Natural fertilisers and pesticides are great alternatives to synthetic and inorganic chemicals. Natural and organically made fertilisers and pesticides are essential to protect biodiversity, the environment, beneficial organisms in the growing spaces, and ecosystem functioning. Moreover, these are essential to produce high-quality, safe, and nutritionally rich food on a sustainable basis.
Did you know that, on average, families throw away 500kg of kitchen waste annually? This could be made into a valuable source of nutrients for your plants.
Making Natural Fertilisers
If you have little or no room for a compost bin, there is an alternative. You can easily make natural fertilisers at home using kitchen waste, fallen leaves, twigs, branches, and food leftovers. These materials are rich sources of nutrients and minerals, and their proper decomposition under controlled conditions helps make good quality and safe to use fertilisers. In addition, it is simple to do. First, dig a hole 30 – 40cm deep (no more, as the composting process requires air) where you want to create the fertiliser, put the vegetable matter into the hole, then cover it up with soil. There is nothing easier.
Digging an optimal size hole is an important step in the making of natural fertilisers. The site must be free from contaminants, insects, and pests; otherwise, fertilisers’ quality will be negatively affected. At the same time, the area must also be away from the reach of children.
Banana peels are good sources of potassium and can be added to the hole. All fruits – apple cores, peels, orange peel – these are all great to use. Cutting these peels into smaller pieces will even promote the process of decomposition. Teabags are great (make sure they are compostable – see our article)
Lime can also be used as a significant component of natural fertiliser as it helps to reduce the acidity of growing soil and provides calcium for plant growth and development. Some advocate using eggshells as a source of calcium. I don’t because the eggshells do not break down and decompose, and there is evidence to suggest that they do not actually add much to the soil. I used to add them to my compost, but I was not pleased with the result. I had great compost, full of broken eggshells.
Coffee grounds can be used as natural fertilisers either alone or after proper mixing with other decomposing material in the hole. In addition, coffee grounds significantly improve soil health and boost up the growth of acid-loving plants. Our local Waitrose has a container outside the door to help yourself to coffee grounds from their café. (I expect other cafes would happily give you their coffee grounds if you asked them, as well).
Fallen leaves are also important in making natural fertilisers as they contain good trace minerals and elements. These leaves can be directly incorporated into the soil or added to the composting hole for decomposition.
Animal and bird manure is also an excellent approach to add macronutrients and micronutrients to the soil. The use of raw manure is not recommended as it may cause the burning of growing plants. However, composted material is odour-free and offers more benefits.
You can use kitchen waste and grass clippings to make high-quality fertilisers. Using these natural fertilisers dramatically improves the water holding capacity and nutrient provision ability of soil, and thus you can obtain excellent growth and development of your plants.
Soft fruit etc. will break down after a few weeks – the tough stuff like onions will take longer. However, this should all turn into excellent nutrient-rich compost within a couple of months. In winter, it will take longer due to the cooler temperatures.
Bonus: Making Natural Pesticides for Improved Plant Growth
Pepper, onion, and garlic are essential for natural pesticides as they contain certain compounds possessing insect pest repelling properties. You can use a combination of garlic and onion, and pepper, as per their availability and ease of use.
You should chop these vegetables in a food processor or blender. Blend or pulse the mixture until it becomes a chunky and thicker paste.
Add the prepared paste to the 500 ml of warm water (preferably rainwater). Stir the ingredients thoroughly to ensure homogenisation.
Add the prepared solution to any glass jar or container and allow it to stand for 24 hours. (You can also use plastic containers instead of glass containers).
Place the container in a sunny locations or at any warm place.
Strain the mixture by using a filter to remove vegetables and residues.
This water can be used as a natural pesticide to eliminate the insects and pests in the gardens and growing spaces.
You can reuse the collected vegetables for composting.
Add this pesticide to a spray bottle. It is important to ensure that the bottle is free from contaminants, so it should be washed thoroughly using soap or detergent. Then, use a funnel to transfer the pesticide solution to the bottle without any spillage or wasting.
Benefits of Using Natural Fertilizers and Pesticides
Natural fertilisers and pesticides are essential to cut the higher costs associated with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Still, it is also helpful to improve the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil. Furthermore, natural fertilisers do not negatively affect soil biota; thus, soil health remains good to support the solubilities and bio-availabilities of nutrients.
For more information or assistance with this article, or if you want to add something that you feel is relevant, we would love to hear from you via the Contact Us page