Updated: December 22, 2022
Tomato is the number one choice for backyard gardeners. But, it is often seen that new gardeners spend more money on growing tomatoes comparing experienced gardeners.
Besides, there has a myth that “home gardening is expensive.” In general, it seems expensive due to a need for more information.
You can cut your cost by up to 50% by giving extra effort and concentration to make your own homemade natural fertilizer and grow your tomatoes from seeds.
In this article, I will explain how to make a highly nutrient organic fertilizer at home like commercial standard. Your garden plants will thank you if you follow my recipe to make your homemade fertilizer.
It is easy, cheap, and good for your plants’ health.
So let’s start making your homemade organic fertilizer.
Benefits of homemade fertilizers:
- It’s cheaper
- No risk of over-fertilization
- Develop soil structure
- Slow-released fertilizer
- Supply nutrients over the season
- Helps to grow more nutritious and tasty fruits
Can my homemade fertilizer provide all the necessary nutrients for tomatoes?
Yes, it can. But it mostly depends on your present soil condition and the ingredients you use to make the compost.
Usually, tomato plants need essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to grow and harvest. Moreover, they need micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur to get more quality fruits.
If your compost pile contains all the essential nutrients, including micronutrients, it will fulfill the demand for your tomato plants.
So, do the soil test first to know the present soil condition. After getting the soil test result, make your compost by adding all the necessary ingredients which contain the following nutrients.
What are the essential nutrients of fertilizer, and how do they work for plants?
Essential nutrients mean NPK, which stands for nitrogen(N), phosphorous(P), and potassium(K). Plants can’t grow without these basic nutrients. Besides, some supplementary nutrients also play an important role in developing healthy plants, like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.
Nitrogen helps to grow your plants larger and develops foliage. It plays a vital role in plants growing up to setting fruits.
It develops plant roots, healthy blooming, and sets a lot of fruits.
Potassium improves plant growth, and plant hardiness fights diseases and protects plants from insects.
Magnesium plays a vital role in the process of photosynthesis which helps the leaves turn green.
Sulfur provides necessary proteins to plants. It is needed in a small amount, but its deficiency significantly threatens the plants.
It develops plants’ stems and prevents the blossom-end rot of tomatoes.
Which ingredients should I use, and what nutrients do they contain?
To make the best quality fertilizer for tomatoes, you must ensure all the necessary soil nutrients are present in your homemade fertilizer. Here I show you a list of ingredients containing the nutrients for your fertilizer.
Ingredients that contain a high level of nitrogen:
Contain enough nitrogen for your plants.
These are a good source of nitrogen.
It contains a balanced proportion of NPK 2.4-1.4-.6. Therefore, it never burns the plants.
Aged and composted cow, chicken, or horse manure are the best nitrogen sources and homemade fertilizer.
Corn gluten meal:
It comes from corn as a byproduct which contains 10% nitrogen and is a good source of soil nutrients. However, it is also used as an herbicide, so wait to apply it before seed germination.
Ingredients that contain a high level of phosphorous:
It seems weird but includes an adequate amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium comparatively stored brought fertilizer.
This is a good source of phosphorous. One cup of soybeans contains 1309 milligrams of phosphorous.
It’s a kind of seaweed used as organic fertilizer and contains a good amount of phosphorous. It performs better when the tomatoes begin to flower.
One cup of sesame seeds contains 906 milligrams of phosphorous.
Pumpkin or squash seeds:
One cup of pumpkin seeds contains 676 milligrams of phosphorous. Before applying it to your compost pile, smash it properly to remove its shells.
One cup of lentils contains around 866 milligrams of phosphorous.
One cup contains around 380 milligrams of phosphorous.
Navy beans, oats, dried peas, pinto beans, peanuts, and barley are excellent sources of phosphorous.
Ingredients that contain a good level of potassium:
It is an excellent source of potassium and other micronutrients.
