Make Your Own Natural Fertlizers

Epsom Salts

Epsom salt is comprised of hydrated magnesium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral first found in the well waters of Epsom, England. Epsom salt has a variety of home remedy applications – the two most widely known being as a saline laxative and pain reliever. What many people don’t realize is that Epsom salt also has several uses in organic gardening, it contains two important elements that plants need to maintain optimum health. Magnesium plays a vital role during photosynthesis and is required by plants for the proper functioning of many enzymatic processes. Seeds also need magnesium to germinate. Sulfur aids plants with several functions including amino acid production, root growth, and the formation of chlorophyll. This mineral also gives cole crops and Alliums their signature flavors.

It is almost impossible to use too much Epsom salt in your garden. Magnesium sulfate is pH neutral, so it won’t harm your soil. The crystals break down into water, magnesium, and sulfur – three components which are beneficial in some way to most plants. Epsom salt is safe, easy to apply, and works fast to correct a variety of problems and increase the overall health of your garden. As if that weren’t enough, Epsom salt is also inexpensive making it one of the most perfect tools for the health-conscious, responsible gardener.

Fertilize your onions, broccoli, and cabbages with Epsom salts to get healthier, sweeter-tasting vegetables. Use Epsom salts on tomatoes, peppers, and roses to grow stronger plants with more blossoms. As a general use fertilizer, Epsom salts are an inexpensive way to give your whole garden a healthy boost of nutrients. An Epsom salt solution is also a great way to replenish magnesium and sulfur levels in depleted potting soil.

Mix a tablespoon of Epsom salts with one gallon of water and apply to garden plants as a foliar spray once every two weeks. When feeding roses, use one tablespoon of salts per foot of the plant’s height mixed in a gallon of water. Spray once in the spring when leaves begin to appear and again after your roses bloom. For vegetables, sprinkle a tablespoon of Epsom salts around each seedling as soon as they are transplanted into the garden. Repeat this feeding following the first bloom and fruiting. For potted plants, dissolve two tablespoons of salts in one gallon of water and use this solution in place of normal watering once per month.

Several Benefits of using Epsom salt in the garden.

  • Improve Seed Germination. Magnesium aids in seed germination and helps to strengthen cell walls, leading to more and stronger seedlings. For best results, incorporate 1 cup of salt per 100 square feet of tilled soil or mix 1 – 2 tablespoons into the soil at the bottom of each hole before dropping in seeds.
  • Increase Nutrient Absorption, adding Epsom salt to soil will improve absorption naturally, eliminating the need for processed chemical fertilizers.
  • Counter Transplant Shock, try feeding transplants with Epsom salt once they’ve been transplanted n their new environment to help injured roots overcome transplant shock. Remember to add a layer of soil on top of salt sprinkled in holes so roots don’t come into direct contact with these concentrated minerals right away.
  • Green Up Foliage, magnesium is an essential component in the production of chlorophyll. Try sprinkling Epsom salt around your plants to achieve healthier foliage. About 1 tablespoon per 12 inches of height once a month will benefit the plants in your vegetable garden, as well as any trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses you want to green up.
  • Prevent Leaf Curling. Leaf curling may also be caused by magnesium-deficiency in plants. Add Epsom salt to the soil around the base,or for faster absorption you can mix 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in a gallon of water and apply directly to the leaves.
  • Deter Garden Pests, hydrated magnesium sulfate crystals are sharp and when sprinkled around plants, they can scratch and irritate the bodies and feet of unwanted critters in much the same way as diatomaceous earth. (Remember that Epsom salt dissolves very easily in water, any amount of rain will likely wash them away.)
  • Grow Sweeter Fruit. Apply Epsom salt to fruit and nut trees, bushes, and vines using the same methods and quantities stated above to boost chlorophyll levels inside the plant cells. Increased energy means more sugar, allowing the plant to produce higher yields of sweeter, healthier fruit.

Vinegar Fertilizer

Plain white vinegar is an inexpensive and effective fertilizer for acid-loving plants like roses, hydrangeas, and berries. Simply mix a tablespoon of vinegar in one gallon of water. Use this solution in lieu of your regular watering about once every three months. Remember to test your soil before altering the pH. While many plants thrive in an acidic environment, too low of a pH can be harmful.

Coffee Grounds

Mix used coffee grounds with “brown” yard waste like dead leaves or dry straw and grass clippings to add nitrogen to the soil. Just so long as they’re mixed well with a neutral medium, they won’t significantly alter the pH. This fertilizer is great for plants like azaleas, roses, and hydrangeas which love a more acidic soil.


An excellent practice for recycling waste materials and feeding your garden at the same time, composting is becoming more and more popular with organic gardeners.

Ingredients that make a successful compost mix include:

  • Air and water to sustain the bacteria responsible for decomposing organic matter
  • Dry “brown” material (carbon) such as dead leaves, straw, and other dried garden and yard waste.
  • Wet “green” material (nitrogen) like rabbit or chicken manure, grass clippings, and other fresh plant matter. Try to avoid adding weed seeds to the mix. Your compost may not get hot enough to kill them.
  • For successful composting, you want a ratio of carbon to nitrogen somewhere around 30:1 and 40:1

    Remember, it is important to give your compost adequate time to “cook” – especially if you use manure – as this will kill any harmful pathogens that may be living in the rotting material. Also, it is important that you don’t let your compost age for too long as rotting organic matter will begin to lose nutrients the longer it sits.

    Compost and Grass Clipping Tea

    Grass clippings make an excellent nitrogen-rich fertilizer. To make grass or a compost "tea" for your garden, fill a five-gallon bucket about two-thirds of the way with fresh grass clippings or a third of the way with compost. Top off with water to within an inch or two from the lip. Let the mixture steep for about 72 hours, stirring at least once per day. Strain then dilute the finished product using the followuing ratio:
    • Grass Clipping tea: one part tea to one part fresh water
    • Compost tea: one part tea to 10 parts fresh water

    Apply this solution as a foliar spray or directly to the ground.

    Worm Castings make an excellent organic fertilizer. Learn how to create your own.