Tomato is the number one choice for the 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 lack of information.
You can simply curtain your cost up to 50%, by giving some extra effort and concentration to make your own homemade natural fertilizer and grow your tomatoes from seeds.
In this article, I will explain to you, 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 as well as the ingredients you are using to make the compost.
Usually, tomato plants need basic nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to grow and harvest. Moreover, they need some micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur to get more quality fruits.
If your compost pile contains all the basic nutrients including micronutrients, it will fulfill the demand of your tomato plants.
So, do the soil test first to know the present soil condition. After getting the soil test result make your compost adding all the necessary ingredients which contain the following nutrients.
What are the basic nutrients of fertilizer and how do they work for plants?
Basic 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 growing 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 setting a lot of fruits.
Potassium improves plants growth, plant hardiness, fights diseases and protects plants from insects.
Magnesium plays an important role in the process of photosynthesis which helps the leaves turn into green.
Sulfur provides necessary proteins to the plants. It is needed a small amount, but its deficiency makes a huge threat to the plants.
It develops plants stems and prevents the blossom-end rot of tomatoes.
Which ingredients should I use and what nutrients they contain?
To make the best quality fertilizer for tomatoes you need to ensure all the necessary soil nutrients are present in your homemade fertilizer. Here I show you a list of ingredients that contain the necessary nutrients for your fertilizer.
Ingredients that contain a high level of nitrogen:
Weed: Contain enough nitrogen for your plants.
Grass clippings: These are a good source of nitrogen.
Rabbit poo: It contains a balanced proportion of NPK 2.4-1.4-.6. Therefore, it doesn’t burn the plants ever.
Manure: Aged and composted cow, chicken or horse manures are the best sources of nitrogen and homemade fertilizer.
Corn gluten meal: It comes from corn as a byproduct which contains 10% nitrogen and a good source of soil nutrients. It also used as herbicide so, don’t apply it before seed germination.
Ingredients that contain a high level of phosphorous:
Human urine: It seems a little bit wired but contains an adequate amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium comparatively store brought fertilizer.
Soybeans: This is a good source of phosphorous. One cup of soybeans contains 1309 milligrams of phosphorous.
Kelp meal: 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.
Sesame Seeds: 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.
Lentils: One cup lentils contain around 866 milligrams of phosphorous.
Sunflower seeds: One cup of sunflower seeds contains around 380 milligrams of phosphorous.
Other sources: Navy beans, oats, dried peas, pinto beans, peanuts, and barley are a great source of phosphorous.
Ingredients that contain a good level of potassium:
Banana peels: It is a great source of potassium and other micronutrients.
You can directly apply it to the soil or toss it to the compost pile. Moreover, you can make a liquid form of fertilizer from it. In addition, you can make liquid fertilizer spray and insect trap using this peels.
Orange peels: This is another good source of potassium. It also contains vitamin C (tomatoes like acidic soil) and other micronutrients and traces minerals.
Potato peels: Potato peels contain large amount of potassium. A medium size potato skin contains 600-700 milligrams of potassium.
Cucumbers peels: Cucumbers peel contains medium level of potassium.
Sweet potato skins: Sweet potato skins contain a high level of potassium than normal potato skins.
Wood Ashes: Your fireplaces might be a decent source of potassium and other traces minerals to make organic fertilizer.
Other sources: Cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit, mushrooms, and raisins are a good source of potassium. I suggest you don’t use fresh food for homemade fertilizer unless it is a wastage.
Ingredients that contain micronutrients, organic matters, and traces minerals:
Compost: Your compost pile is the number one nutrients provider to your tomatoes and all other plants. It contains all the basic nutrients including micronutrients and macronutrients which are very essential for tomato plants.
Egg shells: It contains 1% of nitrogen and 93% of calcium carbonate. It helps to develop plant cells as well as plant growth.
Blackstrap molasses: 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.
Seaweed: Increases plants ability to take food from the soil and good additives of organic fertilizer.
Coffee ground: It 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.
Aquarium water: Fish waste liquid will be very good nutrients for your plants if it is not salty.
Cooking water: After boiling, the water of fruits, vegetables, potatoes, eggs, food grains or even pasta can be used as plant nutrients. First, you must let the water cool and then apply it directly to the plants or compost pile.
Epsom Salts: It contains magnesium which helps to produce stronger plants, enough bloom, healthy harvest and sweeter taste in tomatoes.
Hair: Pet and human hair work better as tomato fertilizer. It contains keratin, nitrogen, sulfate and other traces minerals.
Alfalfa: This is kind of an herb commonly used to feed livestock. Dried Alfalfa is a great source of organic tomato fertilizer.
Fish emulsion: This is a liquid form of fertilizer which contains basic nutrients NPK including other micronutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and sulfur.
Besides, it works quickly comparatively compost fertilizer. You can apply it directly to your plants.
Fish head: Fish head is an excellent source of nutrients for any type of plants. It contains calcium, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other essential micronutrients.
You can also apply it directly to the transplanting holes or toss to 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 contains 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. You don’t need to be 100% accurate to apply homemade fertilizer in your garden soil.
