A Complete Guide to Using Natural Fertilizer in Your Garden

Fertilizer basically is necessary nutrients for the plants. Fertilizer is produced naturally, compost for instance, or in the factories, for example, chemical fertilizer. Natural fertilizer is the nutrients for the plants produced naturally, in other words, natural fertilizer is a fertilizer for plants that do not contain chemicals and toxins harmful to human consumption.

Industrial farming may not be quite possible without the use of chemical fertilizer, however, for small farmers, and urban farmers, natural fertilizer can be a good option. If you are a small farmer orr urban farmer, there is no denying that you should use natural fertilizer in your garden and farm. There are many benefits of using natural fertilizer such as growing organic produce, protecting the environment, minimizing the investment,, etc. If you also want to use natural fertilizer in your garden, here is a complete guide to using natural fertilizer in your garden and farm.

ALFALFA MEAL

Alfalfa meal is a commercially produced natural fertilizer. NPK content (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium) ratio is 3-2-2. It is used as a soil conditioner and top dressing, and also as a garden fertilizer to increase organic matter in the soil. It helps to decompose organic matter rapidly. Alfalfa’s high content of carbohydrates and protein encourages beneficial soil microbes and earthworms to quickly breakdown the nutrients and make them available for use by the plants.

How to Use

Shred alfalfa and let it dry, then crush it to make a coarse powder. Apply in the soil before planting and during the growth stage.

Add one cup of alfalfa meal in 5 liters of water and let it sit for at least 1 week. Use this mixture in your plant foliage as well as in the soil.

You can also use a crop cover in your garden or farm.

Apply in the soil while preparing the soil for planting or during the growing stage. For every 100 square meters of land, apply 6 kg of this natural fertilizer.

Benefits

Alfalfa meal is a good source of minerals such as Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Sulfur, Magnesium, Boron, Iron, and Zinc.

It builds organic matter. If included in your compost, it will decompose fast which can help speed-up your composting process.

It feeds beneficial microorganism in your soil and also control nematodes. Alfalfa has almost perfect balance of carbon to nitrogen (24:1).

It stimulates the growth of plant roots and enhances photosynthesis. Alfalfa contains triacontanol, a hormone that stimulates plant roots.

It serves as nitrogen fixer.

AQUARIUM OR FISH POND WATER

Natural fertilizers are not only produced commercially in factories but also can be found naturally. Did you know you can also use your aquarium water as natural fertilizer? The aquarium water has a lot of fish poop, traces of fish foods, and good microbes. Aquarium water has a good amount of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium) as well as iron, zinc, calcium, etc.

How to Use

If you have an aquarium or fish pond, you don’t have to do anything to make this natural fertilizer, your fishes will do the work. You just don’t throw away aquarium/ fish pond water, feed your plants.

Benefits

Aquarium water contains beneficial bacteria as well as potassium phosphorus, nitrogen, and trace nutrients that will promote root, shoot, as well as flowers and fruits.

Caution

If you are using salt water in your aquarium, do not use in your plants. If you want to use anyway, dilute with fresh water.

BANANA PEEL

You can also use your kitchen waste (organic waste) as natural fertilizer and banana peels are very good natural fertilizer. Banana is rich in potassium and other minerals needed by our plants. In 100 grams banana peel, there are 358 mg of Potassium, 27 mg of Magnesium, 22 mg of Phosphorus, and other minor minerals.

How to Make Natural Fertilizer From Banana Peel and Use in Your Plants

Banana Peel Tea: Fill a jar with water, add a couple of banana peels, let it sit for 48 hours. Spray on foliage and soil. If your plants need potassium, banana peel is the best natural fertilizer.

Banana Peel Fertilizer: Chop banana peels into small pieces, bury the peels at least 5 inches deep into the soil and plant your seedlings.

Banana Compost: Add your banana peel in your compost pile.

BAT MANURE

Bat manure is rich with nutrients necessary for plants. The ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium is 10:3:1.

