When I first started gardening, I thought that using industrial fertilizer might be the best thing for my plants. I didn’t think about the various chemicals used in the vegetable garden fertilizer making.
It also didn’t cross my mind that I could transform household trash into important nutrients for my veggies. However, after years of study and vegetable gardening experience, I can say that making your own vegetable garden fertilizer at home is not only a good idea but a money-saving solution for growing organic crops.
Homemade fertilizer can be solid or liquid. They have different uses and in most cases, it is advisable to make both. Read on to find out how!
How To Make Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer
Organic fertilizer, also known as compost, is one of the most popular and easy to make vegetable garden fertilizers. It has numerous benefits and all plants can get from it various nutritive substances. On the market, there are various types of organic fertilizer, yet it is really easy to make it with household trash, leftovers and animal mess.
Organic fertilizer is essentially a compound made of organic substances, such as fruit skins, animals mess or blood, bones, seeds, and mulch, to name just a few. In nature, microorganisms consume these materials and the digestion process releases inorganic substances such as potassium, nitrogen, or phosphorus, minerals necessary for the healthy development of the vegetables.
Depending on the organic elements used to make it, this type of fertilizer can have various visual characteristics. However, as a general rule, it has a dark color and an aspect similar to the soil. In many ways, organic fertilizer resembles the potting soil bought from the nursery and has a particular smell of dry leaves.
The fertilizer is also porous and rich in nutrients. In many cases, it is enough to use organic fertilizer in the vegetable garden, without adding any type of industrial fertilizer to the soil.
Benefits Of The Organic Fertilizer
As it is easy to imagine, the main benefit is the supply of nutrients to plants. Depending on the raw material used to make it, the fertilizer will have a variable composition; nevertheless, in most cases, it is suitable for all types of plants.
In many ways, organic fertilizer is similar to manure, yet many gardeners consider it a better option.
Organic fertilizer has numerous other benefits. One of the most important is the production ease. In fact, to make organic fertilizer you’ll only need kitchen refuse and other organic trash including cardboard and paper.
Another great advantage of making organic vegetable garden fertilizer is the total control on its composition. You will know exactly what you’ve put into it and will be able to make an estimate of what you’ll obtain.
For example, if your plants need more potassium, you can use a greater amount of wood ash when making the compound.
The use of organic fertilizer is also good for the soil. In fact, its action will not alter significantly the properties of the soil but it will improve it for a limited time. Unlike the chemical fertilizers, the substances present in the homemade organic fertilizer are released gradually and will not overwhelm your veggies.
The last advantage of making organic fertilizer is the economic aspect. You will be able to save important amounts by simply transforming your trash into nutrient fertilizer for your plants.
How To Make Organic Fertilizer
When I first made organic fertilizer I was surprised by how easy it can be made. You can use numerous types of waste, preferably vegetal in nature, but also some elements coming from animals such as meat, blood, feathers, and more.
According to the provenience of the raw materials, we can classify the “ingredients” of the organic fertilizer as kitchen waste and garden waste.
You can use kitchen waste such as:
- checkRotten fruits
- checkFruit skins
- checkEgg shells
- checkCoffee grounds
- checkFruit shells
- checkFruit stones
- checkCooked vegetable or fruits
- checkPure cellulose paper towels
Garden waste is also an exceptional source for organic fertilizer production, and you can use:
- checkPruning residues
- checkDry branches
- checkGrass clippings
- checkWood ash
- checkDry leaves
- checkDried flowers
- checkDried or rotten vegetables
All these organic elements decompose and create phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. However, depending on what elements prevail, your fertilizer will have different mineral concentrations and also different micro elements.
When making organic fertilizer it is important to avoid using a nondegradable material such as plastic, wraps, tires, or anything else that might compromise the quality of your final product. Although organic in nature, it is advisable to avo-id the use of diapers, baby wipes, and other similar household waste.
Meat, blood, bones, feathers, and animal fur can be added to organic fertilizer, although I strongly suggest to avoid it. Although all these elements are a source of nutrients, the decomposition of these elements is less hygienic and may pose various health risks.
To transform all this waste in organic fertilizer you need to simply gather it in a plastic or wooden box, usually called composter. In essence, you can use any type of container paying attention to choosing a container with a lid. The smell of decomposing vegetables is not exactly a perfume.
I’d suggest placing the container in a remote corner of your garden and before adding waste to it, fill it with a thin layer of garden soil. If you don’t know what nutrients your plants need, use balanced proportions of all the elements listed above.
Made in this way, your fertilizer will be ready to use after about six months. If you keep adding new waste to the container on a regular basis, try to use the fertilizer from the bottom of the container first, as this will give new waste enough time to transform into fertilizer.
How To Use Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer
Organic fertilizer can be distributed on all plants. Moreover, it can be used either in your garden or to fertilize potted plants.
To use it, sprinkle a generous layer of fertilizer directly on the soil, around the plants. Water will transfer the nutrients from the fertilizer to the ground and they will eventually reach the roots of your veggies.
How To Make Liquid Vegetable Garden Fertilizer
A liquid fertilizer worthy of this name must contain at least three essential elements, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. All vegetables need these nutrients in various concentrations, as well as several other elements that are known as micronutrients.
However, you should still remember that each plant has different nutritional needs and these needs can change dramatically during the different phases of their growth, such as blossoming and when growing fruits.
Let’s have a brief look at the role of each macronutrient.
- checkNitrogen favors the development of the stems, leaves, and branches. A lack of nitrogen results in stunted growth and other various vegetal malnutrition symptoms easily identifiable by expert gardeners. However, an excess of nitrogen also has a negative impact on the development of the plant. In fact, too much nitrogen delays blossoming and lower the yield.
