Natural Plant Fertilizer

natural plant fertilizer

Kitchen Scraps That Will Supercharge Your Garden Growth

Don’t toss all that garbage just yet! In this article, we’ll explore some creative ways to repurpose common kitchen and household scraps to create nutrient-rich natural plant fertilizer that will help your garden thrive. Not only are these natural fertilizers great for your plants, but they also reduce waste and encourage a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Here are the best kitchen and garbage scraps for boosting the growth of your plants, flowers, and vegetables.

Fruit & Vegetable Scraps: An Obvious Option for Natural Plant Fertilizer

What To Add To Your Compost

Peels and scraps from fruits and vegetables can be added to a compost pile or bin to break down and become a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be added to your garden beds or containers.

To compost these kitchen scraps, mix them with other compostable materials such as leaves, grass clippings, and yard waste, as well as some soil or finished compost to jumpstart the decomposition process.

good organic material for compost natural plant fertilizer
To the compost with you, my beautiful organic material! Image Ruth Hartnup, flickr

What Not To Add To Your Compost

Make sure to avoid adding any meat, dairy, or oily foods to your compost pile, as these materials can attract unwanted pests and slow down the composting process. Additionally, be sure to chop larger scraps into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition and avoid attracting animals to your compost pile.

Image, Marco Verch, flickr

Gardeners have saved appropriate kitchen scraps for decades by simply keeping a sealed canister near the countertop. A used “Crisco” can, plastic storage container with lid, or gallon “Ziploc” bags work fine. Drop some organic scraps in, and after a while empty the scrap canister in the garden or compost bin/pile. By composting your kitchen scraps, you can reduce waste and create a sustainable source of nutrients for your plants, flowers, and vegetables.

Coffee grounds and tea bags

How do coffee grounds and tea bags help?

Coffee grounds and tea bags are great additions to a compost pile because they contain valuable nutrients that can help enrich the soil. Coffee grounds, for example, are a good source of nitrogen, which any gardener will tell you, is an essential nutrient for plant growth. They also help to increase the acidity of the soil, making it more hospitable to acid-loving plants like tomatoes, blueberries, and rhododendrons.

Similarly, tea bags are also a good source of nutrients, including nitrogen and trace minerals. They can also help to improve soil structure by adding organic matter to the soil, which can improve its ability to hold water and nutrients.

Can I just sprinkle coffee grounds into my garden?

To use coffee grounds and tea bags in your garden, you can simply add them to your compost pile or bin along with other compostable materials. Alternatively, you can sprinkle coffee grounds directly onto the soil around your plants or add them to your potting mix to provide a boost of nutrients.

Just be careful not to overdo it, as too much of a good thing can be harmful to your plants.

coffee grounds and tea leaves or bags can be composted beneficially
Image by Montgomery County, Maryland, flickr

Eggshells as a Natural Plant Fertilizer

How do eggshells benefit my garden?

Eggshells are another kitchen scrap that can be saved and used in the garden to benefit plants as a natural fertilizer. Eggshells are rich in calcium, which is an important nutrient for plant growth and helps to promote strong cell walls, which can improve overall plant health.

Additionally, if you have a problem with snails or slugs in your garden, crushed eggshells can also be used as a barrier around plants to help deter these pests.

used egg shells for natural plant fertilizer compost ingredient
Image Phu Thinh Co, flickr

Once crushed, eggshells can be added directly to the soil around your plants, or they can be added to your compost pile or bin to break down and release their nutrients over time.

crushed egg shells for natural plant fertilizer how to
It’s best to crush eggshells to pieces like this, in order to speed up biodegrading. Image by AnneHelmond, flickr

To use eggshells in the garden

  • after cracking open eggs, rinse them with water to remove any remaining egg white or yolk.
  • allow the eggshells to air dry, and then
  • crush them into small pieces using a mortar and pestle or by placing them in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.

Overall, adding eggshells to your garden is an easy and inexpensive way to provide your plants with a valuable source of needed nutrients.

Cardboard, Newspaper, Used Paper Towels & Napkins

Why use cardboard and newspaper in compost?

Cardboard and newspaper can be useful in the garden as a natural plant fertilizer for a few reasons:

Soil improvement: As the cardboard and newspaper decompose over time, they can add organic matter to the soil and help improve soil structure. This can lead to better drainage and aeration, which can in turn promote healthy plant growth. of calcium and other nutrients that can help promote healthy growth and improve overall plant health.

Weed suppression: By laying down a layer of cardboard (or several layers of newspaper over bare soil,) you can prevent weeds from growing by blocking out the light. This method is often used in a process called “sheet mulching,” where a layer of organic material, such as compost or straw, is placed on top of the cardboard or newspaper to create a new garden bed.

Moisture retention: Both cardboard and newspaper are good at retaining moisture, which can help keep your plants hydrated during dry periods. When used as a mulch around plants, they can also help to suppress weeds and keep the soil cool.

simple cardboard items to use in compost for natural plant fertilizer
These things. Start adding them to your compost / natural plant fertilizer strategy. Image, dothegreenthing, flickr

Can I use regular paper as natural plant fertilizer?

