Mostly from natural plant and animal materials, organic fertilizers contain essential nutrients plants need to grow. Overall, because they work slowly, they improve soil fertility, allowing your crops to flourish .
While you still need to exercise care with natural fertilizers, they are less likely to burn the roots if used correctly.
Below are some of the most widely-used types of organic and homemade plant fertilizers.
Most manures used on your farm come from cows, rabbits, chickens, sheep, and horses. They are great sources of vital plant nutrients — nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
Farmers mainly use rabbit manure on tomato plants because of its rich nitrogen-boosting qualities. However, be careful when using, as fresh manure can burn plants.
2. Earthworm Castings
All three of the nutrients (NPK) you’re going to want for your garden can be found in earthworm castings. Because of this, it is highly recommended for gardens specializing in flowers and vegetables.
Kelp meal contains small amounts of N-P-K. Besides, it has other vitamins and minerals and is easy to apply. It is bound to give any crop a much needed helping hand.
Simply mix it with water and spray or pour it around the plants.
Extremely common, mulch is material placed on the soil surface that can contain almost any natural plant source.
Bark, pine needles, or even grass mixed to create a healthy batch of glop that helps retain soil moisture and improve nutrient-holding capacity.
Compost is arguably an easy homemade plant food and is composed of whatever is put into it.
It’s one of the most versatile, and you can use it as both a mulch or a conditioner for garden soil. Besides, you can even use it as a foliar feed.
Make compost by filling a bucket with non-meat based products and mixing it up. It tends to become alkaline, however, so use it with caution.
6. Shell Meal
Shellfish meal is made from the crushed bones or shells of crabs, shrimp, and/or other shellfish. It contains calcium, phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, and other nutrients.
Another advantage of using shell meal is that it contains chitin which boosts the growth of beneficial organisms.
7. Bat Guano
Bat guano is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is great for transplants, as well as to feed the lawn, houseplants, flowers, and ornamentals.
Use it at any time of the year as a top dressing. Moreover, you can dilute it in a tea and use it as a foliar spray.
8. Fish Bone Meal
Fishbone meal is dehydrated fish bones, containing phosphorus, calcium, and a little bit of nitrogen. It’s great for flowering plants.
9. Egg Shells
Eggshells are rich in calcium carbonate . This means that you can use it as a fertilizer to strengthen the cell walls of your plants.
Eggshells decompose very quickly, but it works even faster if you grind them up.
Tomatoes and peppers will enjoy some eggshells as they are easily affected by calcium deficiency.
10. White Vinegar
Plants that crave an acidic environment, such as roses, hydrangeas, and berries will love you for dowsing them with a vinegar mixture once every three months.
Simply mix a tablespoon of vinegar with a gallon of water.
A low pH can be harmful to plants that thrive in a highly acidic environment. Just be sure to test your soil before you alter the pH levels.
11. Epsom Salt
Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate, which plays an important role in plant growth.
Onions, broccoli, and cabbages will all benefit from the use of it. Besides, peppers, tomatoes, and roses will blossom and grow stronger when fertilized with Epsom salts.
Use it in a solution of 2 tablespoons to one gallon of water to replace depleted levels of magnesium and sulfur in potting soil.
Epsom Salts, like other foliar applications, have the added benefit that their nutrients are absorbed into the soil more quickly than others.
12. Bone Meal
As the name implies, bone meal is finely ground bone that comes from slaughterhouses. Moreover, it is an amazing source of calcium and phosphorus.
As a result, you can use it for bulbs, flowers, and fruiting trees since it helps establish a strong root system.
13. Rock Phosphate
Rock phosphate is mined from rocks, made into a fine powder for easy application and distribution. It contains generous amounts of calcium and phosphate.
Greensand is a popular type of mineral from the seabed. It is heavily rich in glauconite, which means it contains important minerals such as potassium and iron.
15. Alfalfa Meal
Alfalfa meal is normally a major part of livestock diets. However, grinding it up for faster breakdown gives the resulting fertilizer a mixture of magnesium, sulfur, and potassium.
It also contains other vitamins and minerals.
16. Cottonseed Meal
Cottonseed meal contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. As a result, it is great for conditioning soil, improving its structure.
The earlier you use it, the more it breaks down into the soil for better distribution of its elements.
17. Soybean Meal
A slow-release nitrogen fertilizer , soybean meal works depending on local growing conditions. As a result, these factors determine how quickly the soil absorbs it.
It can be anywhere from slow to moderate speed, but it’s great for use as a long-term soil conditioner. Farmers also use it as a source of protein for animal feed.
18. Feather Meal
Feather meal is another slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. For best results, apply it to the soil well in advance.
The earlier you mix it in, the better conditioned the soil will be when it’s time to cultivate.
19. Seabird Guano
This is a unique one gathered from islands that are privy to low rainfall with hot, arid climates.
This type of environment helps the resulting seabird guano retain a high level of phosphorus, with other trace minerals.
This is one of the best ones because if you live near the coast, you can go and pick it up for free. It just washes ashore. You’ll find small amounts of the three main nutrients mixed in, along with magnesium.
These factors make seaweed a great crop fertilizer, or anything requiring higher potassium.
21. Grass Clippings
Another one you can get for free as long as you or someone you know owns a lawnmower, this one helps curb weed growth.
It’s difficult to calculate the amount of nitrogen in each batch, so spread it liberally across the soil for the best effect.
A layer of 1-2 inches should do the trick. Avoid cuttings from herbicide-treated lawns, however, if you have an organic garden.
22. Ag Lime
Agricultural lime is highly effective in balancing PH levels in the garden, especially in highly acidic soil. It is not really a fertilizer, but it helps plants absorb more nutrients from the soil.
It also adds magnesium, which assists in stronger plant growth. Just test your soil first before adding it.
23. Wood Ash
You might not think of this one, but you should. Ash discarded after a wood fire is a great natural fertilizer.
It’s also a great choice for any low acidic gardens and it even helps to keep pests away like slugs and snails.
24. Coffee Grounds
Used coffee ground is a good one because it supplements organic matter to the soil, entices earthworms, and improves aeration and drainage.
It also contains a plethora of nutrients needed for plant health.
Sprinkle your waste coffee grounds (in limited amounts) around the base of your plants. For best results, mix it with other amendments or compost.
25. Green Teas
Everyone knows the benefits of green tea, and soon your garden will, too.
Just mix any trimmed weeds into a bucket of water with green tea and let sit for three days before applying.
People have been using this one in gardening practices for years. However, different molasses types have different nutrient contents.
Blackstrap molasses has the most sulfur, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium and gives plants a power boost when applied.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of dry molasses to 1 gallon of warm water and spray on leaves or pour around roots.
Unsulphured blackstrap molasses can also be added to fertilizer mixes.
You read that right. It’s been proven that urine from a healthy person can be used as a highly clean and beneficial fertilizer.
Urine is 95% water that contains vitamins and minerals. It also contains urea, which is extremely beneficial to growing plants.
If you’re a little squeamish, it’s okay. There are plenty of other healthy plant fertilizers.
Gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined globally. Moreover, it has many uses. When refined, it is an excellent source of calcium and sulfur.
Both these are important elements for improving crop yield and plant growth. It also keeps the soil hydrated and helps prevent erosion.
Azomite is a natural mineral substance that you can use as a soil amendment to improve plant growth and yields. It is from volcanic mineral deposits from a Utah desert source.
As most of these are slow-release, the timing of when you use them is not as important as it is with inorganic fertilizers.
As with all the foods we eat, organic is best, so work hard to nourish your plants as you would nourish your body.