How to Use

Bat dung can be obtained from caves or any place where there are many bats. You can directly apply to your soil or steep in water overnight and water your plants. You can use bat manure while preparing the soil as well as feeding the plants during the growing and fruit bearing stage. You can add to the soil directly or dilute in water and water the plants. It can be used fresh or dried. Bat manure should be applied in smaller quantities.

Benefits

Provides a high concentration of nutrients to plants and the soil

 It has 10 percent Nitrogen, 3 percent Phosphorus, and 1 percent Potassium

BONE MEAL

We usually throw the bones of pork, beef, chicken, and fish. Do you realize by throwing bones, you are wasting a great fertilizer for your plants.  Bone meal contains phosphorus. By the way, you can also buy bone meal fertilizer from the store.

How to Use

 In case you are not buying bone meal fertilizer and making your own bone meal fertilizer, here is an easy way to do this. Collect the bones, clean and sun dry. You might have to sun dry for at least one month. When the bones are dried, crush them and make powder. You can then add this powder in the soil. For every 10 square feet, use one pound of bone meal. Alternatively, dilute bone meal in water and spray in your garden. The ratio is one table spoon for 5 liters water.

Benefits

Provides phosphorus and calcium.

Costs no money provided you are making your own bone meal fertilizer.

BLOOD MEAL

To enrich vegetable and flower gardens, they need more nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium. Blood meal provides all of these for your vegetable and flower plants.

How to Make Blood Meal Fertilizer and How to Use Blood Meal Fertilizer

Get the blood from your chicken, pig, goat, or even fish. Cook the blood until it becomes completely dry. Let it cool down and then put in a blender to make a powdered blood meal.

Apply blood meal fertilizer during the growing season. Do not apply to seedlings. Do not apply on legumes because they are nitrogen-fixers. Sprinkle the blood meal around your plants.

Apply 10 to 30 pounds of blood meal per 1000 square foot.

Benefits

Your plant will be more attractive due to blood meal’s nitrogen content, it serves as nitrogen fixers for your soil

COFFEE GROUNDS

Coffee grounds contain 1.45 percent nitrogen. They also contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, and trace minerals needed by your plants.

How to Use

Collect the coffee grounds after you make coffee. It is ready to be used as natural fertilizer directly to the soil in your garden. You can also put coffee grounds in your compost bin. It is “green” because it is rich in Nitrogen.

 You can also add two cups of coffee ground in a gallon of water and let ir sit for a couple of days, and use this water to water your plants or spray over the foliage.

 Add a cup of coffee grounds to your wormcasting. The worms love coffee grounds.

Benefits

When decomposed, they release nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and other trace minerals that support plant growth.

COMPOST

Compost is a natural fertilizer obtained after the organic matter is decomposed. Good quality compost is available in granules form and contains moisture. Nutrients in compost differ according to what you decompose. Compost is very essential when you are doing organic farming.

How to Make Your Own Compost

You can make compost in compost bins or compost pits depending on availability or resources.

On the bottom of your compost bin/pit toss green matter (green leaves, grass clippings, etc.). Top with brown/dried matter (dried leaves, twigs, etc.). Add a thin layer of soil. If you have compost from previous compost, you can also add this to your compost, this will let the matter decompose faster. Continue to add green and brown matter, and top with soil. Do not use in organic products, chemically treated products, etc.

Turn the pile upside down every two weeks, until everything decomposes.

How to Use Compost

Compost is used to enrich soil with nutrients and can be used for every kinds of plants.

You can use compost during potting mix preparation, or soil preparation or during growth stage.

You can be mixed with water to make compost tea.

Benefits

Composting will save you money on fertilizer

Composting will help you manage your organic waste

Compost will improve soil condition.

Compost will make the soil lose and improve drainage.

Compost promote roots and shoot growth.

Improves immunity in plants.

COMPOST TEA

Compost tea is a liquid fertilizer for flowers, vegetables and house plants made by diluting compost in water

How to Make Compost Tea

Fill 1/3 of bucket with compost.

Add water upto the brim of the bucket (rainwater or deep well water is preferred)

Let the mixture steep for 3-4 days. Stir it now and then.

Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or other porous fabric into another bucket. Add the remaining solid to your garden or compost bin.

Dilute the tea with water in 10:1 ratio, ten parts water and one part compost tea, while using on new plants, potted plants, saplings. For grown-up plants, you can directly use tea to water the plants..

 Use the compost tea immediately for optimal absorption into the soil around plants.

 Use as a foliar spray. Strain tea through a fine mesh cloth. Dilute it with water in a ratio of 1:10, one part tea and 10 parts water. Mix one tablespoon dishwashing liquid or vegetable oil before spraying in plants. The purpose of adding vegetable oil or dishwashing is to make the solution stick to the plants.

Benefits

 It will increase plant growth.

It will provide nutrients to plant and soil.

It will provide beneficial organisms.

It will help suppress diseases.

It replaces toxic garden chemicals.

CORN GLUTEN MEAL

During the milling of corn, you get a powdery byproduct called Corn gluten meal. This can be used as a natural fertilizer. This is a low-grade fertilizer that can also be used as weed control. Corn gluten has NPK ratio of 0.5-0.5-1.

How to Use

Apply by hand or using a spreader in the soil. It can be applied at any time while preparing the soil or during feeding the plant. Since it releases nitrogen slowly over 3-4 months after application, it is better to use while preparing the soil.

Benefits

Organic fertilizer feeds lawns naturally.

Helps build strong turf.

Use for pre-emergent weed control.

Safe and environmentally friendly.

COTTONSEED MEAL

Cottonseed meal fertilizer is a slow-release fertilizer and it is a dry byproduct during the production of cotton. (NPK – 6-1-1)

How to Make

Unless you live in the areas where there is cotton farm or cotton mill, you may not get enough cottonseed. However, if you manage to get cottonseed, collect seeds, cold press press cotton seeds to extract oil. The left over is cottonseed meal that you can use as natural fertilizer. By you can also find cottonseed meal fertilizer in some garden store.

How to Use

Use cottonseed on flowering plants but do not apply to fast growing vegetable seedlings.

 Add it to the compost heap to add extra nitrogen to the compost as the process of decomposition requires extra nitrogen.

Add 4-6 pounds of cottonseed fertilizer per 100 square feet. It will give your soil the boost it needs to deliver quality produce.

Benefits

Provides nitrogen, potash and phosphorus.

Improves soil’s texture.

Helps build humus for proper growth and health.

Loosens packed soil.

Provides some thickness to light and sandy soil.

EGG SHELLS

The three major nutrients needed by plants are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) but calcium is also essential for our plants especially fruit-bearing plants. Eggshells are a good source of calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

How to make

Sundry eggshells and grind to make powder add to the soil or make a spray by mixing in water. You can also directly apply dried and crushed eggshells into the soil or as mulch. You may also mix it with other organic matter and add to the soil few inches deep. This will help newly plants thrive.

Benefits

 It will provide calcium to your plant.

It will reduce acidity of your soil.

Will help aerate your soil.

EPSOM SALT

Epsom salt gets its name from an English town where it was first discovered. Since its discovery it has been used for various purposes including fertilizer, fungicide, pesticide, etc. Epsom salt is not a salt but hydrated magnesium sulfate.

How to Use

You can add Epsom salt directly to the soil or make a solution of Epsom salt and water and either spray in the foliage or water the soil.

Benefits

Good source of magnesium and sulfur

It will strengthen the cell walls of your plant.

Improves nutrient retention in plants

It will give sweeter and tastier fruits.

FEATHER MEAL

Feather meal contains 13 percent nitrogen, which is a very good amount for natural fertilizer. Feather meal actually is feather of poultry that is used as natural fertilizer.The only problem with feather meal fertilizer is it does not make liquid fertilizer because it is not water-soluble. (NPK – 13-0-0)

How to Make

It is a by-product of poultry processing. You can add it to your compost or add to the soil 4-6 inches deep, especially for trees and shrubs. When you use in your compost, it helps organic waste to decompose fast.

Benefits

Decomposition activator for compost.

Increase green leaf growth.

