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Give your garden a jump-start with a jolt of homemade liquid fertilizer.

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Whether it’s made from seaweed, vegetable scraps, manure, or just plain weeds, liquid fertilizer provides a boost in garden fertility. Learn how to break the habit of costly commercial fertilizers– and grow the garden you’ve always dreamed of— with this tutorial.

Fortunately for DIY folk, liquid fertilizer can be made from many different materials. The basic method is pretty straight-forward: you take something high in nitrogen and other nutrients, you add water, you let it sit for a spell. The “sitting time” ranges from overnight to several weeks. Some techniques employ a blender. But, generally speaking, if you have a kitchen, a pail, and a hose, you can make liquid fertilizer. In this article, we’ll outline some of the drawbacks to chemical fertilizers, and give you several recipes for homemade organic liquid fertilizer. Ready to get started?

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Benefits of Homemade Organic Fertilizer

Aside from being a huge money-saver, making your own fertilizer is environmentally friendly. First, you’ll be giving new life to “waste” materials, such as vegetable scraps and weeds, and reducing the amount of trash you create. Second, you won’t be supporting a scurrilous chemical industry that mines and pillages for its raw materials– everything in your homemade fertilizer will be 100% organic. Best of all, you eliminate the environmentally costly supply chain– everything from packaging to manufacturing to shipping– that commercial fertilizer entails. There’s no good reason to not make your own.

Liquid Fertilizer Recipes

 

These recipes have all proven effective, but feel free to experiment if you have access to something you think would make good fertilizer. If you live by the beach, seaweed can be used in place of or in addition to weeds in Recipe #2 for a liquid fertilizer rich in calcium. Comfrey, a medicinal herb, is exceptionally high in many important nutrients, and pretty easy to grow. Eggshells make great additions to your fertilizer “brew,” as well.

Compost “tea” is also something you can try. Follow the directions for the manure-based liquid fertilizer, substituting compost for the manure.

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Homemade liquid fertilizer from vegetable scraps

Ingredients: Vegetable scraps, Epsom salt, ammonia (optional), water.

Equipment required: Blender, five gallon bucket.

Steeping time: Twenty-four hours.

Start by saving all your cooked or raw vegetable scraps. Save them in the freezer until you have a couple of quarts’ worth. You can also save the water from boiling pasta or vegetables, which is also a good source of nutrients. To make the “scrap puree” which will form the base for your fertilizer, thaw your frozen scraps and puree them in a blender with enough water to make a smooth consistency. Pour the pureed scraps into your large bucket. For every blender-ful of puree, add 1/2 tsp Epson salt and one capful of ammonia to the bucket. Repeat this process until all your scraps are pureed. Stir the bucket and let it sit overnight. To mix up a batch of liquid fertilizer, add one quart of puree to one gallon of warm water, and shake to mix. Apply to the soil at the base of your plants.

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Homemade liquid fertilizer from weeds and yard trimmings

Ingredients: Weeds, yard trimmings, mowed grass, water.

Equipment required: Five gallon bucket– or larger vessel if you want a really big batch of fertilizer.

Steeping time: Four weeks.

This one couldn’t be any more straightforward. Choose freshly pulled or plucked weeds from your garden– trimmings such as tomato suckers work as well– and put a few handfuls in your five-gallon bucket. Fill it the rest of the way up with water, and leave it to steep for the allotted time. The steeping process is best done outside, as it can get a little smelly. When ready, apply to the soil at the base of your plants.

 

Homemade liquid fertilizer from manure

Ingredients: Manure of your choice, water.

Equipment required: Five gallon bucket– or larger vessel if you want a really big batch of fertilizer.

Steeping time: Four weeks.

If you live in an agricultural area, or if you have livestock of your own, you can make a truly exceptional liquid fertilizer from livestock manure. This process is definitely best done outside, but I probably didn’t need to tell you that! The process is the same as for the above recipe– a bucket, some water, and a shovelful of manure, steep for four weeks and apply to the soil at the base of your plants. Though it might sound disgusting, manure is incredibly high in nitrogen, and the ultimate “waste” product. Finding a use for the stuff is really rewarding.

Homemade liquid fertilizer is easy, environmentally friendly, and essentially free. It’s a great way to convert waste into something valuable, and a terrific way to boost fertility in the garden.

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