Free Fertilizers Within Reachcomments (9) April 22nd, 2011
Every year at this time I divert some of the kitchen waste headed for the compost bin to use as fertilizer for my garden. Banana peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells make free fertilizers to give my vegetables and flowers a taste of something homemade instead of artificial.
Using kitchen cast-offs like these help build the soil naturally and work equally well in small container gardens or large vegetable beds. They’re also easy to use—whether you compost or not.
Instead of chopping up banana peels and tossing them in the composter, I cut them into long strips and bury them about 1” under the soil around my roses. The peels make for the perfect slow-release fertilizer and earthworms seem to like them, too.
Used coffee grounds also make a fine free fertilizer. I add the grounds to the garden soil in the vegetable beds and large containers planted with tomatoes and peppers. Coffee grounds can be used to feed flowers, too.
Eggshells make a nice liquid fertilizer tea. Steep the shells in a container of water for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Additional shells can be added during the steeping period. To use, dilute 1 cup of eggshell tea to 1 gallon of water to give plants a boost through the growing season.
Eggshells can also be turned into a powder to sprinkle on the soil around plants. Just let the shells dry thoroughly, crush, and then run them through a food processor or blender until they’re small flakes.
Another free fertilizer comes in the form of the compost that’s been aging over the winter. I hold some of this back each spring to make a compost tea that seems to make stronger seedlings that are more resistant to the fungi that cause damping-off. I take 1 cup well-aged compost and steep it in a bucket with 5 or 6 cups water for several days. When the tea is ready, strain and water seeds right after sowing.
Do you have other suggestions for free (or low-cost) homemade fertilizers? Please share them here.
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posted in: compost, fertilizer, kitchen waste