But I recommend you to 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 additional nutrient supply
- Increase your confidence level to make your own fertilizer in future
How to determine which additives do I need most?
No matter whatever you grow in your backyard, do the soil test first. It will help you to determine which ingredients you need most and the present soil condition.
You can easily get a cheap soil test kit form your local garden centers or online stores. If you found difficulties, then 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 you the present soil condition, nutrient deficiency, and soil (pH) level. If your soil holds less nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium or any other nutrients, add those ingredients more which contain these type of nutrients.
As 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 need to add some ingredients in your compost pile which contain a high level of potassium such as banana peels or wood ashes to keep balance in your fertilizer.
How to make high nutrients organic fertilizer for tomatoes at home?
It would be nice if you follow your soil test report to make your homemade fertilizer. Apply the same amount of 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 nutrients ratio like (NPK) of 5-10-15, which means it contains 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphate and 15% potash.
To calculate the lb of the nutrients, multiply 50 by each value. Such as:
Measuring nitrogen: 50 multiply by 0.05 = 2.5-lb
Measuring phosphorous: 50 multiply by 0.10 = 5-lb
Measuring potassium: 50 multiply 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. The rest of the weight may fill with sand, granular limestone and other particles.
How to make homemade fertilizer measuring the nutrients value like commercial fertilizers?
When it comes to measuring your homemade fertilizer nutrients, a 6-gallon container or bucket is similar to 50-lb fertilizer bag.
Now for example, if your soil test result recommends a nutrients (NPK) ratio of 6-12-12 for your garden soil, what will you do?
Firstly, I recommend getting a 6-gallon container (similar to a 50-lb fertilizer bag) for a better measurement.
Calculating the lb of the nutrients, multiply 50 by each value. Such as:
Measuring nitrogen: 50 multiply by 0.06 = 3-lb
Measuring phosphorous: 50 multiply by 0.12 = 6-lb
Measuring potassium: 50 multiply by 0.12 = 6-lb
Fill the container with 6lb ingredients that contain nitrogen, 12-lb ingredients that contain phosphorous and 12-lb ingredients that contain potassium.
The reason for adding the ingredients double because it converted half or lower of its weight when it breaks down and turn into nutrients.
In addition, add some micronutrient ingredients around 10-lb, which contain calcium, magnesium, and sulfur as your plants required. Fill the rest of the container with fresh and diseases free garden soil.
[[[Note: The nutrient value of your homemade fertilizer doesn’t need to be 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 micronutrients 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 multiply 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 multiply 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 multiply 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 multiply 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 plants?
The best way to apply organic compost when you transplant your tomato plants.
Dig holes for each tomato plants and fill them up 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 proper place to do the job
- Required necessary tools
- Need Patience
Difference between chemical fertilizer and homemade organic fertilizer:
You can compare organic and chemical fertilizer based on some parameters. Such as:
Homemade fertilizers are cost-effective and almost free.
On the other hand, commercial chemical fertilizers are more expensive.
Homemade fertilizers are environment-friendly. This is the traditional way to neutralize soil that continues thousands of years and still going on without any bad impacts on the environment.
On the contrary, continuous using of chemical fertilizer can reduce soil fertility. They feed the plants directly and don’t develop the soil structure.
Moreover, chemical fertilizer polluted water sources through rainwater or irrigation water. As a result, after using these chemical fertilizers for a long time can destroy the ecosystem.
Organic fertilizers are soil friendly and release nutrients slowly into the soil. They don’t feed the plants directly rather develop the soil structure. Therefore, it helps the plants taking nutrients from the soil easily.
Conversely, chemical fertilizers feed the plants directly and don’t develop the soil structure.
Duration of effectiveness:
Organic fertilizer released slowly and last longer in the soil. So you don’t need to fertilize regularly.
On the other side, chemical fertilizer directly feed your plants so they don’t last long in the soil. As a result, you need to maintain schedule fertilizing.
Organic fertilizers are the best choice for every home gardener. They are not only a gift for your garden soil and environment but also good for your health and produce nutritious, tasty and juicy fruits that every gardener dream.
Another point of view, chemical fertilizer also produces healthy production for a certain period. But they are less testy 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?
You need to start a little bit earlier if you want to make your homemade fertilizer according to your soil test report. Therefore, you have to start composting in the fall to catch up the next spring season.
Typically, aged compost works better than new compost. In general, it takes 45 days to 180 days to get good quality compost depends on the ingredients you are using for your compost pile.
If you are using only kitchen waste, it will take 45 days to 90 days to break it down.
On the other hand, if you want to get highly nutrient best quality compost using manures, kitchen garbage, fish head, and other micronutrients ingredients, give it a little more time (up to 6 months) to break them down into good quality fertilizer.
How much does it cost to make my organic fertilizer?
Truly, it is free to produce your homemade organic fertilizer.
You just need to 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 to break it down. That’s all you need.
Actually, 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, you should make your own fertilizer.
As a matter of fact, when you apply the 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 to use organic fertilizer for your home garden.
Happy tomato gardening!!!
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