There’s an endless variety of fertilizers you can buy at the store. There’s an endless variety of fertilizers you can buy at the store.

But did you know you can make your own natural fertilizer at home? 

DIY fertilizers come with the following benefits:

  • Better for the soil: DIY fertilizers are better for the health of your soil and the environment, as they’re made from renewable resources (unlike synthetic chemical fertilizers)
  • Save money: Making your own fertilizer is cheaper than store-bought options
  • Less risky: Synthetic fertilizers can be dangerous to plants if they’re overused or applied incorrectly. Natural fertilizers don’t come with this risk
  • Safer for humans & pets: Chemical fertilizers can lead to a buildup of toxic chemicals (cadmium, uranium, arsenic) in the soil, which could end up in your garden’s produce or your lawn’s grass, which may be harmful if consumed by your dog or cat

Making your own fertilizer means you know exactly what’s in it. And choosing natural ingredients means you’ll be nourishing your garden with fertilizer that’s safe for you, your family and the environment.

What’s in DIY Fertilizer?

A natural fertilizer should contain three essential ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

The question is, then, what natural products have those ingredients and how can you apply them in your garden?

Below are five different recipes for all-natural fertilizers that can save you money and save the environment, too!

Firewood Ash

The ash leftover after you burn wood in your fireplace or a fire pit has essential nutrients that your garden plants will love.

Firewood ash is full of potassium, phosphorous, boron, and calcium, which is great for your garden.

Plus, if you have a fireplace or fire pit, it’s free!

What you need to know about firewood ash:

  • Pick up a cheap soil pH tester and check if your soil is below a pH of 7. If it is, ash fertilizer may be helpful for your garden
  • Only apply ash to your garden if the soil is acidic. Ash is alkaline and will raise the pH of your soil
  • Don’t use ash from treated or stained wood, as the chemicals released will likely do more harm than good, and ultimately, defeat the purpose of trying to make a natural fertilizer
  • Wear a face mask, gloves, and eye protection when handling ash to avoid burning your eyes or skin, or inhaling the ash

Firewood makes a great and free nutrient booster in your garden. Spread the ashes lightly over your soil and water immediately after applying to make sure the ash doesn’t blow away in the breeze. Firewood makes a great and free nutrient booster in your garden.

Spread the ashes lightly over your soil and water immediately after applying to make sure the ash doesn’t blow away in the breeze.

Compost “Tea” Fertilizer

Compost “tea” is a liquid brewed with compost, just like brewing a cup of tea.

This liquid can be applied to your garden for an even distribution of nutrients to your plants’ root systems.

Think of it as liquid compost. The only thing you’ll need to make your own is a compost pile, a big bucket or barrel, water, and something to strain it with.

How to make compost tea fertilizer it:

  • Place 1 pound of compost and 5 gallons of water in a large bucket or barrel
  • Make sure it’s a clean barrel and not something that used for paint or any type of potentially toxic materials
  • Let it stew for one to two weeks. Stir once every couple of days• Strain the liquid through burlap or a large strainer
  • Pour the liquid directly around your plants. Don’t apply within 3 weeks of when you plan to pick any fruits or vegetables, as this “tea” may contain traces of E. coli, which needs time to leach out of your plant’s system

Household Refuse

There are any things you might use around the house on a regular basis that can be used as an effective DIY fertilizer.

Here are three common household items you can use in your garden:

Eggshells

  • The shell of a chicken egg is mostly made of calcium and decomposes quickly, making it great into your garden’s soil
  • If you’ve got a compost pile, just toss the shells in
  • Otherwise, you can crush them up and sprinkle them in the bottom of planting holes in the garden
  • The calcium is especially beneficial to tomatoes and peppers

Used Coffee Grounds

  • Instead of throwing your used grounds in the trash, throw them in your garden
  • Coffee is acidic, so it can to lower the pH of your soil and help your soil maintain moisture, which certain vegetables and fruits prefer
  • To maintain the pH of your soil, you can mix the coffee grounds with dead grass or other neutral materials
  • Composting coffee grounds can add healthy nitrogen to your compost pile

Fish Tank Water

  • If you’ve got a fresh water fish tank (not salt water), you’ve got a rich source of nitrogen on hand
  • Next time you clean the tank and change the water, use the old water to water your garden

Composted Manure

Composted manure is essentially “aged” cow manure. Cow manure is full of organic materials including nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, which makes it a great candidate for a natural fertilizer.

Composted manure loses some nitrogen in the composting process, but remains much safer for your plants as regular manure can contain a lot of ammonia, which is toxic for your garden.

By composting the manure, you can also introduce bacteria to the fertilizer. Bacterial helps slow down the release of nutrients, making the manure more efficient as a fertilizer and safer for your plant’s root systems.

You can buy composted cow manure at your local gardening store. Here’s how you can find a farm nearby that offers uncomposted manure for sale.

Here’s how to compost the manure yourself:

  • Clear a 3-4 foot square area near your garden
  • Cover the area with about 3 inches of organic material like hay, vegetable scraps or random debris from the garden
  • Apply 2 inches of cow manure
  • Continue until the pile is about 4 feet high
  • Water the pile until it is damp, then cover with soil
  • Turn the pile every 3-4 days
  • When the manure and other materials have broken down into a consistently earthy and dark brown material, you’ve got compost that’s ready to use!
  • You can also use a thermometer to check the inner temperature of the pile
  • When it stops generating heat (falling under 120 degrees), the compost is ready to be added to your garden

Commercial Options

If you’re not in the mood to make your own natural fertilizer, there are many natural, organic fertilizers to choose from at the store.

Natural fertilizers are made from plant and animal products or powdered minerals instead of chemicals or synthetic sources.

Making your own fertilizer can give your garden the organic, healthy boost it needs for your fruits and veggies to flourish this summer.

Ready to take your DIY gardening game to the next level? Discover how to make and use compost from your family’s food scraps >