You can save paper towels and napkins for use in the garden. Just like cardboard and newspaper, they can be used as a natural mulch to help retain moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth.

However, it’s important to note that paper towels and napkins are not as sturdy as cardboard or newspaper, so they may break down more quickly in the garden.

Additionally, you should avoid using paper towels and napkins that have been used to clean up chemicals or other hazardous materials, as these can be harmful to your plants.

What kinds of paper cannot be used in compost?

Overall, using cardboard and newspaper in the garden can be a low-cost and effective way to improve soil health, reduce waste, and control weeds. Just make sure to use plain cardboard and newspaper without any glossy coatings or colored ink, as these can contain harmful chemicals that you don’t want in your garden.

Dryer Lint & Hair (Human or Pet)

While saving lint and hair might seem strange, they can actually be useful in the garden and qualify as a natural plant fertilizer!

Here are a few ways you can use them:

Composting: Lint and hair are both high in nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for plant growth. Adding them to your compost pile can help speed up the decomposition process and create a nutrient-rich soil amendment for your plants.

Pest deterrent: Believe it or not, some pests are repelled by the scent of human hair. You can sprinkle hair clippings around the base of plants to help deter pests like deer, rabbits, and rodents.

Seed starting: Lint can be used as a seed starting medium. Simply mix it with some soil or compost and use it to fill seed starting trays. The lint will help retain moisture and provide some additional nutrients to the seedlings as they grow.

While these methods might not be for everyone, saving lint and hair can be a simple way to reduce waste and make use of materials that might otherwise end up in the trash.

Cooked grains, Stale bread and crackers

Saving stale or old bread, crackers, and cooked grains can benefit your garden in a few ways.

First, they can be used as a food source for composting, which can help improve soil health and provide essential nutrients to your plants. Bread, crackers, and grains are rich in carbohydrates and can add valuable organic matter to your compost pile.

Alternatively, you can also use stale bread and crackers as bird feed or scatter them around the garden to attract wildlife such as squirrels and chipmunks. They can also be used to create a barrier around young plants to protect them from slugs and other pests.

However, it’s important to note that while bread, crackers, and cooked grains can be used in the garden, they should be used in moderation. They should also be used in combination with other organic materials, such as yard waste and kitchen scraps. Overusing these materials can attract unwanted pests and lead to imbalances in your compost pile.

Leaves, Grass, and Yard Waste: Natural Plant Fertilizers

Is there a way to reuse grass clippings and yard waste in my garden?

By utilizing grass clippings and yard waste in your garden, you can reduce your waste output and provide valuable nutrients to your plants, improving their overall health and productivity.

Image, ProtopianPickleJar, flickr

How can grass clippings and trimmings be used as a natural plant fertilizer?

Grass clippings and yard waste can be a valuable source of organic matter for your garden, and there are several ways you can use them to benefit your plants.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Composting: Grass clippings and yard waste can be added to a compost pile or bin, where they will break down over time into nutrient-rich compost that can be used to fertilize your plants.
  2. Mulching: Grass clippings and yard waste can be used as a mulch around your plants, which can help to conserve moisture in the soil, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.
  3. Soil amendment: You can also use grass clippings and yard waste to amend your soil, which can help to improve soil structure, increase water retention, and provide nutrients to your plants.
  4. Vermicomposting: Grass clippings and yard waste can also be used to feed worms in a vermicomposting system, which will break down the organic matter into nutrient-rich castings that can be used to fertilize your plants.

It is possible to use a natural plant fertilizer made from yard waste, weed, and grass clippings to water your plants?

Yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Make sure that the brew has had enough time to break down before you use it. The decomposition process can take several weeks to several months, depending on the temperature and other factors, so it’s important to be patient and allow the brew to mature.
  2. Make sure that the brew is properly diluted before you use it. While the nutrients in the brew can be beneficial for your plants, it can also be quite potent, and using it undiluted can burn your plants and cause other problems.
  3. Be aware that using a brew made from yard waste, weed, and grass clippings may introduce weed seeds and other unwanted organisms to your garden. If you’re concerned about this, you may want to use a compost pile or bin instead, as this will help to kill weed seeds and other pathogens through the heating process.

Overall, using a yard waste brew as a natural plant fertilizer to water your plants can be a good way to add nutrients to your garden and reduce waste. Remember, though, it’s important to do so carefully and with an understanding of the potential risks and benefits.

Wrapping It Up

In summary, using kitchen and yard scraps for natural fertilizer is not only sustainable, but it can also benefit your garden. These scraps can save you money, reduce waste, and make your plants healthier.

I probably missed a bunch of trash items you’ve used as fertilizer or mulch! Let me know in the comments!

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After years of denying it, Donald finally admits one passion in life is gardening. More specifically: growing seeds, plants, flowers and edibles and helping them to be the best possible. Neighbors call him a Green Thumb. He lives in Western Washington with his wife of 24+ years and three cats.

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