Follow these five homemade fertiliser recipes for cheaper, more organic and very effective alternatives
Organic gardening is the new way to go. Get in the groove by using household refuse like banana peels, egg shells and coffee grounds to give your garden a healthy taste of something natural.
1. Used tea leaves and coffee grounds
Tea leaves and coffee grounds contain natural nitrogen which helps to promote foliage growth. They make a wonderful fertiliser for lettuce, spinach and other foliage vegetables and ornamentals. Simply add the tea leaves and coffee grounds to the top layer of the soil and water well, avoiding contact with the base of the plants.
Adding coffee grounds to the soil raises the soil acidity levels slightly making it ideal for acid loving ornamentals like azaleas and camellias. For plants that prefer more alkaline conditions simply add some lime to the soil.
A strong liquid fertiliser can also be made by soaking spent coffee grounds in water for a week or two. Dilute before applying to your plants and avoid direct contact with the foliage.
2. Blended kitchen scraps
Start by pouring a cup of water into a blender. As the day progresses and kitchen scraps accumulate, add them to the blender; only use vegetable scraps. Add some egg shells or chalk for a higher calcium level. Blend it all up and feed your plants by mixing into the soil around the plant’s base.
3. Leave it to the worms
Vermicomposting or worm composting is a great way to make compost of your old veggie scraps. It’s more organic, the children can get involved and your plants will love it.
You’ll need a composting bin to accommodate the worms; an old plastic storage container works well. Worms and even soil need to breathe so drill some holes in the sides and top of the container to allow for air movement and gaseous exchange.
Position your container in the shade close to the kitchen for easy access. Make bedding in the base of the container with newspaper, leaves, peat moss, compost or wood chips. Slightly moisten the base, add worms – preferably tiger worms (Eisenia andrei), add the first layer of kitchen scraps and you’re ready to go (visit wormfarm.co.za).
Remember to keep the worm bedding moist at all times as worms like cool, dark spaces and they need moisture and well aerated conditions to survive and thrive. Keep this in mind when selecting a location for your composting bin and check the moisture levels every time you add kitchen scraps.
Many like to add a tap to the bottom of the container. Not only does this allow for better control of moisture in the container, it enables you to harvest a nutrient rich “worm tea” which can be used as a foliar fertiliser.
4. For indoor plants
This recipe can be used to replace indoor plant food. It’s also great for vegetables and roses.
All you need is 1 tablespoon Epsom salts, 3,5 litres of water and a watering can. Mix all the ingredients and use the solution once a month to water your plants. Epsom salts are made of magnesium and sulphate, both essential nutrients for plants.
Also essential for plant health is potassium. Bananas contain loads of the stuff making them a cheap, easy and effective fertiliser. Accumulate your banana peels and scraps, dry them out in the oven and place in a blender. Mix in 3 – 5 egg shells for an added boost of calcium, another vital nutrient necessary for healthy plants. Blend into a fine, yet still slightly coarse powder. Apply to the base of your plants like you would a granular fertiliser.
Keith Kirsten’s Plant Info visit plantinfo.co.za