You can directly apply it to the soil or toss it into the compost pile. Moreover, you can make a liquid form of fertilizer from it. In addition, you can make liquid fertilizer spray and insect traps using these peels.
This is another good source of potassium. It also contains vitamin C (tomatoes like acidic soil) and other micronutrients and trace minerals.
Potato peels contain a large amount of potassium. A medium size potato skin includes 600-700 milligrams of potassium.
Cucumber peel contains a medium level of potassium.
Sweet potato skins:
Sweet potato skins contain a high level of potassium than normal potato skins.
Your fireplaces might be a decent source of potassium and other trace minerals to make organic fertilizer.
Cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit, mushrooms, and raisins are good sources of potassium. I suggest you only use fresh food for homemade fertilizer if it is a waste.
Ingredients that contain micronutrients, organic matter, and traces of minerals:
Your compost pile is the number-one nutrient provider to your tomatoes and all other plants. It contains all the basic nutrients, including micronutrients and macronutrients, essential for tomato plants.
It contains 1% of nitrogen and 93% of calcium carbonate. It helps to develop plant cells as well as plant growth.
Generate microbes and other helpful bacteria. Moreover, it contains most of the nutrients for your plants, like calcium, manganese, copper, sulfur, carbon, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Increases plants’ ability to take food from the soil and suitable additives of organic fertilizer.
The coffee ground:
Contains 2% nitrogen, 1% potash, and 3% phosphoric acid. This is particularly suitable for acid-loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, azaleas, roses, camellias, avocados, and evergreens.
Fish waste liquid will be excellent nutrients for your plants if it is not salty.
After boiling, the water of fruits, vegetables, potatoes, eggs, food grains, or even pasta can be used as plant nutrients. First, let the water cool and then apply it directly to the plants or compost pile.
It contains magnesium which helps to produce more vigorous plants, enough bloom, a healthy harvest, and a sweeter taste in tomatoes.
Pet and human hair work better as tomato fertilizer. This is because it contains keratin, nitrogen, sulfate, and other trace minerals.
This is a kind of herb commonly used to feed livestock. Dried Alfalfa is an excellent source of organic tomato fertilizer.
This is a liquid form of fertilizer that contains basic nutrients NPK, including other micronutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and sulfur.
Besides, it works quickly compared to compost fertilizer. You can apply it directly to your plants.
The fish head is an excellent source of nutrients for any plant. It contains calcium, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other essential micronutrients.
You can apply it directly to the transplanting holes or toss it into the compost pile.
Organic Cottonseed Meal:
This additive works slowly and performs better during transplanting plants.
It contains the basic soil nutrients NPK in a ratio of 2-1-6. Moreover, it has other micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and other trace elements.
Can I use any combination of the ingredients for my homemade fertilizer?
Yes! You can use whatever you get from your trash can. Also, homemade fertilizer in your garden soil can be less than 100% accurate.
But I recommend you use a balanced combination of the ingredients which contain all the necessary nutrients and include some additional micronutrients if needed. This little effort will help you in various ways, such as:
- Provide an adequate balanced supply of nutrients if your soil holds poor quality
- Able to protect your plants from blossom end rot, yellowing leaf, and other nutrients deficiencies
- Produce good quality fruits
- No need to provide an additional nutrient supply
- Increase your confidence level to make your own fertilizer in future
How to determine which additives I need most?
No matter what you grow in your backyard, do the soil test first. It will help you determine the ingredients you need most and the present soil condition.
You can quickly get a cheap soil test kit from your local garden centers or online stores. If you find difficulties, go to the nearest agricultural extension center for help. They will do it for you.
Based on your soil test report, you can add the ingredients to your compost pile for the best soil amendment.
What proportion of the ingredients to use for my fertilizer recipe?
Your soil test result will show the present soil condition, nutrient deficiency, and soil (pH) level. If your soil holds less nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, or other nutrients, add more ingredients that containing these types of nutrients.