- checkPhosphorus is an element that is never found in its pure form in nature. In fact, phosphorus combines easily with oxygen and it forms the phosphorus anhydride, an element with a vital role in fruit formation and also in the development of the tissues of the plant. Its deficiency leads to stunted fruit production and overall depreciation of the plant.
- checkPotassium favors the absorption of the other elements and micronutrients, and its deficiency has negative effects on the foliage, with consequences on the overall health of the plant.
Benefits Of The Liquid Fertilizer
To understand the benefits of the liquid fertilizers, we must first understand how they are different compared to the solid ones.
Solid fertilizers have various natures. We can talk about compost, organic fertilizer made with vegetable waste, animal litter, ox blood, bird mess, and even industrial granular fertilizer.
All these fertilizers have a common characteristic, namely, they have a high content of organic matter and most of this matter produces vegetable macro nutrients that are specific for certain deficiencies. Their main feature, besides providing useful nutrients to the plants, is that they can become a good soil modifier, depending on their composition.
For example, most types of solid fertilizers can be used to lighten a very compact soil, at least at a superficial level. Their presence can also promote the development of certain microorganisms that can eventually enrich the nutritional characteristics of your garden’s soil.
However, their effectiveness is not always immediate and, depending on their structural composition, moisture level and fermentation degree that occurs within solid matter, nutrients may be more or less available for absorption.
In essence, if we apply a certain quantity of manure or generic compost to the ground, the nutrients will be absorbed gradually and will reach the roots of the plants after a certain amount of time. This time varies according to the parameters reminded above.
As such, solid fertilizer can be a good solution in many cases, but it is never an immediate solution. As I highlighted above, the deficiencies of macro nutrients have immediate effects on the plants and in most cases, gardeners are looking for immediate solutions to fix these situations.
And here comes into the scene the liquid fertilizer.
The liquid fertilizer, thanks to its composition, has a great advantage over all solid types. It contains all the nutrients in a dissolved form that is ready for immediate absorption by the plant. Without a doubt, this is a huge advantage and often, especially when the plants present the symptoms of nutritional deficiency, liquid fertilizer is seen as a sort of treatment.
In fact, nutritional deficiencies usually lead to a quick depletion of the plant and the application of liquid fertilizer to the soil or directly on the foliage can favor a rapid recovery, a recovery that wouldn’t be possible with the use of solid fertilizer.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that liquid fertilizer is some sort of magic potion ready to fix all the problems of your plants. In all cases, it is necessary to evaluate carefully the pathologies of your plants, as many symptoms induced by various types of parasites, bacteria, viruses, and insects are similar to the ones produced by nutritional deficiencies.
The use of liquid fertilizers is not limited to this purpose, in fact, they can be administered in a targeted manner. This means that it is possible to make a solution composed only of certain elements and that can be used as nutrient only for certain type of plants.
Another huge benefit of the liquid fertilizer over the solid type is the fact that it can be applied directly to the ground. The fertilizer will penetrate the soil with ease and there is no need to make anything to facilitate its absorption. The liquid rich in nutrients will flow to the roots of the plants and it will be immediately available.
If all these benefits convinced you, let’s see how to make your own liquid fertilizer at home.
How To Make Liquid Fertilizer
In many ways, liquid fertilizer is easier to make compared to the organic fertilizer. Moreover, you can decide its composition by simply selecting a certain type of materials over the others.
You can use a wide range of waste or vegetal materials to make liquid fertilizer. Here are a few materials you can use:
- checkFruit skin and stones;
- checkRotten fruits;
- checkRotten vegetables;
- checkExpired wheat flour;
- checkStale bread;
- checkCoffee grounds;
- checkVegetable skins.
These items are easy to find in any kitchen and they are the base of the macerate. To make liquid fertilizer, the first step is to shred and crush these materials as much as possible. In this way, once immersed in water, they will release nutrients with more ease.
The simplest way to shred this type of waste is with the help of a blender. Alternatively, you can buy a compost shredder. This tool allows shredding much more than kitchen waste and you can use it to add small branches, mulch, straws and other solid elements to your mixture.
Besides the kitchen waste, another great material to use for the liquid fertilizer is cow or horse manure. Manure is rich in urea and is a great source of nitrogen, an element all plants need. Alternatively, you can use compost or organic fertilizer for the macerate, and transform these types of solid fertilizers into liquid.
Once you’ve put together all the materials, it is time to add water. The ratio between the solid matter and water should be 1:10, which means that you should use 10 liters of water for each kilogram of solid matter. Next, you’ll have to stabilize the pH of the solution, by adding one or two tablespoons of baking soda.
Seal the barrel or bucket with a cover and leave it to macerate for one or two weeks. After this period, filter the coarse substance into a clean bucket using a fine mesh.
Alternatively, you can use a cotton bag and gather all solid matter in it, before adding the water for the macerate. In this way, when the liquid fertilizer is ready, you will only have to remove the bag of solid matter and keep the clean liquid.
At this stage you can pour the fertilizer into a sprinkler or watering can and use it either for potted plants or in the garden.
Regarding the solid matter removed from the liquid fertilizer, you can use it to make organic fertilizer. In fact, this macerated matter is a great nutrient for the micro fauna responsible to transform solid waste into compost.
Either you’re fond of the solid organic fertilizer or an adept of the liquid type, you can now make both by simply reusing kitchen and garden waste.
Of course, there are numerous ready-to-use solutions available on the market. In many cases, these solutions are more convenient. Yet, nothing compares to making your own, one hundred percent home-made vegetable garden fertilizer.
If you’re a true gardener, you have to give it a try!