Three ‘satisfying’ ways to make your own ‘cost effective’ plant fertiliser at home

Gardening tips: Can you reuse pot compost

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When you think of garden fertiliser, store-bought chemical products may be the first thing to spring to mind. However, there are plenty of natural ways you can make your own plant food for a cut of the price.

According to Shannon Keary, @DiaryofaLadyGardener on Instagram and the voice behind the Diaries of a Lady Gardener podcast, making your own fertiliser can be rather “satisfying”, as well as eliminate waste from your home.

Having spent the last year exploring “alternatives” to traditional fertiliser, Ms Keary shared three of her favourite methods exclusively with Express.co.uk.

Not only can making your own fertiliser save money, but the gardening influencer also cites it as an opportunity to get “creative” in the journey towards learning more about your plants.

She said: “It’s really satisfying knowing exactly what you’re putting into the soil rather than picking something up off the shelf that you don’t completely understand.

“It has really helped me to learn more about soil and plant nutrition first hand.

“Most of the time it can be really cost-effective, and yield better results than many products you buy straight off the shelf.

“And finally, it’s a great way to combat your food waste and really help to reduce the amount you’re sending to landfill or other places that you have no idea what is happening to your waste.”

However, before embarking on your journey, Ms Keary warns beginners not to get caught out by certain home fertiliser kits.

She explained: “The only thing to watch out for is that there are lots of expensive products you can buy to ‘make it easy’ to start creating your own natural fertiliser, but you can totally make your own DIY version for free or a fraction of the cost if you get creative.”

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Three ways to make your own fertiliser at home

Start your own worm farm

Worm farming is a way to dispose of unwanted food waste and produce a liquid fertiliser.

Certain food scraps can be placed in the worm farm, and special worms eat their way through it.

Ms Keary said: “I’ve joined the #1000wormfarmers movement last year, where the worms turn my food waste into a super nutrient-dense compost which I can add to beds, and a liquid which can be diluted as a liquid feed.

“They live at the allotment in my shed and although it takes three to four months to be ready to use, it’s a real game-changer for fantastic, free fertiliser which is high in nitrogen and potassium.”

Though she says you can “feed the words pretty must anything” she warns that food waste can’t be too acidic.

She added: “It makes it a great place for your food waste and they’re really easy to keep happy and healthy.

“I hope to scale up my worm farm later this year for extra goodness.”

Invest in a Bokashi bin

A bokashi bin is a Japanese system that pickles your waste. Translated directly, bokashi means fermentation.

Typically you will need two bins, both of which can be kept indoors and are great for small spaces.

You also need special bran which is infused with good bacteria to help the process.

This is the most recent method Ms Keary is trialling, but so far she says it is “great”.

She explained: “I can keep it in my kitchen like a standard food waste caddy except it doesn’t smell anywhere near as bad.

“Whilst the compost and worms are a great option, my allotment is a 20-minute drive away so it’s a good solution for those without direct outdoor space.

“You can add pretty much any food waste with inoculated bran and in the container; it all ferments and breaks down producing a liquid fertiliser that is high in nitrogen. This can be diluted and used on all plants, then after around two weeks you can bury the contents of the bin in a compost heap or in the garden for it to continue breaking down and feeding the soil.”

Use food scraps to make compost

From eggs to banana peels, using leftover food scraps is a traditional way to reuse waste products as compost.

Ms Keary explained: “I also make my own compost on the allotment with extra food scraps, plant debris and weeds, but I’m a little more precious about what goes in here, keeping my heap to a ‘vegan’ diet and free from any weed seeds – this is my best option for making goodness for the soil in quantity.

“This can then be used as a mulch to top up and feed my no-dig beds each year.

“No-dig helps to feed the soil without such a need for constant feeding/fertilising, allowing the natural ecosystems to do their thing without too much interference from us.

“By not digging into their habitat, and adding organic matter each year, you can improve the fertility of the soil, improve the structure, benefit the micro-organisms and help suppress weeds.

“In simple terms, by doing less, we can achieve more with no-dig.”

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