When it comes to our garden and the food we provide for our family, we like to keep everything natural – and that includes any and all types of fertilizers used on our plants. The simple truth is, when it comes to providing a little boost to plants and flowers – there are some great, all natural methods that work wonders without the need to ever use a single store-bought fertilizer.

Natural fertilizers
Natural fertilizers can do wonders for your garden. Photo credit : Shutterstock / Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova

Unlike synthetic, man-made fertilizers – all of the natural diy fertilizers below actually help to build high quality soil for the long term – creating a more productive garden for you each and every year. Even better – all but one can be made for free!

It’s important to remember that any and all fertilizers should be used in moderation. Too much of a good thing really can be a problem for plants – especially when it comes to fertilizing the soil. If you have thick, dark green plants with lots of leaf growth but very few veggies forming – it’s most likely due to too much fertilizer.

Here are 5 of our favorite’s to use:

5 Natural DIY Fertilizers 

Compost Tea

Compost tea is one of the best liquid fertilizers you can use – and it’s free and easy to make!  Compost tea is nothing more than fresh compost steeped in water for a few days. The water absorbs all of the nutrients, and when applied to your plants root zones and leaves – gives a powerful boost! 

All you need to make your own compost tea is a couple of shove fulls of compost, A 5 gallon bucket and water
All you need to make your own compost tea is a couple of shove fulls of compost, A 5 gallon bucket and water

Compost Tea can be applied every few weeks to your garden once plants and transplants have become established. As with watering, it is best to apply early in the day before the sun is too hot and the tea can burn the leaves of plants. As with any fertilizer, apply in moderation. Too much fertilizer and your plants will put all their growth into creating leaves – and little veggies!  See: How To Make Compost Tea

Manure Tea

Although we have always been partial to our compost tea – manure tea is another excellent alternative for those that raise their own livestock such as chickens, rabbits, cattle or horse. Manure tea, like compost tea, is made by steeping a shovel-full of fresh manure in a 5 gallon bucket of water for about 24 to 36 hours. It can then be applied by watering around the plant’s root zones. Manure tea can be extremely potent and can burn the foliage of plants – so be careful to not drench the leaves.

When applying manure tea, it is best to only use on non-root crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.   

Coffee Grounds

Coffee can do more than just provide a little get-up-an-go in the morning for you – it and can also do the same for your garden plants! Coffee grounds are an excellent source of nitrogen – and contrary to popular belief, it will not acidify the soil. (The PH of coffee grounds are right near the neutral)

natural fertilizers
Coffee grounds are excellent as a fertilizer – and in the compost pile. ( photo: shutterstock / NorGal)

Sprinkle a few teaspoons of grounds around each plant every few weeks and water in – the coffee will act as a slow release fertilizer pushing small amounts of nitrogen to the plants.

Coffee grounds are also an excellent choice to put in your compost pile – providing a little nitrogen kick to heat up the pile and make faster compost!


You simply will not find a better organic fertilizer than compost. It contains all the nutrients your garden needs! We apply a 2 inch thick layer of compost around every single plant in the garden. Not only will it help to reduce weeds around your plants – but the compost will act as the perfect slow-release fertilizer each time you water or it rains. 

Great compost holds all of the nutrients needed to power your garden, and helps keep soil loose, workable and energized. In addition to the mulching method – we use it liberally in all of our vegetable planting holes and as an additive to all of our homemade planter and hanging basket soil mixes.  See : 5 Tips To Make Great Compost

Cover Crops

This is a little more of a long term fertilizer for your garden – but probably the most important of all if you want to build incredible soil! Each and every fall we plant a cover crop of annual rye or buckwheat – and it is by far the best “fertilizer” we can apply to our garden!

We use annual rye as a great cover crop for our growing rows
We use annual rye as a great cover crop for our growing rows

Cover crops are simple to plant, require zero maintenance –  and add tremendous amounts of organic matter and nutrition back to your garden, as well as help to fix nitrogen levels so that plants can grow strong. They also protect the soil from losing valuable nutrients from the snow, ice, wind and rain through the harsh winter months.

By covering the soil with a thick blanket of a super-charged cover crop – it also significantly cuts down on the amount of weeds in next year’s garden by keeping blowing and drifting seeds from finding a home.  See: Planting Cover Crops 

We hope you enjoyed this week’s gardening article! be sure to check out our new book Growing Simple –  now available on Amazon.com, it is now available in both paperback and ebook. If you would like to receive our Recipes, DIY and Gardening articles each week, you can sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.  

Happy Gardening!  Jim and Mary

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