Gardeners, old and new, know that one thing that plays a significant role in keeping plants healthy is fertile soil. There are some things that you can do to make your soil the perfect place for your plants, like composting. However, most people are not making their compost at home.
Vermicomposting, for instance, is an excellent method of composting. Compared to the other types of composts, the use of certain worms is considered to be more beneficial for plants. The only problem though is that not everyone has the time or resources to make this possible.
This is where fertiliser comes into play. It’s an excellent alternative to compost and does a great job of providing plants with much-needed minerals like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These things can easily be bought from garden stores. However, they can be pretty expensive.
And aside from the cost, most fertilisers also come with the following disadvantages.
- The chemicals found in store-bought fertilisers can disrupt the soil’s symbiotic relationship with microbes.
- Chemical fertilisers can easily overload the soil with nutrients.
- The overuse of fertilisers can negatively affect the environment especially when they leach into the ground. A good example is the ability of excess nitrogen from fertilisers to spur the growth of algae. This results in the depletion of the oxygen supply for fish.
- To make things worse, they’re also dangerous to humans and animals alike when inhaled, ingested, or touched.
If this is the case, does that mean that fertilisers do more harm than good? Not quite.
Homemade DIY fertilisers
In fact, there is one solution — DIY fertilisers. These fertilisers are made of organic materials which provide the same benefits that plants need, minus the adverse effects. The ingredients needed to make them are commonly found around the house. Most of them just end up in the bin or disposed of casually.
Anyone knows what old fashioned easy strike matches are. But very few know that these things can be used as a fertiliser. They contain magnesium which plants need to grow. You can either place the entire match in the hole with the plant or soak the matches in water.
Doing the latter will make application a lot easier. Once the magnesium has dissolved, you can simply spray the water to your plants.
Just as milk is good for the body, it’s also good for plants. The use of milk as fertiliser has been around for generations. Aside from calcium, it also contains beneficial proteins, vitamin B and sugars that are all helpful to plants.
Fresh, evaporated, or even powdered milk can all be used as a fertiliser. You can even use milk that’s already past its due date which is a great way to reduce your home’s carbon footprint. All you have to do is make a 1:1 mixture of milk and water. Put the solution in a spray bottle and apply it to the plant leaves.
Note: don’t use too much milk because the bacteria in it will spoil. This can have unpleasant results such as foul odour and poor growth in plants. Wipe or spray the leaves of the plants with water if you notice that the solution is not being absorbed adequately.
Bananas are one of the most common fruits eaten at home. If you have kids, chances are lots of banana peels get left behind only to be thrown in the bin. However, you can use these leftovers as fertiliser because they contain high amounts of potassium.
If you have a compost, just throw the peels in and follow the normal composting process. Compost is an essential ingredient to produce the perfect garden soil which you need to prepare your flower garden for spring.
But perhaps, the greatest way to use banana peels is by making a ‘tea’ out of them. You’re not the one who’s going to drink it, by the way.
Banana peel tea is made by adding the peels to a mason jar filled with water. Leave it for 48 hours and discard the skins afterwards (but don’t throw them away!). Water your plants using the water that’s left in the jar. Chop the discarded peels and add them to your garden soil directly.
There’s so many things at home that people end up throwing away. The humble egg is one of the most readily available, cheap, and versatile food there is. And since the shells can’t be eaten, there’s no use for them. Wrong!
Eggshells contain about 1% nitrogen, about a half-percent phosphoric acid, and other trace elements that make them a useful fertiliser. At the same time, these things also contain calcium.
The first step to using eggshells as fertiliser is to clean them unless you want them to stink. Once dry, crush the shells using a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle.
The application can be made either by sprinkling them around the garden soil or mixing it with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole.
Used cooking water
The water that’s used to cook vegetables, eggs, and even pasta is always poured down the drain. If you’re reading this, it’s high time you start collecting it instead.
Many different nutrients are released into the water when cooking which plants can make good use of. Just see to it that you don’t water your plants with freshly-boiled water.
Similar to cooking water, the water from aquarium tanks can also be used by plants. If the manure of animals like cows, horses, rabbits, and chickens make great compost, so does fish manure.
Keep in mind though, that only freshwater can be used — salt water is a no-no.
Drinking coffee is an everyday ritual for almost everyone. But did you know that there’s so much more to coffee than keeping you awake or starting your day full of energy?
Plants that thrive well in acidic environments like blueberries, evergreens, azaleas, roses, camellias, avocados, and many fruit trees would appreciate you throwing those coffee grounds on their soil.
That’s because coffee grounds can provide your plants with the acids that they need. Aside from that, they also contain other plant essentials like nitrogen, phosphoric acids, and potassium. How you use coffee grounds in your garden is as simple as sprinkling them on top of the soil before watering.
Note: Make sure the coffee grounds have already dried up before using them. Doing so and using too much of them can cause mould to grow.
Quick trivia: Epsom salt is not a salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate.
Soaking in a tub full of hot water and a few cups of Epsom salts is probably the most common use for it. Another way to use them is for your plants.
Magnesium allows plants to better absorb valuable nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Not only that, but it also aids in the creation of chlorophyll which is important in photosynthesis.
Use a solution of one tablespoon Epsom salts mixed with one gallon of water. Put this into a sprayer and apply as a foliar spray. However, it’s worth having your soil tested first if it’s suffering from magnesium deficiency. If not, adding more magnesium into the soil is not a good idea.
Another thing to consider is the plants that you’re growing. Many plants like beans and leafy vegetables thrive well in soils with low levels of magnesium.
Try your own fertiliser
Making your own DIY fertiliser is much easier than you may have thought. Most of the ingredients will already be in your cupboards!
So next time you boil some pasta, peel a banana, or eat a hard boiled egg, don’t throw away the excess! Instead, use them to give your plants some extra nutrients without having to spend extra money.