It’s springtime, which means it’s also time to get your hands dirty with yard work. For your plants to grow and your flowers to bloom, you’ll likely need fertilizer. Did you know that you can DIY without using expensive and harsh fertilizers? Homemade fertilizer tends to be cheaper and safer than store-bought brands.
What’s in a healthy plant diet?
Plants, like humans, need a wide variety of nutrients to thrive. They need their non-mineral and mineral nutrients. Also like humans, if you give them too much or too little of a nutrient, they’ll become unhealthy. So, here’s an easy break down of what plants in your yard need. Then, we have fertilizer recipes that you can try at home.
Non-mineral Nutrients: Hydrogen-Oxygen-Carbon
Do you remember learning about photosynthesis? It’s the process of how plants make their food. They take water (H2O) and sunlight to create carbohydrates that they eat. Then, they release oxygen back into the air.
The non-mineral nutrient intake of plants is only impacted by watering and sunlight, not fertilizers. We’re about to talk about all of the mineral nutrients plants also need to thrive which is where fertilizers and how they’re made matters.
The Big Three Macronutrients: Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium
Every plant needs a regular dose of N-P-K to grow. But, the soil usually lacks N-P-K because plants use it all up. All fertilizers must have the N-P-K trio, or there’s no point.
The Small Three Macronutrients: Calcium-Magnesium-Sulfur
The secondary trio of macronutrients doesn’t always need to be added to fertilizer because the soil tends to have sufficient amounts of all three. As long as you don’t routinely throw out decaying plant matter (like dead leaves), your soil should have plenty of sulfur. All you have to do to get magnesium and calcium to the soil is add lime to your fertilizer.
Luckily, plants only need trace amounts of micronutrients. The easiest way to make sure your plants get micronutrients is to recycle organic matter.
Vinegar Fertilizer: Rose Bushes
Combine one tablespoon of white vinegar with one gallon of water.
Water your plants and repeat every three months.
Epsom Salt Fertilizer: tomatoes, potatoes, roses, peppers
Combine one tablespoon of Epsom salt and one gallon of water.
Water your plants with this mixture once a month.
Eggshell Fertilizer: flower beds
After cooking, save your eggshells and set aside to dry.
Once dried, blend shells to a powder consistency.
Sprinkle in your garden every two to three weeks.
Fish Tank Water Fertilizer: all plants
Save the dirty water from your fish tank to reuse to water your plants. The water is packed full of nutrients like nitrogen that is a superfood for plants. Repeat as often as you would like.
Coffee Grind Fertilizer: acid-loving plants (azaleas, roses)
Line a cookie sheet with newspaper and place used coffee grinds on top. Set aside and allow to air dry. Once dried, sprinkle at the roots of plants. Tip: If you call ahead, Starbucks will save you FREE bags of used coffee grounds.