Fertilizing your garden is one of the best things you can do for it.
Proper fertilizing leads to bigger blooms, more abundant harvests, and overall happier plants.
But good-quality fertilizer can be expensive.
Luckily for you, I’m here to teach you how to make the perfect garden fertilizer from materials you already have!
Kitchen waste is something we all deal with, no matter how hard we try to eat everything before it goes bad. This is especially true when it comes to plant products.
There really aren’t any fruits or vegetables around where you eat the entire thing–apples have cores, bananas have peels, etc. So what to do with those extra plant products?
Fertilizer, of course! It’s simple, efficient, and a great cost-saver. It’s also good for the environment, and who doesn’t love that? Keep reading to find out more about how to make your very own garden fertilizer from kitchen waste!
In this Guide You’ll Learn:
- Why you should make your own garden fertilizer
- How to make your own garden fertilizer
- The best ingredients for your garden fertilizer
- And so much more!
What Are The Benefits Making Your Own Fertilizer?
There are a lot of benefits to making your own fertilizer from kitchen waste. By making your own fertilizer, you’re helping your garden, your wallet, and the planet. That’s a win-win-win right there. Below are a few of the many benefits of making fertilizer from your kitchen scraps.
It’s Good For Your Wallet
I don’t know about you, but if I can avoid paying for something I can feasibly do myself, I will absolutely give it a shot. Making your own fertilizer is super easy, usually organic, and you don’t have to pay more than a few bucks to get started.
Instead of paying for great fertilizer, which can really start to break the bank if you have a lot of plants, you can make your own for the simple cost of a compost bin. That’s it–the rest of the materials, you already have!
Oh, and in case you were wondering, gardening as a whole is economically profitable (as long as you do it right). In fact, the average savings when growing your own food is over $400 a season, although it does depend on where you live and how much you’re growing.
If you’d like to know more about the economic impact of gardening this research-based article is right for you.
Read More >> What is the right fertilizer for your Orange Trees?
You Control Exactly What Goes Into Your Fertilizer
This one’s kind of a given: if you make your own fertilizer, you can control exactly what goes in it. Don’t want to use grass cuttings that have been treated with inorganic fertilizers? Don’t need to! You can make organic fertilizer this way, by adding all your own ingredients without added pesticides or chemicals.
It’s also perfect for regulating the nutrients your plants get. If you know your garden tends to need extra nitrogen, you can pump it up with coffee grounds and vegetable waste.
If your plants are calcium-deficient, add extra eggshells.
By making your own fertilizer, you can tailor it perfectly to the needs of your garden.
It’s Good For the Planet
Find me a gardener who doesn’t care at least a little about the environment and I will find you Bigfoot. It’s theoretically possible, but very unlikely.
Up to 25% of waste destined for landfills comes from our kitchens and gardens.
By using our kitchen scraps for our gardens, we both eliminate the need for store-bought fertilizers (thus reducing plastic waste) and keep food waste out of landfills. Truly a win-win for us and the planet.
Oh, and our gardens, too, since the organic nutrients from kitchen waste is as good as, if not better than, just about every fertilizer you could find in a garden center.
Read More >> Best Fertilizers for Blueberries
What Do You Need To Know About Making Fertilizer From Kitchen Waste?
There are a few things you need to consider if you’re thinking about making garden fertilizer from kitchen waste. You should think about the space you have available, how much kitchen waste you produce, and different methods of using it in your garden.
Keep reading to learn more about what you should keep in mind when thinking about making your own garden fertilizer.
How Can You Use Kitchen Waste In Your Garden?
There are pretty much two ways you can go about using kitchen scraps in your garden.
Option A is to simply dig a hole near the roots of your plant, toss your scraps in there, and cover it back up. This works especially well for individual plants that are deficient in a particular nutrient. For example, if you have a potted tomato plant that needs more nitrogen, scoop some coffee grounds into the soil and you’re all set. This isn’t the best option for large swaths of garden, however, as it’s pretty tedious and time-consuming.
Option B is the one that most gardeners prefer: composting. It’s admittedly more complicated than shoveling some coffee grounds onto your plants, but it’s worth it. Composting is great for when you have a larger garden to fertilize, as you make it in batches.
Composting, simply put, is mixing green and brown matter (definitions to come) until it all decomposes and make what many gardeners like to call “black gold.” Green matter is composed of things like lawn trimmings, weeds that you pulled up, and (you guessed it) kitchen scraps! Brown matter is stuff like cardboard, paper towel rolls, paper towels themselves, etc.
For the sake of this article, we’ll mostly be discussing composting, since it requires more steps and materials.
The YouTube video below is super helpful and informative in regards to composting, but don’t worry–I’ve still got plenty of tips and tricks for you.
How Much Kitchen Waste Do You Produce?
This question ties into my previous point on the different methods of using kitchen waste as fertilizer. Do you live in a family of four who eat predominantly fruits and vegetables, or are you a carnivore who lives alone?