For example, if your soil test report shows that your soil has high potassium deficiency than other nutrients. What will you do then?
In that case, you must add some ingredients to your compost pile containing a high potassium level. Such as banana peels or wood ashes, to keep balance in your fertilizer.
How to make high nutrients organic fertilizer for tomatoes at home?
Following your soil test report to make your homemade fertilizer would be excellent. Apply the same ingredients to your compost pile as your soil test report says. This little effort will bring you the best output.
Basic understanding of fertilizer measurement
Typically, a 50-lb commercial fertilizer bag contains a nutrient ratio like (NPK) of 5-10-15, which means it has 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphate, and 15% potash.
To calculate the lb of the nutrients, multiply 50 by each value. Such as:
Measuring nitrogen: 50 multiplied by 0.05 = 2.5-lb
Measuring phosphorous: 50 multiplied by 0.10 = 5-lb
Measuring potassium: 50 multiplied by 0.15 = 7.5-lb.
In other words, it holds 2.5-lb of nitrogen, 5-lb of phosphate, and 7.5-lb of potash, in total 15-lb of nutrients out of 50-lb. In addition, the weight may fill with sand, granular limestone, and other particles.
How the homemade fertilizers measure the nutrient value like commercial fertilizers?
When measuring your homemade fertilizer nutrients, a 6-gallon container or bucket is similar to a 50-lb fertilizer bag.
For example, what will you do if your soil test result recommends a nutrient (NPK) ratio of 6-12-12 for your garden soil?
Firstly, I recommend getting a 6-gallon container (similar to a 50-lb fertilizer bag) for better measurement.
Calculating the lb of the nutrients, multiply 50 by each value. Such as:
Measuring nitrogen: 50 multiplied by 0.06 = 3-lb
Measuring phosphorous: 50 multiplied by 0.12 = 6-lb
Measuring potassium: 50 multiplied by 0.12 = 6-lb
Fill the container with 6lb of ingredients containing nitrogen, 12 lb of ingredients with phosphorous, and 12 lb with potassium.
The reason for adding the ingredients double because it converted half or lower of its weight when it breaks down and turns into nutrients.
In addition, add some micronutrient ingredients around 10 lb, which contain calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, as your plants require. Finally, fill the remaining container with fresh and diseases free garden soil.
[[[Note: The nutrient value of your homemade fertilizer can be less than 100% accurate like commercial fertilizer.
But, this process ensures you none of the nutrients is missing from your homemade fertilizer and confirms almost 80% accuracy or more.
Besides, you can add other essential micro-nutrients in your fertilizer as your plants demand, which is not likely in store-brought fertilizers.]]]
Some typical grades and their nutrients measurement for your home garden:
N-P-K = 5-10-5 (for measuring a 50-lb fertilizer bag or 6-gallon container)
Nitrogen:50 multiply by 0.05 = 2.5-lb
Phosphorous:50 multiply by 0.10 = 5-lb
Potassium:50 multiply by 0.05 = 2.5-lb
N-P-K = 5-10-10(for measuring a 50-lb fertilizer bag or 6-gallon container)
Nitrogen: 50 multiplied by 0.05 = 2.5-lb
Phosphorous:50 multiply by 0.10 = 5-lb
Potassium:50 multiply by 0.10 = 5-lb
N-P-K = 10-10-10 (for measuring a 50-lb fertilizer bag or 6-gallon container)
Nitrogen: 50 multiplied by 0.10 = 5 lb
Phosphorous:50 multiply by 0.10 = 5-lb
Potassium:50 multiply by 0.10 = 5-lb
N-P-K = 8-0-24 (for measuring a 50-lb fertilizer bag or 6-gallon container)
Nitrogen: 50 multiplied by 0.08 = 4 lb
Phosphorous:50 multiply by 0.0 = 0-lb
Potassium:50 multiply by 0.24 = 12-lb
N-P-K = 6-6-18 (for measuring a 50-lb fertilizer bag or 6-gallon container)
Nitrogen: 50 multiplied by 0.06 = 3 lb
Phosphorous:50 multiply by 0.06 = 3-lb
Potassium:50 multiply by 0.18 = 9-lb
How much compost mix need for each tomato plant?
