8 Ways to Make Your Own Fertilizer and Save a Ton of Money

Updated on April 23, 2019
StreamandField profile image

I like to write about DIY gardening and general homesteading tips. I hope to provide readers with ideas and inspiration.

Why Should You Make Your Own Fertilizer?

I can only really think of two reasons why anybody would want to make their own fertilizer. They are good enough reasons though. This is why everybody should make their own fertilizer:

  1. Buying those jugs, boxes, and bags from your big box store or your garden store gets expensive. This is especially true if you have a big garden. Most homemade fertilizers are made from things that have already been purchased for another purpose. Making fertilizer out of them stretches the amount of money invested by giving them a second life. This brings us to the other reason.
  2. Most homemade fertilizers are made from recycled, organic materials. Instead of getting shipped off to a landfill or dumped down the drain, these materials are prepared in a way that makes their nutrients available to plants quickly and easily.

These eight DIY fertilizers are no different. Making them is virtually free, and the only special tools that you will need are a blender, an old pair of jeans or t-shirt, and a microwave.

Fish Tank Fertilizer

Making fertilizer for your garden from fish tank water requires no work from you at all. The fish have already made it for you. All you have to do is set the water aside when you change out your tank or bowl and use it to water your plants. It's that easy.

Why Does It Work?

There are others, but the main nutrient that your plants are getting from the fish water is nitrogen. This is a good fertilizer for all plants, but it is especially good for spinach, lettuce, and other salad greens because nitrogen promotes healthy green growth.

Your fish tank water can also be used as a base for other fertilizers on this list to make a more all-purpose fertilizer.

Weed Fertilizer

Making your own weed fertilizer for your garden is completely free. All you need to do is fill a container with weeds. (I use five-gallon buckets.) Then you fill the container with water and let it sit for a couple of weeks. Strain the water through an old t-shirt into your watering vessel and water your plants. Be prepared though. It will stink.

Why Does It Work?

When plants break down in nature, they decompose and their nutrients go back into the Earth to nourish other plants. By covering them with water you are letting them release their nutrients into the water. Then you use it to nourish your plants.

Weed fertilizer also makes a great base to mix with other fertilizers on the list for your own all-purpose fertilizer.

Banana Peel Fertilizer

To make a quick and easy banana peel fertilizer you will need a microwave and a blender. Heat the peels in the microwave at 30 to 45-second intervals until they are dehydrated. To check them carefully take one out and flex it. If it still flexes it isn't done. If it snaps it's ready. Then all you have to do is pulse the dried banana peels into powder and apply it to the soil around your plants as a top dressing or mix it in some water and use it for liquid fertilizer.

Why Does It Work?

Banana peels are a good source of potassium. Potassium plays a role in everything from plant reproduction to boosting natural disease and pest resistance.

Eggshell Fertilizer

To start making your eggshell fertilizer rinse the shells under running water to remove any egg residue that could scramble in the microwave. Then microwave about six shells at a time for one minute to dehydrate them. Then they are ready to be pulsed into a powder for top dressing around plants, or mixed with water to make liquid fertilizer.

Why Does It Work?

Eggshells are rich in calcium and phosphorous, which promote strong cell and root growth. Eggshell fertilizer is especially good for root vegetables and tubers.

Epsom Salts

Epsom salts can be used as a solid fertilizer by mixing small handfuls in the dirt in planting holes or furrows. They can also be used as a top dressing by sprinkling a ring around the base of each plant. (Take care to keep at least four inches between an Epsom salt top dressing and the stalks of your plants though to prevent burning them.) A liquid Epsom salt fertilizer can also be made by dissolving one tablespoon per gallon in water and feeding your plants that way.

Why Does It Work?

Epsom salt is a pure mineral compound of magnesium sulfate which is good for fruit and flower production. It makes an especially good fertilizer for tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

Ash Fertilizer

Wood or coal ash from a furnace, stove or fireplace are better applied to garden beds prior to planting to be used as fertilizer. Apply a two-inch layer of ash to the top of the bed and work it in with a rake, cultivator, or shovel. Then just plant your garden as you normally would and the fertilizer is already there and available to the plants.

Why Does It Work?

Calcium carbonate and potassium are the biggest elements found in ash that are beneficial to your plants. Plants that have calcium and potassium available will also have an easier time taking in other nutrients and water that they need.

Ash also makes a good replacement for garden lime to reduce the acidity levels in the soil. Just be careful not to use it around acid-loving plants, or in a soil that is already alkaline.

Coffee Ground and Leftover Coffee Fertilizer

After the coffee has been made and it's time to clean out the grounds do not throw them away. Use the coffee grounds as a top dressing by piling them around your plants. The grounds can also be used as a liquid fertilizer by tying the filter closed around the grounds and re-steeping them by dropping them in a gallon of water for an hour or so. Then just water your plants with it.

Fertilizer can also be made from leftover coffee too. Dump whats left in the pot into your watering can and fill it the rest of the way up with water and it's ready to be used to feed your plants.

Why Does It Work?

Coffee grounds are an excellent source of nitrogen. ALL plants need nitrogen.

Compost and Compost Tea Fertilizer

Unfinished or finished compost can be added as a side dressing or mulch around your plants to be used as a solid fertilizer. To make compost tea, a liquid fertilizer, wrap a few handfuls or a shovel full of compost up in an old shirt or rag and tie it shut. Steep the compost bundle in a five-gallon bucket for three or four days and remove the bundle. The liquid that is left is called compost tea and plants love it.

Why Does It Work?

Almost every nutrient that a plant could need for its season or lifetime can be found in compost. Mulching and top dressing with compost will provide the added benefit of suppressing weeds while nourishing plants. And aside from being used to water traditionally at the soil level, compost tea makes a great spray for foliage so it can be taken in by the leaves as well.

Get Out and Grow Some

I know that the eight methods of making your own fertilizer will fit your budget. I also know that they all work because I use them myself every season. I hope that you are willing to give them a try either so they can start working for you, or to try to prove me wrong. But either way I hope I have inspired you to get out and grow some.


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    • StreamandField profile imageAUTHOR


      20 months ago from Indiana, PA

      No problem. Thank you!

    • dredcuan profile image

      Travel Chef 

      20 months ago from Manila

      I started planting different vegetables in our backyard. Moreover, I always eat eggs for breakfast so I think it's a good thing to use it for my plants. Thank you for sharing this.


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