Probably neither, but considering your living situation is important when deciding how to use your kitchen scraps.
Ideally, compost is 50/50 green and brown matter. If you don’t produce enough kitchen scraps, but have tons of brown matter, composting may not be for you. Similarly, if you don’t use a lot of paper products but do eat lots of fruits and vegetables, your compost ratio may still be off.
Finding a balance is key for a good, nutritious compost. Go with your gut—if you don’t think a compost pile is right for you, then you can simply plant your kitchen waste near your plants and watch the magic happen that way.
Read More >> Which fertilizers to use for Raspberries?
How Much Space Do You Have?
Again, this question really ties into my previous two.
Composting is only an option if you have a backyard—believe me, you do not want to try keeping a compost bin in your house. All that wonderful, biological magic really does stink. Keeping it on your balcony in an apartment isn’t all that great, either.
If you’re a city dweller with a balcony garden, or simply don’t want to mess up the aesthetic of your backyard paradise, composting probably isn’t the method for you. Nothing wrong with planting your kitchen waste directly into the soil—it still works wonders!
What Do I Need to Make Fertilizer From Kitchen Waste?
For those of you who are planning to bury their kitchen waste in the soil next to their plants—congratulations! All you need is kitchen scraps (stay tuned for a list of the best kitchen scraps for your garden) and a shovel.
For everyone who wants to try their hand at composting, things are a little more complicated.
You’ll need that green and brown matter that we talked about earlier, a shovel (a pretty big one), and a composting bin. Composting bins come and all shapes and sizes, and there’s one to suit virtually every gardener’s needs.
This article about different types of composting bins details the six most popular styles and will help you pick the right one for you.
Tips For Using Kitchen Waste To Fertilize Your Garden
So now you know the basics of using kitchen waste as garden fertilizer, but to become a real expert, check out these awesome tips and tricks for making the best fertilizer possible.
The Best Kitchen Scraps For Your Garden
While kitchen waste is a common occurrence, not all kitchen scraps are created equal. When deciding what to use for fertilizer, avoid the following: meat, dairy, grains, and oils.
The best, most nutrient-packed kitchen scraps for your garden include fruit and vegetable trimmings (especially banana peels), coffee grounds, and washed eggshells.
Fertilizers contain three key elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
In regards to store-bought fertilizer, you’ll see the composition of these elements as a series of three numbers (for example, 10-10-10). When making your own, of course, you should make sure you include these three elements via your kitchen scraps.
Coffee grounds in particular are high in nitrogen, as are most fruit-and-veggie peels. Banana peels, avocados, and beans contain rich amounts of potassium. Including phosphorus in your home-made fertilizer is a bit trickier, but most fruit-and-vegetable scraps contain a fair amount.
Don’t stress too much about getting the right ratio–this is just something to keep in mind!
How To Maximize Your Compost’s Benefits
When it comes to composting, it seems pretty simple: throw everything in the pile and let the magic happen. While that’s true, there’s a little more to it.
You don’t want your compost to ever totally dry out, so if it’s the dry season, considering watering it a little bit. It also helps to wet cardboard and other paper products before putting them on the pile.
Aeration is very important for your compost as well.
You should use a large pitchfork or shovel to turn your compost every 2-4 weeks. The compost on the inside of the pile should go to the outside, and the compost on the outside should go to the inside.
Critters can either help or hurt your compost.
Consider putting up chicken wire to keep furry friends out, but having worms in your compost is fantastic. Worms speed up the decomposition process and enrich your compost, turning it into even better fertilizer.
For more info about how worms can benefit your compost pile, check out this article about compositing for beginners.
Cut Up Your Raw Materials
This is my favorite tip for effective composting, easy as it is.
Cut up your materials! If you’re throwing in a banana peel, chop it up first. Adding printer paper? Put it through the shredder if you can.
Breaking up the raw materials before adding them to your compost pile helps speed up the process. It creates more manageable meals for worms and makes turning your pile way easier. Think of it as chewing your food before swallowing it.
Don’t Sweat It!
Composting might seem a little tricky, but really, it’s super easy. Just follow the biggest rules (keep a consistent ratio of green-to-brown materials, aerate your pile, and be patient), and you’ll have beautiful, rich compost in no time. Even if you do everything wrong, you’ll still do it right.
My Final Thoughts Making Fertilizer From Kitchen Waste
Making your own garden fertilizer from kitchen waste is easy, convenient, and good for both your wallet and the environment. As long as you loosely follow the basic steps, you’ll have your own homemade black gold in no time.
And if you choose to go the route of adding scraps directly to your garden rather than composting, no worries! It’s just as beneficial to your plants, so don’t sweat it.
No matter what, patience is key! Decomposition is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. So sit back, relax, and enjoy watching the process happen.
It really is one of nature’s miracles, and you can make it happen right in your own garden. I hope you enjoy making your own fertilizer from kitchen waste, and enjoy the bountiful harvest it will bring you!