The best way to apply organic compost is to transplant your tomato plants.
Dig deep holes for each tomato plant and fill them with your homemade organic fertilizer mix. Water well to set them in the ground, and let your tomato plants do the rest.
Just keep watering your plants regularly.
Challenges of homemade fertilizer
- Proper measurement of the necessary nutrients
- Availability of the required nutrient ingredients
- Need a suitable place to do the job
- Required necessary tools
- Need Patience
Difference between chemical fertilizer and homemade organic fertilizer:
You can compare organic and chemical fertilizers based on some parameters. Such as:
Homemade fertilizers are cost-effective and almost accessible.
On the other hand, commercial chemical fertilizers are more expensive.
Homemade fertilizers are environment-friendly. This traditional way of neutralizing soil has continued for thousands of years. It continues without any harmful impacts on the environment.
On the contrary, continuous use of chemical fertilizers can reduce soil fertility. This is because they feed the plants directly and don’t develop the soil structure.
Moreover, chemical fertilizers pollute water sources through rainwater or irrigation water. As a result, using these chemical fertilizers for a long time can destroy the ecosystem.
Organic fertilizers are soil friendly and release nutrients slowly into the ground. They don’t feed the plants directly; instead, they develop the soil structure. Therefore, it helps plants take nutrients from the soil easily.
Conversely, chemical fertilizers feed the plants and don’t develop the soil structure.
Duration of effectiveness:
Organic fertilizer is released slowly and last longer in the soil. So you don’t need to fertilize regularly.
On the other side, chemical fertilizers feed your plants, so they don’t last long in the soil. As a result, you need to maintain a schedule of fertilizing.
Organic fertilizers are the best choice for every home gardener. They are a gift for your garden soil and environment and good for your health. In addition, they produce nutritious, tasty, and juicy fruits that every gardener dreams of.
Another point of view, chemical fertilizer also produces healthy products for a certain period. But they are less tasty comparing the fruits produced from homemade fertilizer.
Which ingredients to avoid making my homemade fertilizer?
- Pets manure like cats and dogs because they are poisonous
- Human Manure
- Any animal manure which is not pure vegetarian
- Bones, meat, cheese, and all dairy products (due to attracts by natural scavengers)
- Chemical products
- Biohazards (animal blood, tissues, animal waste and certain body fluids, human waste, animal or plant pathogens, pathological waste, etc.)
How long does it take to make my homemade fertilizer?
According to your soil test report, you need to start a little earlier if you want to make your homemade fertilizer. Therefore, you must begin composting in the fall to catch up to the following spring season.
Typically, aged compost works better than new compost. Generally, it takes 45 days to 180 days to get good quality compost depending on the ingredients used for your compost pile.
If you are using only kitchen waste, it will take 45 to 90 days to break it down.
On the other hand, if you want to get highly nutrient, best-quality compost. Then, using manures, kitchen garbage, fish head, and other micronutrient ingredients. This gives it a little more time (up to 6 months) to break them into good-quality fertilizer.
How much does it cost to make my organic fertilizer?
Honestly, it is free to produce your homemade organic fertilizer.
You must sort and compile the required ingredients according to your soil test report from your daily household garbage.
Then put those ingredients in your compost pile and let it break down. That’s all you need.
You need more patience and knowledge than money to make your homemade fertilizer.
If you are thinking of growing tomatoes in your backyard, I recommend making your own fertilizer.
As a matter of fact, when you apply chemical fertilizers to feed your tomato plants, ultimately, those chemicals get inside your body through the fruits you produce in your garden.
So I always recommend you use organic fertilizer for your home garden.
Happy tomato gardening!!!
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