newsletter


Joe Urbach is the creator/publisher of www.GardeningAustin.com and the popular Phytonutrient Blog. He has lived and worked in the Central Texas area for over 30 years. Joe is a certified Texas Master Gardener and is currently serving as the Director of Training for the Hays County Chapter of the Texas Master Gardener Association. He teaches and lectures on gardening regularly and can often be found speaking at local nurseries, libraries, garden clubs and extension offices. Joe has become a phytonutrient gardener and wants us all to come along for the journey to a better, healthier, longer and much more active and productive life!

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  • Dor Thetford says:

    Excellent information. Easy to ready. Easy to understand. Max vote!

    1. Phebe says:

      This is one of the best articles yet… It is easier than Steve Solomons complete organic fertilizer which mixes the seed meals used in feed and lime.

  • Alan Olson says:

    Great article, but I did find it lacking one key fertilizer that I use all the time. Worm compost tea – takes care of the kitchen scraps, yard debris, etc… whether you use a worm composter or a compost pile with worms – worm tea is wonderful and can fulfill your plant needs easily.

    1. Hi Alan – We’re working on another article dedicated to aerobic compost tea made with worm castings. Should be up here before too long…

  • Bonnie says:

    For the quick fix, can you substitute used tea bags for the instant iced tea?

    1. Joe Urbach says:

      Yes, you can use tea bags instead of the instant iced tea, I like the instant tea myself because it dissolves quickly and mixes thoroughly.
      If using used tea bags I would brew a pot of water with about 6 used bags and then add the water to the mix rather than putting the bags directly into the mix – just to avoid the chance of mold from the old tea bags growing in the mix.

  • p says:

    Among manures seldom used is Humanure. Jenkins’ book of that title, 3rd edition, is online free, leaving little excuse to dither. Good you mentioned urine, the other wasted household item. Our deprived soils would long since be replenished if old tired inhibitions hadn’t prevented use of “waste.”
    And think how much cleaner your drinking water would be!

  • Theresa King says:

    Hi! This is a great article!! So informative, and some things I really never heard of doing before! I’ll be glad to try them out. I’m also sharing this with our local organic gardening group.
    Just to let you know, on that scale, I accidentally clicked on the star at the opposite end from what I meant, which means I accidentally clicked “awful.” Sorry! I did not see a way to correct that, but I clicked again on “excellent.” 🙂 So, if you see an “awful” – please disregard!!!

  • Diana Smith Hill says:

    Please get the printer friendly button for your blog here, Drives me crazy you don’t have one .. https://www.printfriendly.com/

    1. Hi Diana – We have printfriendly – you should see it at the bottom of each post, in with the other sharing buttons. Thanks – Michael

      1. Shae says:

        There is only Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. No print that I see…

        1. Michael Ford says:

          Hi Shae – Yeah, we lost that option when we upgraded to our new template. We are looking for a way to work it in to the new template – stay tuned…

  • I really enjoyed this very comprehensive article. It answered a lot of my questions, particularly about manure tea. I have a large, front porch container garden that is needing some extra nourishment.

  • Victory says:

    Thank you for this very useful article. Can we use the droppings of my pet cockatiels as manure? They don’t eat meat. If yes then how can I age it?
    Thanks again

  • Teddy Plaisted says:

    Very well done and informative article. Thank you! So many people wanting to use human waste is a concern. Too many potential health hazards. Your article is very good and you did a great job of presenting a lot of information.

  • Marie Harris says:

    A great what is to us left over veggies and fruit sew weed and sea food dehydrate, and Incas epson salt or coffee not all same day

  • Dr. David Malaret says:

    Wow!! outstanding job, Joe!!
    Very useful investigation for my garden!!
    Thank you so much. 🙂

  • Lori says:

    I grew up on a farm and we had HUGE gardens, like 4 different with hundreds of hills of watermelon and cantaloupe. Our soil was sandy which made good melons we sold. Each fall after steers were all raised and sent to butcher we cleaned the lot and horse sheds and that was taken to garden and covered with any old or broken down hay covering it for winter. In early spring my dad would till it and work the soil in March for about a month everytime he was able. Then we had to rake out any hay and put it in strawberry and rasberry patches. We saved eggs, dead minnows, dead chickens and fish remains and dug deep by fruit trees deposited there. My mom would take horse poop and make a tea and pour on her roses and mums. They were always HUGE and full of blooms. My dad always said not to fertilize tomato plants too much b/c you would have lucious dark green plants with few blooms. He also culled alot of blooms /new fruits off the plants to prevent numerous small ones. My dad lived in family of 12. They had 6 gardens and my gpa was known all around for his garden crops. They truly had to self-sustain. I used to complain about all this work but I know now it is a gift that I can now pass to my children as well as rhow to raise our own meat and chickens., how to hunt and fish as well.

