It’s no secret that as gardeners we
all want healthy plants. While healthy soil is vital to this, fertilization
plays a significant role too. But what if you don’t have lots of money to spend
on plant fertilizer? That’s not a problem. There are actually a number of
“fertilizers” that may already be available right at your fingertips – and
they’re all found in the kitchen!
Here are 7 surprising household
fertilizers that you can use in the garden that won’t cost you any extra:
Milk – Got milk? You probably didn’t know that milk isn’t just
good for you but also your plants. In fact, using
milk as fertilizer is an old-time remedy from long ago. It’s a great source
of calcium but also contains beneficial proteins, vitamin B, and sugars that
benefit plants, improving their overall health and yields. You can use fresh or
outdated milk, evaporated milk, or even powdered milk. Just be sure to dilute
it with water, at least 50/50. Use this as a foliar spray or pour around the
base of plants where the roots will gradually absorb the milk. If using
powdered milk, simply sprinkle into the soil and water in.
Gelatin – “Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle…” That’s right, I’m
talking about Jell-O, or more specifically, unflavored gelatin. This is
actually a great fertilizer for houseplants and other foliage plants in the
garden. Why? Gelatin is essentially a form of collagen made from animal bones,
skins, and the like, and is a great source of nitrogen, promoting healthy plant
development and growth. You’ll want to dilute this with plenty of water – one
packet to a quart of water (typically dissolving the package of gelatin in a
cup of hot water, then adding 3 cups of cold water). Pour directly on the soil
around your plants once a month.
Eggshells – Most of us know that calcium builds strong bones, but did
you know that plants benefit from this nutrient too? Eggshells
are loaded with calcium as well as small amounts of nitrogen, phosphoric acid,
and other trace elements. As a fertilizer, this helps increase cell division
and promote stronger, healthier growth. It can also help reduce blossom
end rot in tomatoes. Wash and crush the eggshells (you can even toss in the
blender and grind), and then sprinkle onto your garden soil or add them to your
compost pile. Likewise, you can make your own calcium
fertilizer spray. Fill a gallon jar with water and eggshells, steeping for about
a month. Mix 1 cup of the solution with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle and
use as a foliar spray. Note: You can
also use leftover water from boiling eggs to attain the same results.
water – And speaking of boiling water,
this too (cooled down, of course) can make an excellent fertilizer for garden
plants. Water that’s been used to boil potatoes, vegetables, eggs, and pasta is
actually filled with nutrients, such as phosphorus,
nitrogen, iron, calcium, and others. Now, instead of pouring that useful cooking
water down the drain, allow it to cool off and give your plants a drink. They
will thank you for it with healthier growth. It’s especially beneficial to
houseplants, but any plant can benefit from this low-cost fertilizer.
Coffee – Life wouldn’t be bearable without that morning coffee and
your plants will appreciate it too. Using coffee
grounds as a fertilizer adds organic matter to the soil, improving overall
drainage, water retention and aeration. It also contains about two percent nitrogen.
Coffee grounds are said to be good for acid-loving plants too. Just keep in
mind that this is only true for unwashed coffee grounds – fresh grounds are
acidic while used grounds are nearly neutral. The best way to use your coffee
grounds is to compost them but you can also scatter them on top of the soil
around your plants and water in. And, in addition to adding nutrients, if you’re
wanting to give those acid lovers a boost, don’t toss that leftover coffee. Using
coffee as a fertilizer can increase the acidity of the soil since it has a
pH of 5.2 to 6.9.
Bananas – Bananas are not only healthy for us, but they can benefit
plants too. Bananas are an excellent source of
potassium and great for soil. They can also provide plants with phosphorus. While
some sources say to simply lay the banana peels directly on the soil to leach
nutrients into the ground, it’s usually recommended that banana
peels be composted first, generally cutting them up into smaller pieces
where they can break down quicker. You can, however, forgo the composting and
make a homemade liquid fertilizer instead. Just chop up all some banana peels, put
them in a jar of water, and allow this to sit for about a week or so. Then water
your plants with it, tossing those remaining peels in the compost heap.
Vinegar – Okay, we know that vinegar is great for many things, and in
the garden, it normally makes a good organic herbicide, normally white
vinegar. But what you likely didn’t know is that apple cider vinegar (with 5
percent acidity) can be used as a fertilizer to maintain healthy plants. That’s
right! Just a tablespoon of vinegar (one tablespoon of vinegar to one gallon of
water) can boost a plant’s defense mechanism, helping it fend off insect pests
and microbes. It also accelerates germination and increases yields. Pour the diluted
vinegar/water mixture onto the soil around your plants to help keep them
healthy and happy.
BONUS: Just another helpful FYI for those of you having fish
aquariums (freshwater only, no saltwater). As you’re cleaning out the tank,
don’t toss that water. Instead, use it to give your houseplants some much
needed love. It’s rich in beneficial bacteria, potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen,
and trace nutrients that help promote lush, healthy growth. And the fish waste
makes a great plant fertilizer too.
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