Household Items That Can Be Used as Organic Fertilizer

Guest post by RamboMoe who blogs at Prepared For That.

Your garden may have succumbed to winter temperatures but now is a great time to start a compost pile for next spring and setting aside items to use as organic fertilizer. This article contains some great suggestions to get you started.

image by Living Off Grid

This is a guide to common materials that can be used as an organic fertilizer for your garden. Fertilizers made with synthetic chemicals have a lot of negative side effects- they mess with the ecosystem of the soil, they are harmful to people and pets, and they are damaging to the environment. Fertilizing your garden organically is a good move, and this article will help you learn to do that.


Plants need certain nutrients to live and grow. To get these nutrients, they take them out of the soil. This leads to a depletion of nutrients in the soil, and fertilizer is used to replace these nutrients.

There are 3 main groups of nutrients that plants need in the soil:

  1. Primary nutrients (which plants need in large quantities): Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K).
  2. Secondary nutrients (which plants need in smaller quantities): Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfur (S).
  3. Micronutrients (which plants only need in trace amounts): Zinc (Zn), Iron (Fe), Boron (B), Manganese (Mn), Chlorine (Cl) and Molybdenum (Mo).

If a plant doesn’t receive these nutrients in the amounts they need, they will not reach their full potential, and may even die. For your garden plants to be their best, a constant supply of fertilizer is a must.


Here are some common materials that can make a great fertilizer. Some provide a very balanced mix of nutrients, and others will give you a few specific nutrients where you can target a deficiency.

Material from Compost
The single best thing you can do for your garden is to build a compost heap and use it to supply you with a great fertilizer. Composted material will supply your garden with a very good mix of the nutrients it needs. For best results, make sure you put both green materials (things like kitchen scraps, which are high in nitrogen) and brown material (things like dried leaves and shredded cardboard, that are high in carbon).

A cool variation on the traditional compost heap is worm composting. Adding certain worms to your compost will help break the organic material down quicker, so where a normal compost heap would take months, a worm composter will take mere weeks.

Chicken Droppings
The um… leftovers from chickens don’t have to be just a smelly mess. Their droppings can be used as an effective, fairly balanced fertilizer for your garden. If you have them as pets, don’t let this valuable resource go to waste!

Coffee Grounds
Dried coffee grounds can be sprinkled into your soil to supply nitrogen, potassium and magnesium. Remember though that they will increase the pH of your soil.

Ash from Your Fireplace
Fireplace ashes can be sprinkled onto your soil to supply potassium and calcium carbonate. This too will increase the pH of your soil.

Epsom Salt
Epsom salt can be added to your soil to supply magnesium and sulfate. This is especially important with tomatoes, potatoes, and roses.

Powdered Egg Shells
These can be sprinkled onto your soil to increase calcium carbonate (also known as “lime”).

Mixing seaweed and water and letting it sit or a few months will supply you with a fertilizer high in potassium.

Pine Needles
Adding these will supply nitrogen. They will also decrease the pH of your soil.
Using these common items as fertilizer for your soil will give you a cheap and easy alternative to synthetic chemical fertilizers, and in a small way help to make the world a healthier place.

Good luck and stay prepared!

Visit RamboMoe’s blog, Prepared For That, where he often writes helpful how-to articles.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

(2) Readers Comments

  1. One clarification: Coffee grounds, decrease the pH of your soil, make it more acidic. Wood ashes increase the pH, make it less acidic. I think this is what the author meant, it’s just gets tricky to word because we tend to think of acidity rather than alkalinity, and the pH scale is low on the acid end and high on the alkaline end. I always have to remind myself that high pH is low acid and vice versa.

  2. Put it all in the compost, mix it up and you’ll be off to a good start. Egg shells, coffee grounds, ash, shredded newspaper, chicken droppings, grass clippings, saw dust. They add up fast and make for great compost. Variety is important.

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