    1. John de Sa says:

      Thank you Lori, for this small explanation of your childhood and tell us how things were done so well. Some people like me still doing it, but not many wants to get dirty or do the hardwork, no wonder why our children and population is getting sick.
      John de Sa

    2. sANDY says:

      Excellent article. I have a feeling I have read it before, but always look at it with new eyes, having learned so much in the subsequent year. Loved Lori’s description. Stories from a family teaming up to use the riches from their farm helped me see us using what we already generate, and ways in which we might increase our investment portfolio! I, too want to print every page, laminate them and refer to it like a manure-proofed handbook!

  • David Townsend says:


    You didn’t mention birds except chickens. We have a friend who raises pigeons. Would cleaning out his loft make a good fertilizer. Any cautions concerning its use? Would a manure tea be the best way?

    1. Alfred D says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think pigeon droppings contain a high amount of ammonia (or something similar) as you can get very ill from walking around old barns where pigeons have roosted for a long time. Presumably ammonia has an adverse affect on plants, I think. Stick with chicken drippings!

    2. redbeard says:

      Yes. Ive been using some quail shit with great results, my red Russian kale is HUGE!

  • cate says:

    what can i use to make my fertilizer last longer even fo parking

  • Ruby says:

    Hi, I am new to fertilizing and gardening in general. Have been skipping on fertilizing for fear of screwing up and killing the plants, which has happened to me in the past with ‘cooking water’… so my question really is where did i mess up? I cooked sweet potatoes waited for the water to cool and then watered my then very small garden. Which consisted mainly of succulents at the time. No lie, all except for one of the plants were orange the next morning and eventually died.

    I was so dissapointed i quit gardening for a while but recently started a new garden with mostly edibles, peppers, a dwarf peach tree, celery, pomegranate tree, cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya and a few non edibles like hibiscus, elephant bush (which I recently heard is actually edible ?) and other succulents.

    Please if anyone know where i screwed up i would really like to know as i am always dissapointed at all the kitchen waste I put out. Recently started vermicomposting but is such a slow process ?.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


  • Carla says:

    My grandpa used to bury fish guts in a nylon in the ground near his tomato plants. He won prizes for his tomatoes.

  • Teri G says:

    I’ve heard about using corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent herbicide, and am interested in trying it in the spring. Any ideas on how I might non-gmo corn gluten meal?

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Hi Teri – If there’s an organic nursery in your region, give them a call – some organic nurseries carry it seasonally in the spring and fall. The timing is key – you have to watch your weeds & strike with the corn gluten just before the weeds emerge. If you wait too long, you can accidentally fertilize the weeds instead of preventing them.

  • Yeahboy says:

    Thank you. A question we have a hay field down an it’s been rained on, now it is unsellable. Would you know what nutrients I could make of it.

  • larry says:

    Hello Teri, I grow comfrey and use the leaves for many things one is to make comfrey tea about 6 leaves to a 5 gal. Pail and wait for leaves to rot then use on plants, my question is do you know if I need to add additional water to mixture before Appling to plants. Sometime I spray and sometimes add directly to soil. Thanks, larry

  • Flomena says:

    Have just got answers to a thousand questions that keep disturbing me.unfortunate i cant save them now.

  • Ljerka says:


    one of the good solutions is so called “organko” here in Slovenia, a bokashi system to produce your own organic fertilizer from your kitchen waste. Doesn’t smell 🙂 http://bokashi-organico.com/

  • Seb & Lysa says:

    Very insightful post. I love that you detail nutritional content of some of the material proposed as I am interested in the composition of them for more precise homemade fertilizers to use on a per mac ultra farm. I was wondering if you knew, or posted on the matter already or maybe a future post on the use of specific plants used as tea or green manure ? I was thinking of plants like comfrey, nettle, horsetail and all of the likes? Thanks to share such useful info, keep up the good work.

  • Seb & Lysa says:

    A question about hair from hair salons and pet groomers. .. are the chemical used by them an issue of any sorts? I have read that it was safe in compost as bacteria would digest the chemicals… any truth there or more insight ?

  • John Flanery says:

    When I clicked on this article I figured it would be about using urine. Too squeamish? Urine does not present the disease risks of humanure. Dilute it 40:1 for plant starts (after the 1st true leaf), and 80:1 for outdoor irrigation.

  • s says:

    I was wondering if you intended you use ‘baking soda’ vs ” baking powder”?

  • AMOS OBI says:

    Great information that is needed by all. Thank you for sharing

  • Federico Alibay says:

    Thanks for greet information .

  • chalkeba yadesa says:


    1. Amy says:

      Totally <3 it's awesome
      Wish more people realised they can use their own gardens to produce food, and wish everyone respected and supported that as well.

