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Homemade Fertilizers

Learn how to make your own fertilizer, and keep your garden green without spending a lot of green.

Here are some homemade fertilizer recipes to try.

Epsom Salt Fertilizer: Use in place of houseplant food, vegetable fertilizer, rose plant food

1 tablespoon Epsom Salt

1 gallon water

Combine the Epsom salt and water and use this solution to water your plants. Repeat once a month.  Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulfate – both vital plant nutrients.  Some magnesium-loving plants to try it on: houseplants, roses, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.

Coffee Ground Fertilizer: Use in place of rose plant food

Used coffee grounds

A cookie sheet


Line a cookie sheet with newspaper.  Then, spread your used coffee grounds out on the sheet, and allow them to dry completely.  Sprinkle the grounds around the base of your acid-loving plants.  Azaleas, roses, rhododendrons and blueberries are just some of the plants that will benefit from this treatment.  Note: Be careful not to overdo it with the grounds.  Even acid-loving plants can get too much acid.  Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, magnesium, and potassium – all important plant nutrients.  They are also acidic, and help to maintain the acidity of the soil.

Egg Shell Fertilizer: Use in place of lime

Egg shells


Save your egg shells and allow them to dry.  Place the dried shells in the blender and pulse until they are powdery-fine.  Sprinkle in your garden. Egg shells are made up of almost entirely calcium carbonate – the main ingredient in agriculture lime.

Vinegar Fertilizer: Use in place of houseplant fertilizer and rose plant food

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 gallon water

Combine the white vinegar and water.  Use the solution to water your plants. Repeat every three months. The acetic acid in vinegar works to increase the acidity of the soil – just the thing for acid loving plants.

Fish Tank Fertilizer: Use in place of any fertilizer

Save the dirty water from your fish tank and use it to water your plants. Used fish tank water is full of nitrogen and other ingredients that plants need to thrive.

Fireplace Ash Fertilizer: Use in place of garden fertilizer and lime

Sprinkle your fireplace ash over your garden beds, and work into the soil. Note: Fireplace ash should not be used if your soil is alkaline, or be used around acid-loving plants.  Fireplace ash is rich in potassium and calcium carbonate.

Other homemade fertilizer suggestions

Fill a five-gallon bucket about 1/3 full with fallen oak leaves, add water almost to the top of the bucket.  Place the bucket in a sunny spot, ideally on a paved surface, and let it steep for about a week or until the water takes on the color of iced tea.  Or, a speedy version of the same recipe: add boiling water to the leaves, and use the solution once it’s cooled.  Pour the leaf “tea” around the base of your plants, and in no time they will perk up.  The leftover oak leaves make dandy mulch, especially when shredded first.

You can use leftover coffee to water your plants, but make sure to dilute it first by making a solution of 1 part coffee and 4 parts water.  Use the solution on plants once every other week.  If the coffee is weak to begin with, use 1 part coffee to 2 parts coffee.

Vinegar is also great for giving houseplants a boost.  A simple solution of 1 tablespoon apple vinegar to 1 gallon of water will help houseplants green up, especially if the tap water is alkaline.  Vinegar does more than lower the pH; it’s loaded with as many as 50 trace minerals.

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