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Homemade Fertilizers

By Ellen Brown

Homemade Fertilizers


What are some household or homemade fertilizers? I've heard that you can use coffee grounds, tea bags and other things like that. What can
I use for fertilizer? Thanks.

Tammy from Fort McCoy, FL



Several useful household items (especially food waste) can be made into fertilizers or soil amendments. Ideally, anything you add to the soil around your plants should be composted first. This accomplishes two things. It prevents the waste from depleting nitrogen from the soil around your plants while it breaks down, and allows plenty of time for the nutrients contained in the waste to be converted into a form your plants can use. Digging through some of my own resources, here are three other common household items that are often recommended for use as fertilizers. I don't personally add any of these to my soil in their raw form, however invariably some do end up making it into our compost pile.


  • Beer Usually recommended as a fertilizer source for the lawn or flower garden. (Mixed as 1-tablespoon beer a 1-gallon of water). This sounds interesting, but when actually tested, the results have been mixed. Beer contains trace minerals and proteins that are probably useful for plants. However, alcohol is not good for plants so ultimately, using beer as a fertilizer is probably a wash.

  • Milk/Buttermilk (1 part milk to 4 parts water). These are animal products and high in nitrogen because of their protein content. Nuts, gelatin, and meat also contain protein and will act as sources of nitrogen. Most gardeners like to avoid using animal products in their garden because the smell is unpleasant and tends to attract animals.

  • Eggshells Crushed eggshells add low concentrations of sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus to the soil. Use 4-5 crushed eggshells per plant. You can also use the water leftover from boiling your eggs.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at


Homemade Fertilizers

I keep a coffee can lined with a plastic shopping bag under the sink. In it, I put all veggie and fruit peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells (crushed). When it gets full, I take it outside and put it into a pile of leaves that I have crushed up. I periodically turn it to let oxygen into the (now, compost) pile. This is great for any garden. You can put in grass clippings, too. Anything plant related that isn't poisonous and nothing meat as it attracts animals and nasty bacteria. Hope this helps you out. (07/21/2008)


By MiraY

Homemade Fertilizers

Homemade fertilizer is compost.

What to Compost
Material Carbon/Nitrogen Info:

  • table scraps, Nitrogen, add with dry carbon items
  • fruit and vegetable scraps, Nitrogen, add with dry carbon items
  • eggshells, Neutral, best when crushed
  • leaves, Carbon, leaves break down faster when shredded
  • grass clippings, Nitrogen, add in thin layers so they don't mat into clumps
  • garden plants, (use disease-free plants only), lawn and garden weeds, Nitrogen, only use weeds which have not gone to seed
  • shrub prunings, Carbon, woody prunings are slow to break down
  • straw or hay, Carbon, straw is best; hay (with seeds) is less ideal
  • green Comfrey leaves, Nitrogen, excellent compost "activator"
  • pine needles, Carbon, acidic; use in moderate amounts
  • flowers, cuttings, Nitrogen, chop up any long woody stems
  • seaweed and kelp, Nitrogen, rinse first; good source for trace minerals

  • wood ash, Carbon, only use ash from clean materials; sprinkle lightly
  • chicken manure, Nitrogen, excellent compost "activator"
  • coffee grounds, Nitrogen, filters may also be included
  • tea leaves, Nitrogen, loose or in bags
  • newspaper, Carbon, avoid using glossy paper and colored inks
  • shredded paper, Carbon, avoid using glossy paper and colored inks
  • cardboard, Carbon, shred material to avoid matting
  • corn cobs and stalks, Carbon, slow to decompose; best if chopped up
  • dryer lint, Carbon, best if from natural fibers
  • sawdust, Carbon, high carbon levels; add in layers to avoid clumping
  • wood chips, Carbon, high carbon levels; use sparingly

You can also add garden soil to your compost. A layer of soil will help to mask any odours, and micro-organisms in the soil will accelerate the composting process.


Do not compost meat, bones or fish scraps (they will attract pests), perennial weeds (they can be spread with the compost) or diseased plants. Do not not include pet manures in compost that will be used on food crops. Banana peels, peach peels and orange rinds may contain pesticide residue, and should be kept out of the compost. Black walnut leaves should not be composted. Sawdust may be added to the compost, but should be mixed or scattered thinly to avoid clumping. Be sure sawdust is clean, with no machine oil or chain oil residues from cutting equipment.

For kitchen wastes, keep a large plastic container with a lid and a handle under the sink. Chop up any large chunks before you toss them in. When the container is full, then empty it into the compost pile. This reduces the number of trips you'll have to make.


You can google making compost for more information


By Harry

Homemade Fertilizers

Urine diluted with water makes a good fertilizer. It's high in urea and nitrogen. Sounds gross, but if you make sure to apply it to the soil, there's no problem. (07/22/2008)

By Nance

Homemade Fertilizers

Don't be tempted to use dog or cat feces. They carry parasites that can infect humans. Nobody wants a case of heartworm. (07/23/2008)

By kimhis

Homemade Fertilizers

If you are using coffee grounds, don't use the "flavored" stuff. It has a lot of artificial stuff in it that bugs really seem to love. (07/23/2008)

By catastrofy

Homemade Fertilizers

Not sure if you own an aquarium or not, but The Green Gardenista has a clever recommendation: using the nitrogen-rich water from your freshwater fish tank when you are cleaning out the tank.

Here's more from her about this idea if you're interested: (08/26/2008)

By penguinforhire

Homemade Fertilizers

Dish water is super. It fed our rhubarb so generously that we had rhubarb for canning, fresh use, and giving away in the second year. (10/03/2008)

By Coreen H.

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