  • Good and resourceful article

  • Amy says:

    Awesome article, thank you!
    I was planning to regrow the leftovers from some veggies as lettuce, ginger, onions etc at home and needed some clues on what natural ingredients to use! Now I can happily regrow inside my kitchen 🙂

    Thanks so much!


  • Nance says:

    None of these specifically mention Potassium (K), which it seems my soil almost totally without. It is very high in Phoshorous (too high, the Ag people said) and I can easily add nitrogen. But how do I add potassium. And it is true, my plants grow slowly. BTW, my soil is alkaline also (7.4.)

    Any advise?

    1. Scott says:

      Granite dust is one easy way to add potassium. Also hardwood ash and banana peels.

  • Daphne says:

    Great article. Almost anything organic makes good compost. Paper from the shredder. And besides green tea mentioned here, all teas (after you drink it, tealeaves left in teapot with new water added over night) are beneficial. In particular, I’ve noticed that jasmine tea is great for making houseplants flower. You will be amazed.

  • Jennifer says:

    Excellent article! Now I need to figure out how to save it.

  • Anoj Agarwala says:

    Google “JEEVAMRUT” and prepare. It is extremely simple but very very effective. We extensively use in India and get excellent results.

  • Jp saini says:

    I think jeevamrit with worm compost tea may do wonders in your garden.you can further use banana peels egg Sheal Epsom salt fish seaweed emulsion with 2-3 inch layer of compost and wood chips as a thick layer of mulch.

  • Kate says:

    Thank you! This is a helpful, creative and fun article !

  • Ismari Vega says:

    Wanted to share this permaculture wisdom about how to detoxify wastes that could eventually become beneficial in our gardens and to us; from http://www.zeri.org/ZERI/Five_Design_Principles.html–basically, it has to pass through at least 2 other kingdoms (Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, Archaea/Archaeabacteria, and Bacteria/Eubacteria) to become neutral or beneficial to the originating entity. It’s more intuitive than I’m making it, read the link for better context.

    I have native black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) to do compost in the warm climate where I live. Their waste is an extremely potent fertilizer so dilute 1:100.

    I’ve just applied some cat manure that the larva, aka BSFL (and symbiotic bacteria) devoured a few years ago to the base of a ciuple maple trees in my yard. I am trusting that it will provide a slow release fertilizer. Waste not, want not >>> translation: when you don’t waste, you want for nothing.

  • Peter says:

    It surprises me profoubdly thst you have no mention of urine, poop and especially dead animal bodies and rotten meat at all. Dead bodies are THE VERY BEST natural fertilisers one could ever look for.

    1. Love the picture. I like that you have an image of Trunks grabbing his sword while you talk about dead bodies. The Freeza race must make an excellent green layer.

  • Peter says:

    It surprises me profoundly that you have no mention of urine, poop and especially dead animal bodies and rotten meat at all. Dead bodies are by far THE VERY BEST natural fertilisers one could ever look for.

    1. Ann says:

      I am profoundly surprised that someone would take the time to criticize an article they apparently did not take the time to read. Had you read it you would have noticed that the homemade fertilizer recipes included things like urine, manure, and crushed bones (that would be your dead animals there).

  • love his informative article.Thank you

    1. Marjory says:

      Thank you, Judy! So happy to hear you enjoyed it. 🙂

  • Anthoney lopez says:

    hi my name is anthoney and im student at gilroy high school and an ffa member and i have to do my sae project and i was wondering if you could tell me how to make fertilizer out of animal fecal matter

    1. Ann says:

      Anthony, take a look at the Manure Tea section of the article above. That might help you out.

  • micheal chee says:

    HI, If i am using cook corn and high phosporous material will enchant fruit bud flowering?
    and any idea for the formula

  • Zac says:

    Good article Joe

    Nice tip for roses with the banana peels. I’ll have to remember that one.

  • Tejan bhavsar says:

    if i make some fertilizer at home and its in big quantity now i want to sell it,Who can buy my fertilizer?and how much i can earn from it..?

  • Sabrina says:

    I actually differ from here because i am a busy person with gardening as my hobby. I cannot spend so much time on this stuff. Hence i use synthetic NPK – 20 20 20 once in 15 days. I was infact influenced by this video on youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y654mtxQKmY
    And i am doing well, my plants are really growing healthy.

