What can I reuse/recycle to make plant/vegetable fertilisers?

So how is your garden/allotment/window box doing this summer?

Due to a combination of a underestimation of seed germination rates, disorganisation/ignoring plans and demon slugs, my growing hasn’t gone quite as I thought it might but we’re doing ok and I’ve learned a lot about growing here.

One thing definitely on my list for next year – well, technically later this year – is to give my beds a good old fashioned manure boost in late autumn. The soil here is very poor but since I reclaimed the beds from the weeds in early spring, I couldn’t do a manure feed this year and I think our output has suffered as a result. I’ve been feeding the seedlings/growing plants since then but I think better soil to start with would have helped overall. Ah well, live and learn.

Anyway, homemade plant/vegetable fertilisers. I’m sure everyone reading this has a bulging compost heap for general compost goodness (if not, start one today!) but I thought it might be interesting to hear what kitchen scraps/plants/garden waste/household waste people use for specific fertilising/feeding plants at this time of year.

I’ve been making/using a lot of liquid fertiliser from nettles this year because we have so many in the field next door to our house. Coffee grinds are also popular as a mid-season fertiliser, as are potash and bonemeal.

What are your favourite produced-at-home fertilizers? Do you have any tips for particular plants?

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7 Responses to “What can I reuse/recycle to make plant/vegetable fertilisers?”


  1. Victoria says:

    I use old teabags to help fertilize my plants. All you do is get your old teabags and add them into some water, they really benefit from the tea.

  2. Bobbie says:

    If you make your own juice with a juicer use the leftover pulp as fertilizer.

  3. Cipollina says:

    I use all kinds of weed – lists of what nutrients various weeds contain can be found on the www – but mostly yarrow, nettles, common horsetail (when it’s green), and comfrey in various combinations. These can be fermented over a couple of weeks or made as an infusion (cut/shredded and boiled with some water, left overnight, drained and diluted)

    I also use urine for nitrogen boosts, and am planning to build a compost loo (I think I have mentioned this before) as soon as I have finished building my pallet kitchen.

  4. anna says:

    Here some more ideas:

    Used coffee grounds. Don’t need composting, just give it to the plants. You can dry it first if you like. Also the rinsing water from your coffee machine (depending on the type of course)
    Any expired coffee, tea, or herbs (expired as in no flavor left)
    Used tea (loose or bags)
    Urine (as general use, 1 part that and 5-10 parts water. For nutrient loving plants like any citrus or pineapples or coffee, you can go even 1/5 or occasional 1/3, or for a full grown lemon or orange tree, 1)
    Totally black bananas (beyond eating them black) – feed your tomatoes
    Human hair, beard, pet fur etc – chop to tinier pieces if needed, bury deep around the plants. They will provide nutrition for months
    Same for eggshells – break to tiny pieces for plants loving calcium

    As you have a bigger area to cover, perhaps asking for coffee grounds by bag at a coffee shop or used hair at a hairdresser or a barber could be a good idea.

  5. Alice says:

    I’ve heard that raspberries particularly like the keratin in hair, pet fur etc.

    I’ve tried to use old woolen gloves before too, but they had elastane in them which was horrible when the wool rotted down. Most 100% wool jumpers would probably be ok though.

  6. Rob says:

    Consider what plants you want to grow in your soil. What pH is needed by those plants? Use a simple testing kit to test your soil to find out if you need a boost of acid or alkaline matter, then compost with the appropriate items (e.g. citrus vs. coffee grounds). This way you’ll be creating soil that will match the needs of the plant(s) you intend to grow, and you’ll most likely end up with healthier plants and a stronger harvest.

    For fertilizer, if you have pet rabbits save a bag of the bunny poops and used hay, etc for the compost. Bunny poops are the only animal waste that is relatively safe to use almost immediately in the garden without risk of nitrogen burn to plants. I’ve used this successfully for years, and it prevents you from using commercial fertilizers with all the hormones and other chemicals that are normally found in commercial animal waste. Who wants all those cow hormones in their vegetables?

  7. liz says:

    For that manure boost during growing season, use manure tea. In a 5 gallon bucket, fill with 1/4 well rotted manure and 3/4 water. Let set about a week and stir every day. Pour around the plants when you water them. Liguid fertilizer.



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