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Jul 16, 2011 01:22 PM

Homemade Fertilizers

Hello Gardeners!

I am searching for effective homemade fertilizers. I have heard that vinegar, eggshells, epsom salt, coffee grounds, vinegar, urine!!!, and old fish tank water are all ingredients which can be formulated into fertilizers. Can anyone help me with the details of making and using these and other readily available "commodities" to fertilize my garden????

Thank You In Advance,
Valentine :)

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  1. Eggshells are a good source of calcium--some folks crush up eggshells and put them in the hole when they plant tomatoes, to help with blossom end rot.

    Vinegar is a mild herbicide, not a fertilizer. Epsom salts is magnesium, and you can put a spoonful around each plant as you put them into the ground.

    I have a galvanized stock tank with goldfish--I water my containers with that water all the time--it is full of nutrients (aka goldfish poo).

    Urine--source of nitrogen.

    A compost heap is the best way to improve your soil.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sparrowgrass

      Thank you for the info, sparrowgrass! I know that I should be composting, but I am a little bit nervous about doing that... Composting just seems like it would be for a much more advanced gardener!!! :) I will definitley have to do more research on composting.

      I am a beginner gardener, although I do have some exposure from my grandmother and father, who always had me help them in their gardens while I was growing up. This year, I went all out, and I am growing a gigantic vertical garden of my own for my little family of three. I have radishes, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, muskmelon, blueberries, parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. I hope that all my hard work id going to pay off! :)

      1. re: Valentine529

        Compost first. Making your own fertilizer requires much more knowledge of chemistry among other things.

        1. re: Eldon Kreider

          Yes, you are probably right about that, Eldon!

          Luckily, I have a basic knowledge of organic chemistry from my pre-dental school days!!! I was not even considering that the response to my question could actually be so complicated.... I was just hoping that I would be able to, for example, add some puveried eggshells to my bell peppers, since this plant is supposed to love Calcium!

          I have a feeling that I am going to be learning A LOT from all the responses to my inquiry . which is

        2. re: Valentine529

          Worm composting should work great for you. Use wait drains out of the worm bin as "compost tea". The worms work much more quickly than traditional composting methods. (I don't turn my traditional heap often enough.)

          1. re: dfrostnh

            Thank you, dfrostnh! You have given me such great advice for several of my postings! You must be a master gardener!

            I am going to have to google information on worm composting because I have absolutely no idea whatsoever about that!!! Do I use earthworms??? Do I need a apecial container??? Do the worms need anything special to live beside the compost??? I have so many questions....I will google that right now!!!

            Worm bin??? Compost tea??? I need to google it all!!! I REALLY feel like a novice now! I have so much to learn about gardening!!!

            Please send more advice for me if you think of anything! I really appreciate your gui

            1. re: Valentine529

              Google will be a good help. I use a large plastic tote purchased on sale at Target. Cut a rectangle from the center of the lid for air. Duct tape screening to prevent escapees. Drill holes in the bottom for drainage but place them so you can have a container underneath to catch the worm tea. This means you will need to set the tote on top of something like bricks or pieces of 2x4s so the drip container will fit underneath.

              Red wigglers are good compost worms. I purchased mine at a farmers market.

              You start off with shredded paper and some dirt and some kitchen scraps. Keep the scraps covered so they don't smell. The more you feed them, the quicker they reproduce. In summer I put more scraps in outdoor compost pile and feed the worms less. Make sure they are not in a location that gets hot. Mine is in the cellar. I keep some cheap plastic garden tools to dig compost for a new garbage hole each time. It's very sticky because I add a wet coffee grinds.

              Best wishes!

      2. Valentine, your local Extension office is a great source of info for gardening questions. Google 'Extension, your state, your county' to find the office. I work for Extension in Missouri--and I am a Master Gardener, having completed the series of classes that Extension offers.

        Be warned that Extension info does lean heavily towards chemical controls and fertilizers--we are latecomers to the organic way.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sparrowgrass

          good suggestion, sparrowgrass. She should also check into a local chapter of NOFA.

        2. I've been doing organic gardening, with a quarter acre kitchen garden, for 20 years. The best single resource I've found on the science of composting and making your own complete organic fertilzer (COF) -- developed to maximize nutrients in the vegetables & fruits, is "Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times" by Steve Solomon. Not all compost is created equal -- some can actually set your soil back. The COF "recipe" uses seedmeal (I use cottonseed meal), ag lime, dolomitic limestone, gypsum, rock phosphate, and bloodmeal or kelpmeal. A link to the recipe is