Improves soil structure

FISH EMULSION

Fish emulsion is a good natural fertilizer for vegetables as well as flowers. Using fresh fish that still have all their parts intact are even better than the commercial fish emulsion. (NPK – 5-2-2)

How to Make

Fill a 2/3 of a bucket with fish scraps and brown organic matter (dried leaves, saw dust, etc) in equal parts.

Add water until the materials are all covered.

Cover the bucket with a lid and keep it out of the sun.

Every 3-4 days stir the solution until it is ready to apply, which is about 6 weeks.

How to Use

Dilute the emulsion with water,  1 cup of emulsion to a gallon of water.

You can use it to water your plants or use it as a foliage spray.

Benefits

Higher crop yields.

Provides quick nitrogen boost to the soil.

Makes your foliage green.

GELATIN

Did you know gelatin can also be used as a fertilizer, but use the unflavored gelatin. Unflavored gelatin is a good source of nitrogen and it has been proven effective in promoting plant growth.

How to Make

Add some unflavored gelatin in a half cup of water, allow to soften for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 cup water to the gelatin mixture, stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add more water to make it 1 liter. The fertilizer is ready to use as a foliage spray or watering the plants. Use the mixture for watering your plants once a month.

Benefits

Promotes healthy plant growth.

Inexpensive source of nitrogen.

Unlikely to result in excessive nitrogen build-up.

GRASS CLIPPINGS TEA

Just like compost tea, you can also make grass clipping tea. Compost tea or grass clipping tea is liquid fertilizer for your plants that you can use to water the plants for better growth or spray on the leaves, flowers and fruits. Nutrient contents of grass clipping tea varies depending on what type of grass clippings you use. In any case it is rich in Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, iron, etc.

How to Make

To brew grass clipping tea toss grass clippings in a container and fill the container with water. Let it sit for 3-4 days. Strain and add to the plants soil or spray in the foliage. Green grass clippings is rich with amino acids, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc.

If you are using grass clipping tea for young plants, dilute in water by mixing 100 ml in 900 ml water. Water the plants roots or spray on the shoots.

Benefits

Helps in the growth of root system as well as shoot system.

USED TEA LEAVES AND TEA BAGS

Just like used coffee grounds, you can also use used tea to fertilize your plants. You can either toss used tea in the compost bins, or collect in a jar and use while making the potting mix or add as a feed during the growing stage. Instead of lose tea, if you use tea bags, you can also use those used tea bags provided the bags are made up of decomposable material. You can either use the whole tea bag or tear the tea bag before using it for your plants.

How to Use

Rinse the used tea leaves or tea bag for any traces of sugar. Collect tea/tea bags in a container. Add to the soil

Benefits

Provides nourishment to your plants.

Improves moisture retention in the soil.

Controls weed.

Increases oxygen levels for microbes and nematodes.

GREEN MANURE

Green manure r is very popular among many farmers and gardeners, especially among those who have a farm or live in the rural areas. It has numerous benefits for the urban home gardeners as well.

How to Use

Professional farmers grow certain variety of crop that is cut and then plowed into the soil for improving soil fertility or humus. Green manure can also be a by product of a green harvest that is cut into pieces and directly applied in the soil or spread in the soil to dry and then plowed. The green manure crops are grass mixtures and legume plants, such as alfalfa, peas, peanut, etc.

Benefits

It will provide additional nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

It releases nitrogen as crop used in green manure are nitrogen-fixers.

Prevents leaching.

Prevents soil erosion.

Prevents weed growth.

HAIR

Hair can be used to fertilize your plants. Next time you go to a parlor or barber shop, ask your hairdresser/barber to give back your hair to you and use it on your plants.

How to Use

Get your hair from the barber shop or parlor. Add directly to your soil or add it in your compost pile.

Benefits

It will help retain soil moisture and keep your plants hydrated.

Nitrogen will be released slowly.

HUMUS

Humus is actually not a fertilizer. It is an organic matter that is left in the soil for decomposition. Humus is the result of decomposed organic matter in the soil. The plants need a good amount of humus in the soil for healthy growth and better yield. The potting soil should contain at least 5 percent humus.