  • Kaden says:

    The director of the garden program for the community program in my town years ago was my neighbor. He got me into gardening. He would follow his Chihuahua around and make a gallon jug of manure tea from it. So dog pooey works for some people. I didn’t use it because I had small kids in my garden with me and they liked to pick stuff and just run it under the hose and eat it. But because they eat meat it is no good? I don’t have a dog but just wondering

  • Scott says:

    Technically – more of a soil conditioner – biochar is something I would add to this list. If you burn wood – either hardwood or softwood, and the remaining charcoal is thoroughly burned (nearly pure carbon) – you can add this to soil to help improve drainage and enhance soil nutrient retention (particularly important for deficient soils). However, this needs to be activated with a nitrogen source, and perhaps other food for the beneficial microbes to colonize the charcoal. If it’s not properly colonized the carbon will take nutrients (N) away, so it’s a step that cannot be omitted. But, by using a lot of pee (maybe 1 gallon to 4 of biochar), and adding compost, and bat guano – you can have a mix ready in 1-2 weeks.

  • ginia says:

    My problem is the curling new leaf of Bay Leaf Tree I am grooming; its got white tiny insects. Thanks for this srticle I have learnt a Lot!

  • Michael says:

    I learned something new today. I definitely did not know that human hair can be used as a fertilizer!

  • Tanda Mbua says:

    I A Farmer In Cameroon I Want To Know More On How Grow My Crops Especially Cocoa

  • Ytoc says:

    It answered my questions…thanks for the clear information.

  • GILLUM says:

    Lime and pet waste Japanese circle. Simply aquire a plastic garbage can or wide pvc or plastic pipe. If a trash can cut out the bottom or drill many holes. Place in the center of a tight circle of desirable plants. Ideally 12-18 inches from the nutrient cylinder (I learned of the Japanese circle by researching tomatoe growing methods but I would love to try it on other acid loving plants). Fill the container gradually with pet waste and modest dusting of lime and water frequently. If you’re scooping poop regularly anyway you may as well put it to work. I’ve heard that dog droppings are unadviseable compost but my tomaoe plants have grown large and productive with this method. I adamantly did not add anything besides dog waste and lime to get a controlled variable on this method but I’m sure many other things can be used in the nutrients cylinder.

  • Excellent and powerful information. I am happy to visit your site. I am not disappointed at all.
    Please keep it up.

  • Really no matter if someone doesn’t understand after that its up to other users that they will assist, so here
    it occurs.

  • Jason says:

    So this may be a dumb question, but I’ll ask anyway. When using coffee grounds (I have some acid loving plants), the article says to let them dry first. I am not currently drinking coffee but I have several pounds of ground beans in my cupboard. Can I simply sprinkle dry, unused coffee grounds in my garden? Or does the coffee need to be brewed first to release the good stuff? Thanks! Great article.

  • Arvind says:

    Great article. Keep feeding us!! Thanks a lot!!

  • T.HAYKEL.M says:


  • Beverly Blades says:

    Really great article that I would like to Pin on my garden /plant board on Pinterest but I did not see that as an option…maybe next time…you should look into into it…thanks.

  • Babu says:

    Hi Alan..
    Very good article..You covered everything what people want to know about organic manure.I am sure this will he helpful to people..Keep going..

  • Sandy says:

    Pressed for time and haven’t quite read all comments, but I do want to add that, while respecting that gardening/farming organically is very much a lifestyle choice, in the last few years there is quite a lot of medical evidence about technologies and agro-chemicals that can do great harm to people and the livestock and crops that feed them? Are there plans to write an article about where the current dividing lines are for filtering through our non-organic food stream for compost components that may still have toxic consequences after composting?

  • RUSS says:


  • khill says:

    It has been my understanding that you can apply rabbit manure right on your garden because it isn’t hot like chicken manure. Supposedly, rabbit manure doesn’t have to compost and is still safe to use. What are your thoughts?

  • Pati says:

    Molasses is high in lead. I only use it on non-edibles in containers.
    Here is a great recipe for composting dog poop. Trees and shrubs love it! Never use on edibles.
    In a 5 gallon bucket with a tight lid, put a layer of leaves in the bottom. Then a layer of dog poop. Rotate these layers until the bucket is full, always ending with leaves on top. When the bucket is full put the lid on tight and leave it. I don’t remember how long it takes (2-5 months?) but when it is completely rotted there is no smell at all and the bucket is full of clean black loam. I have used this on trees that were sickly and depleted and watched them come all the way back to thriving with one treatment. Put a layer of this compost around the bases of trees and anything that is away from food.

  • Shelly B says:

    5 Star all the way. Thanks for info

  • Vgggg says:

    Not gooooood

  • Gina says:

    My garden is near the ocean in Alaska. We cover all the garden beds with tons of seaweed taken right off the beach. We don’t rinse or wash the salt off, just put it directly on the garden bed. Possibly we have enough rain to wash the salt away, but there has never been any adverse effect. Same for making seaweed tea.

  • mike red says:

    Great post and forum here everyone, i stick to my tried and true eggshell tea, coffee grinds, and orange peels for my compost . i do a little grow op every year, and this does great for me, cant wait to try all the other suggestions on here. everyone have a great day.

    remember! we all share 1 sky 🙂

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