Fertilizing your garden is one of the best things you can do for it. Proper fertilizing can lead to vibrant flowers, robust veggie patches, and delicious fruit.
But liquid fertilizers, which are sometimes the better choice, are expensive, and dry fertilizers might not be what’s right for your garden.
Luckily for you, I’m here to teach you how to make your own liquid fertilizer from dry fertilizer!
Believe it or not, it’s not a super complex process. You can do it yourself right in your own home, and have nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer in just 24 hours. You don’t need any crazy materials or experience, and it’s way easier than you probably think it is. I know I was shocked the first time I made my own liquid fertilizer–it’s so easy!
It’s also wallet-friendly since liquid fertilizer is usually more expensive than dry fertilizer even if it isn’t more nutrient-dense. Keep reading to find out more about how to make your very own liquid fertilizer from dry fertilizer!
In this guide you’ll learn:
- The many benefits of making liquid fertilizer from dry fertilizer
- What you’ll need to convert dry fertilizer to liquid fertilizer
- How to make your own liquid garden fertilizer
- And so much more!
What Are The Benefits Of Making Liquid Fertilizer from Dry Fertilizer?
There are a lot of benefits to converting dry fertilizer to liquid fertilizer. By doing it yourself, you prevent a lot of problems that dry fertilizer can cause, ensure that your plants get the nutrients they need, and help out your wallet. That’s a win-win-win right there! Below are a few of the many benefits of converting dry fertilizer to liquid.
It’s Good For Your Wallet
I don’t know about you, but if I can avoid paying extra money for something I can feasibly do myself, I will absolutely give it a shot. Making your own liquid fertilizer is super easy, organic, and you don’t have to pay more than a few bucks to get started.
Instead of paying for liquid fertilizer, you can make it yourself right in your own home. Liquid fertilizer tends to be more expensive for a few reasons, namely the fact that you’re able to avoid a lot of problems that can occur with dry fertilizer, and the convenience of just being able to pour it over your garden.
Still wondering exactly why liquid fertilizer is more expensive? Check out this quick YouTube video to learn why it makes sense to convert dry fertilizer to liquid fertilizer yourself:
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You Prevent The Problems That Come With Dry Fertilizer
Dry fertilizer is great sometimes, but it can have its issues. Dry fertilizer can crust on the soil, preventing your plants from getting the nutrients they need. It can also sit on top of the soil and mold, which is gross!
A lot of organic dry fertilizers can also attract critters or even your furry friends. For example, dogs love the smell of bone meal and have been known to dig up entire gardens and to eat the fertilizer, and then they can become sick (side note: if you have a dog who loves to dig, fence in your garden if possible. Trust me on this).
By converting your fertilizer into a liquid state, it gets absorbed right into the soil. Your dog or cat or another nearby animal will still be attracted to the smell, but they won’t be able to actually ingest the fertilizer. So, still a good idea to fence in your garden, but you won’t have to worry about accidentally making your pet ill.
Liquid fertilizer also has a few additional perks. You can use it in cold weather–dry fertilizer needs a certain temperature to break down and provide nutrients for your plants. It’s also quick-acting and gets those oftentimes much-needed nutrients to your plants faster.
You also avoid the problems of mold or crusting, as I mentioned before. Overall, liquid fertilizer is simply more efficient, less likely to cause problems, and safer if you have pets.
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What Do You Need To Know About Making Liquid Fertilizer From Dry Fertilizer?
There are a few things you need to consider if you’re thinking about converting dry fertilizer to liquid. You should think about the type of fertilizer you want to use, the size of pitcher/container you have, and your storage options.
Keep reading to learn more about what you should keep in mind when thinking about making your own garden fertilizer.
What Type Of Dry Fertilizer Should You Use?
There are two main types of fertilizer, both with their own little subcategories. You can go with organic fertilizer or inorganic fertilizer, but obviously, whatever you choose has to be dry, aka in granules or pellets.
Now, I’ve always advocated for organic fertilizers, and I will here, too. Making liquid fertilizer from dry fertilizer is a hands-on process, so I find it safer to use organic fertilizer if possible. Now, if there’s a huge price difference or you have a lot of land to cover, I totally get favoring inorganic (aka usually more inexpensive) fertilizer. But let me tell you real quick about why you should go organic.
Like I said, making liquid fertilizer is a hands-on process. You’ll be working closely with a large amount of fertilizer, so it’s important to have protective gear (gloves, goggles, and potentially even a mask since we all have those now anyway) regardless of what type of fertilizer you use.
That being said, inorganic fertilizers are full of chemicals like ammonium sulfate, potassium chloride, salt, and sulfur, which can all cause irritation or damage to your eyes, skin, or lungs. If you don’t have any protective equipment, just be really careful. Speaking from experience, getting fertilizer in your eyes hurts. A lot.
Of course, getting organic fertilizer in your eye or lungs is going to be really uncomfortable, too, but you don’t risk damaging those (very delicate, very important) organs with chemicals. Being safe about what you’re wearing is always smart, but a lot of risk is minimized by using organic fertilizers.
I highly recommend learning more about organic versus inorganic fertilizers. It’s one of those things that we, as gardeners, can never learn enough about!
What Size Container Do You Have?
I’ll get into the steps in a little bit, but first, you should really think about where you’re going to be making this. You need a container that will hold at least a gallon of materials.
