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 a farm come from animal wastes — 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. As a result, 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. Therefore, 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.
4. Organic Mulch
Extremely common, mulch is any material placed on the soil surface to cover it. Mulching adds nutrients back to the soil.
Bury bark, newspaper, pine needles, or even grass clippings under a layer of topsoil and let it decompose. However, placing them on top of the soil helps them break down faster because they are exposed to air.
Organic mulches also help retain soil moisture and keep sunlight away.
Compost is arguably an excellent soil amendment for vegetable gardens and is composed of whatever is put into it.
It’s one of the most versatile, and you can use it as a conditioner for garden soil. Besides, you can even compost tea and use it as a foliar feed.
Make compost by filling a bucket with food and yard scraps and mixing it up.
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 helps boost the defense mechanism of plants.
7. Bat Guano
Bat guano is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is great for seedlings, 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 and make tea and use it as a foliar spray. However, use it carefully and according to the package instructions.
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 for your plants. They decompose slowly, but they work faster if you grind them up.
Tomatoes and peppers will enjoy some eggshell fertilizer as tomato plants are easily affected by calcium deficiency.
Simply mix one cup of household vinegar with a gallon of water and use it to water these plants. Give them a dose once every three months.
A low pH can be harmful to plants that thrive in highly acidic soil. Just be sure to test your soil before you alter the pH.
11. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt contains magnesium, which is an important nutrient for plant growth.
Onions, broccoli, and cabbages will all benefit from its use. Besides, peppers, tomatoes, and roses will blossom and grow stronger when fertilized with Epsom salts.
Use it in a solution of 2 tablespoons dissolved in one gallon of water to replace depleted levels of magnesium in the soil.
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.
Therefore, you can use it for bulbs, flowers, and fruiting trees since it helps establish a strong root system.
13. Rock Phosphate
Rock phosphate contains generous amounts of calcium and phosphate. It works great on vegetables, flowers, trees, and shrubs.
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, magnesium, 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 the three key macronutrients.
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 and improving its structure.
The earlier you use it, the quicker 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.
These factors determine how quickly the soil absorbs it; however, 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 serve as homes for seabirds. Seabird guano is good for most indoor and outdoor flowering plants.
Strawberries, melons, and other plants with large blooms love it.
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.
Seaweed contains potassium and small amounts of other nutrients. It is a great crop fertilizer.
21. Grass Clippings
This is another one you can get for free as long as you or someone you know owns a lawnmower. However, avoid cuttings from herbicide-treated lawns.
Grass clippings contain some amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Place the clippings into a bucket of water and allow it to steep for a few days. Afterward, strain and use the solution to water your plants.
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. However, be sure to test your soil before adding it.
23. Wood Ash
You might not think of this one, but you should. Ashes from the fire pit can be used as is a great organic soil amendment.
Plants that benefit from wood ashes include lettuce, parsnips, garlic, chives, carrots, and asparagus. It also helps keep away pests like slugs, snails, and ants.
24. Coffee Grounds
Used coffee grounds help improve soil fertility, entice earthworms, and work great in the compost.
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 and work them in the soil. For best results, mix it with crushed eggshells.
25. Green Teas
Everyone knows the benefits of green tea, and soon your garden will, too.
Just sprinkle it on top of the soil or add green tea leaves into a bucket of water and let it 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.
Combine 2-3 tablespoons of dry molasses with 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 agricultural fertilizer .
Urine is about 95% water and contains nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients are extremely beneficial to growing plants.
If you’re a little squeamish, it’s okay — there are plenty of other healthy plant fertilizers options on this list.
Gypsum 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.