How to Make

By adding add organic matter such as plant clippings, leaves, other organic waste etc. during the soil preparation, you can increase humus, which will in the long run increase soil nutrients.

Benefits

Humus makes the soil lose for root prorogation and better drainage.

Since humus is decaying organic matter, it continues to provide necessary nutrients for a long time.

LIQUID KELP

Kelp, a seaweed, is a good natural fertilizer. You can use it as mulch, make tea, liquid fertilizer, or simply use as a normal natural fertilizer by mixing in the soil.

How to Use

If you live in a coastal area, you can get it yourself. You can also buy in the garden store. Kelp can be used to make liquid fertilizer.

wash properly before using as it may be high in salts that can burn your plants.

Use as mulch, add to compost bin, make liquid fertilizer, make tea, add to drip irrigation, choice is yours.

Benefits

Improves seed germination, helps to develop extensive roots systems.

Provides nutrients for shoot development, helps the leaves, flowers, and fruits to develop.

Improves immunity on plants.

MANURE

If you have a farm or live near a farm, you can easily find manure. You can buy manure from various animals from fertilizer shop or directly from farm. You can use manuer from all kinds of animals including humans. The best, or rather say the most common type of manuer is chicken poop, goat poops, cow dung, horse dung, rabbit poop etc. For the best results you will have to dry manuer before using it, fresh manure can kill the plants. Best way to use it is letting it decompose for 4-5 months.

Manure’s NPK

Chicken : 1 –  0.80 – 0.50

Cow : 25 – 0.15 – 0.25

Horse : 70 – 0.30 – 0.60

Rabbit : 2.4 – 1.4 – 0.60

Sheep: 0.70 – 0.30 – 0.90

How to Use

Manure is used as fertilizer by adding to the soil while soil preparation or during the feeding time. However, manure is not used as mulch. Never put raw manure directly on your garden soils as it attracts pests or even harm plants. Manure release nitrogen and ammonia which can burn plant roots, young plants and interfere with seed germination.

Benefits

Improves soil structure and adds nutrients.

Holds moisture.

Improves micro organism activity.

It will increase soil carbon.

Reduce atmospheric carbon levels.

Reduce soil erosion.

Reduce nitrate leaching

MOLASSES

Generally speaking, molasses is used as sweetener in baked items as well as animal feed. However, molasses is also one of the primary ingredients in fermented fertilizer and natural fertilizer. Molasses is a byproduct formed while processing sugarcane or grapes.

How to Use

Molasses is full of various minerals and vitamins not only good for human and animal consumption, but also for the plants. It is added to compost, liquid fertilizer, compost tea, alfalfa meal, and kelp, to name a few.

Benefits

Molasses is rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.

It also contains sulfur and host of micronutrients.

Encourages the growth of beneficial micro-organisms.

MORINGA

Moringa oleifera, or simply Moringa, is a medicinal plant that has been used for conditions like diabetes and hypertension for a long time. The fruits and the leaves of Moringa plant is edible. While fruits make great vegetables, leaves can be used for healing. One teaspoon of Moringa leaves powder in a glass of warm water for 30 days can help you lose at least 4 pounds of weight. Interestingly, there have been a lot of studies that have established that Moringa can also be used as fertilizer for the plants. The studies have found that the Moringa leaf contains compounds that can actually stimulate growth in plants. Studies confirmed that Moringa when used as fertilizer, crop yield increased.

How to Make

Grind moringa leaves and small twigs and mix it in water. Add this mixture to the soil. Alternatively, you can also strain it and spray it on the plants. You can also add Moringa leaves and twigs in the soil, plow it properly 2-3 weeks prior to planting. Alternarively, dry Moringa leaves and make a powder, add this powder to the soil. You can also use Moringa leaves as mulch.

Benefits

Moringa provides various vitamins and minerals for the plants. It also improves nitrogen, phosphorous and potash content in the soil.