Your container should be pet-proof just in case you’re using a fertilizer like bone meal, which can attract dogs, and also kid-proof for obvious reasons.
You also don’t want this to be a container you use for any other purposes, especially not edible ones. Like if you’re using an old milk jug, don’t try to repurpose it into a lemonade container a month later, especially if you’re using an inorganic fertilizer.
I use an old plastic bin with a locking lid so that my dog can’t get into it, and I can make large batches. That being said, it’s kind of a pain to strain the liquid once I’m done, or even get it out of there. There’s really no perfect container, just make sure it’s a designated one that you won’t use for anything else.
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This kind of ties into my previous point, but it’s still important to talk about.
If you live in an apartment, don’t make a 10-gallon batch of liquid fertilizer! This is for a couple of reasons:
- It won’t last forever. I find it best to use it all up and make another batch it I need it, rather than having to store it somewhere.
- Where will you keep it? If you don’t have a shed or garage or somewhere to store it, you’ll just be wasting it, and your money, and nobody wants that.
Also keep in mind any pets you may have. Like I said, organic fertilizers can attract your furry friends, but they can also attract outdoor critters like fox and coyote that you don’t want hanging around your backyard. Keeping it in a random bin in your shed may not be the best idea.
That being said, you have no reason to worry about actually using it. The smell is not nearly as concentrated once applied, and it’s gone in a day or two. The problem comes when you try to store it long-term in a container that isn’t air-tight and smell-free, so just keep that in mind!
What Do I Need to Make Liquid Fertilizer From Dry Fertilizer?
I know I hinted at what supplies you’ll need already, but here’s a comprehensive, one-stop-shop list of everything you’ll need.
- Fertilizer, of course
- A storage container that can hold at least one gallon of water.
- A watering can or some kind of pitcher
- Something with which to mix the fertilizer and water together (I recommend a shovel or trowel)
- A strainer or large colander (preferably one you won’t use for cooking)
- A mask (optional)
I’ll get into how these 8 materials come together in the next section, but make sure you have these things before getting started! Again, the PPE is mostly optional, although I highly recommend it (seriously, fertilizer in the eye is no joke. And I wear glasses, so you’d think I’d be safe, but no).
This isn’t a crazy science experiment and nothing will explode, but I’ll always recommend being safe over being sorry. In fact, I highly encourage you to read up on gardening safety as a whole–always something good to know!
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How To Convert Dry Fertilizer To Liquid?
Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the process of making liquid fertilizer from dry fertilizer! I’ll admit this is slightly anticlimactic, but it’s still a cool and rewarding process.
1. Prepare Your Workspace
I recommend doing this outside, as it can get a little messy. You’ll need one gallon of water per cup of fertilizer, so just make sure you have the proper amount in whatever container you’re using.
Make sure you have whatever PPE you’re using, as well as your fertilizer ready to go and your stirring device (I’m just going to say shovel from here on out).
2. Measure and Mix
This is the big one, ready? Measure out one cup of fertilizer and add it to one gallon of water (or two and two, three and tree, whatever floats your boat). Mix it up with your shovel so there aren’t any clumps, and the fertilizer is fully saturated.
Don’t forget to rinse off your shovel when you’re done!
3. Cover Your Container
Experts can’t agree on whether or not you should cover your fertilizer as it liquifies, but I say go ahead. I’ve always covered mine, since I live with a (quite nosy) dog, and I don’t want her getting into anything.
Covering your container is especially important if you’re using bone-or-blood meal, which can attract your dog or backyard critters, or have curious kids around. Better safe than sorry, right?
4. Remember That Patience Is A Virtue
Yes, it’s the most overrated virtue, but a virtue nonetheless. Take a nap, eat a sandwich, go for a jog, whatever you want to do to pass 24 hours. I set an alarm on my phone for the next day so I don’t forget and then just continue on with whatever I was doing (usually some other garden-related task).
Try not to stare at your fertilizer mixture too much–trust me when I say it makes the time go by slower. You can stir it periodically, and I do recommend that, but try not to touch it too often. Just sit back and let the magic happen!
5. Strain and Apply
After 24 hours, you’re ready to go! Stir up your new liquid fertilizer one more time and strain out any remaining solids. Apply to your garden, sparingly on young plants, and reap the benefits soon after. Store any leftover liquid fertilizer in a cool, dark place, preferably a shed or under-the-stairs cupboard, and out of reach of children.
Want to know more about the chemical process of converting dry fertilizer to liquid fertilizer? This helpful article from the University of Florida has got you covered!
My Final Thoughts Making Liquid Fertilizer From Dry Fertilizer
Making your own liquid fertilizer from dry fertilizer is easy, convenient, and a wallet-friendly idea. All it takes is a few supplies and 24 hours for your garden to receive a delicious and nutrient-dense liquid fertilizer. Prevent plant burning and crusting while also making a budget-conscious choice!
Using liquid fertilizer also keeps critters away from your garden, and keeps your dog safe. And find me somebody who doesn’t want that!
Making your own liquid fertilizer is super rewarding, especially when you get to harvest beautiful tomatoes, huge cucumbers, and delicious peppers. Enjoy beautiful flowers and sweeter fruit, too! I hope you enjoy the process and the results of making your own liquid fertilizer.