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Thursday, April 24, 2014

DIY Thursday: All Natural Fertilizer

Earth Day was Tuesday so in honor of that (and so I'm not saving the planet on only one day a year), I'm posting a DIY way to naturally fertilize your garden. Sure, it's faster and easier to buy a bag of something from the local big box store, but in my quest to make my life more natural, and safe myself money by doing it myself, I found this.

For Christmas I received a small kitchen compost. With no directions. Thank you HGTV for your article! In addition to my small compost (small pot, large garden, I'm getting there!) I also decided to try a couple from House Logic: Make Your Own Inexpensive Garden Fertilize (first set) and a couple from Organic Authority (second set). They both recommended fireplace ash. Use the links to see what else they recommend, I only copied what I used. I kept in their links, but added my own comments with links in parenthesis. Good luck!
House Logic:
First, Test Your Soil (I didn't us a professional. I did this from Frugal Living)

Test your soil to determine which nutrients it lacks. You don’t want to add, say, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer if nitrogen already is abundant.
A professional soil test costs less than $20 and will tell you everything you need to know about what’s in your soil. Contact your local extension agent to find a soil-testing laboratory near you.

Soak Your Plants in Epsom Salts

Why: Epsom salts consist of magnesium — critical for seed germination and chlorophyll production — and sulfur — key for protein production and plant growth. A dose of an Epsom salts solution increases fruit and flower production in roses, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and houseplants.
How: Combine 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water. Spray foliage with the solution for best results.

Save Your Wood Ash (I did do this! Saved all my ash from my wood stove and tilled it in with the leaves and grass cuttings.)

Why: Wood ash not only adds calcium (good for root growth) and potassium (promotes seed and fruit formation) to soil, but it also raises the pH of highly acidic soil, making it friendlier to neutral pH-loving plants, such as most vegetables. (Don’t use it in blueberry gardens, which like acidic soil.)
How: Apply wood ash straight from the fireplace to your garden: Dig in 5 lbs./100 sq. ft.

Organic Authority:
Compost Tea

Caution: Be sure to use a finished compost. Unfinished compost may contain harmful pathogens, and compost that is too old may be nutritionally deficient.
  1. Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/3 full of quality finished compost.
  2. Fill with water to a few inches below the top.
  3. Let the mixture steep for 3-4 days.
  4. Stir the tea as often as you can.
  5. Strain the mixture, through cheesecloth or any other porous fabric, into another bucket. Add the remaining compost to your garden or put it back in your compost bin.
  6. Dilute the remaining liquid with water using a 10:1 ratio of water to tea. (Your watering cans contents should have the look of a weak iced tea.)
  7. Fertilizer the soil or use with a foliar sprayer and spray the leaves.

Grass Fertilizer
Fertilizer is rich in nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus. Caution: Be careful not to use grass treated with herbicides.  

  1. Fill a 5 gallon bucket 2/3 of the way full with fresh grass clippings.
  2. Fill with water to a few inches below the top.
  3. Let it sit and steep at room temperature for 3 days, making sure to stir it once a day.
  4. Strain the liquid off.
  5. Dilute the “tea” with equal parts water.
  6. Fertilizer the soil or use with a foliar sprayer and spray the leaves.

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