MUSHROOM COMPOST

Mushroom compost is simply compost that has already been used to grow mushroom. It is a by-product of growing mushrooms. (NPK – 2-1-1)

How to Use

Mushroom are grown in organic matter such as peat moss, straw, hay poultry litter etc. Mushroom compost is actually the substrate you get after harvesting mushroom. You can add to the soil a week before planting your plants. This will allow the soluble salts to release so that it becomes less harmful to the plants. To minimize the risk, you can use mushroom compost with green manure or even general compost in 50-50 ratio.

Benefits

It contains 1.12 percent Nitrogen, 0.67 percent Phosphorus, 1.24 percent Potassium, 2.29 percent Calcium, 0.35 percent magnesium, and 1.07 percent Iron.

SOYBEAN

Soybean is cultivated all over the world for its high protein and lipid content. Before chemical fertilizers were invented, soybeans were widely used as fertilizer. All parts of soybean plants, soybeans, stem, and roots can be used as fertilizer. In fact, even when you plant soybean, the soil will gain nitrogen as soy roots have nitrogen-fixing bacteria that traps atmospheric nitrogen.  The NPK ratio in soy is 7-2-1.

How to Use

You can make powder and add this powder to the soil. You can also cut soy stems into small pieces and apply in the soil. Or use byproducts of soybeans after oil has been extracted.

Benefits

Enriches the soil with nitrogen.

Promote vegetative growth and early plant development.

Contains Calcium, Vitamins A and B.

URINE

Studies suggest that urine is a safe and very effective fertilizer for plants. NPK – 18-2-5 (straight urine); 15-1-3 (diluted with water)

How to Use:

You can use animal urine or even human urine. However, urine should not directly put on the plants. Dilute urine with 8 to 10 parts water and apply it to the soil. Urinate directly on straw bale and use the straw bale in your compost

Benefits

It contains a high amount of Nitrogen and a moderate amount of Phosphorous and Potassium, as well as macro and micronutrient essentials for plant growth such as Zinc, Chromium, Nickel, etc.

WATER FROM BOILED VEGETABLES

Water from boiled vegetables can be used  for your garden plants. It release nutrients of one kind or another.  CAUTION: Don’t put salt!!

How to Use

Let the water cool down, and then water your plants.

Benefits

It depends on what you boiled. For example, egg boiled water gets you calcium, spinach boiled water gets you iron, etc.

WOOD ASH

Wood ash is a source of potassium and phosphorous for your garden. It also has several trace elements needed for your plants to thrive.

How to Use

Gather all the wood ash from your wood stove or bonfire. CAUTION: Do not get wood ash from chemically treated wood. Spread on your garden soil and mix well with the soil. Apply when the dirt is dry or at least 3 weeks before planting. Sprinkle over the foliage to stop fungus from developing, or when your plants are attacked by bugs.

Benefits

Plants will benefit from the potassium content of wood ash.

Acts as liming agent and reduce the acidity of the soil.

It can be used in your compost to help in increasing the fertility of the soil.

It is a natural pest repellent and fungicide.

WORMCAST OR VERMICAST

Worm cast or vermicompost is an organic fertilizer made by earthworms. Actually, Vermicompost is earthworms poop. NPK – 3-3-1

How to Make

Add organic matter to a 6 inch deep wooden plank tray. The size of tray depends on your resources.

Fill the tray with organic matter such as grass clippings, organic waste, kitchen waste etc.

Release earthworms. You can get these earthworms from garden store.

After the worms eat all organic matter, collect the worms, and release them in another tray. You can also wash worms in water before releasing them in another tray, and water your plants with this water.

Collect worm cast and let it dry in shaded area.

How to Use

You can use vermicompost just like regular compost. However, vermicompost is better than ordinary compost. You can also mix an equal amount of vermicompost and regular compost and feed to the soil. The recommended use of vermicompost is one pound for 30 square feet garden. You add vermicompost during soil preparation as well as while feeding plants. When you are using vermicompost for seedlings, it is better to mix with regular compost.

Benefits

Increases soil nutrients.

Improves water retention.

Improves water drainage.

Promotes plant growth.

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