Cheap and easy natural fertilisers for bountiful gardens
Mother Nature knows best, as they say, and she certainly provides plenty of lovely natural fertilisers for a cheap and cheerful way to a healthy, beautiful garden plot filled with beneficial bugs.
Try some of these do-it-yourself organic fertilisers this year - we'd love to hear how you get on!
>> Slip in a banana peel
Bananas contain potassium, which is why they're good to eat if you're prone to muscle cramps during exercise. Roses love potassium too, so slip in a couple of banana peels near the roots when you're next planting or, for plants already in situ, bury a peel under the mulch to compost above the roots.
>> Nourish with nitrogen-packed nettle tea
Take care to wear gloves and long sleeves when picking your nettles!
Grab a deep bucket or clean dustbin and thickly fill with your nettle cuttings. Don't add water at this point, as you'll end up with a putrid mess - ask me how I know! Leaving the stems and leaves dry, instead simply weigh them down with a brick or alternative heavy item. Roof tiles work well if you have any hanging around. Cover the container with a lid and leave the concoction to break down over the next month.
After a month, lift the bricks and you should find a lovely gooey liquid where once sat your nettle leaves. Dilute this 1:10 with water and apply around the stems and roots of your prize plants with a watering can.
>> Lay on some lawn clipping tea
In the same way as comfrey and nettles, grass is also rich in nitrogen and breaks down over time to enhance the soil. A plus point - grass tea is a faster brew, relatively speaking.
For your 'quick' lawn clipping tea, first save a bucket of grass clippings from the compost pile. Add water up to the top of your bucket and let the potion sit for a day or two. When it's ready, mix up one cup of grass tea into ten cups of water and apply around the base of your plants.
>> Spread some coffee grounds
Any acid-loving plants, such as rhododendrons, roses and blueberries, will get a kick from a spoonful or two of used coffee grounds mixed well into the topsoil or potting soil and then watered in. Be careful not to overload the soil with coffee if the soil is already towards the low end of the pH scale as even these 'lime hating' plants don't tolerate excessively acidic soils.
>> Crunch over some egg shells
Washed and crushed egg shells scattered around lime-loving plants serve a dual purpose: firstly, their sharp edges help to keep slugs and snails from tender plants, and secondly, as they break down they add calcium and other wonderful nutrients into the soil.
>> Slather over some seaweed
Used as a soil improver since pre-history, seaweed can be used either fresh or dried. Simply chop a few large handfuls into a bucket or watering can, cover with water and leave for a week. Drench the soil around plants with the resulting 'tea' to feed beneficial soil microbes.