Spill the Tea: Fertilize Your Garden With Kitchen Ingredients

In the quest for a healthy garden, many gardeners turn to chemical fertilizers, unaware of the natural alternatives lying within their own kitchens.

What if I told you that banana peels, coffee grounds and some vegetable scraps could be the key to helping your garden thrive? Well, it's true. Homemade fertilizer tea is a simple, sustainable, and effective way to nourish your plants and promote vibrant growth in your garden beds.

The basics

Fertilizer tea is exactly what it sounds like – a nutrient-rich liquid brewed from organic materials. It's a great way to provide your plants with essential nutrients without resorting to harsh chemical fertilizers.

By using kitchen scraps and other organic matter, you can create a homemade solution that not only feeds your plants but also enriches the soil with beneficial microorganisms.

Compost tea versus fertilizer tea

Compost tea and fertilizer tea are similar homemade plant boosters, but they each have their own unique qualities.

Compost tea is all about the good bacteria and microorganisms found in compost, which help make soil healthier and plants stronger. On the other hand, fertilizer tea is made from different kitchen scraps and extras like eggshells or tea bags to give plants a big nutrient boost.

Both can be poured on the soil or sprayed on leaves, but compost tea is like giving plants a healthy snack for their roots, while fertilizer tea is more like a vitamin-packed energy drink.

Benefits of homemade fertilizer tea

Natural nutrients: Everyday kitchen ingredients are packed with the key nutrients that plants use as fuel to grow. By brewing them into tea, you're essentially creating a liquid form of organic compost that's easily absorbed by plant roots.

Chemical free: Unlike store-bought fertilizers, homemade fertilizer tea is free from harmful chemicals and synthetic additives. This means you can nourish your plants without worrying about introducing toxins into your garden ecosystem. With homemade fertilizer tea, you can pick and eat directly from your garden beds without any risk of chemical runoff.

Cost effective: While fertilizer is already inexpensive, homemade fertilizer tea takes cost effectiveness to the next level. It's a great way to allocate your gardening budget towards other essentials like seeds or tools, ensuring that every penny counts.

Soil health: Fertilizer tea not only feeds your plants but also improves the overall health of your soil. By introducing beneficial bacteria and organic matter, it enhances water retention, nutrient absorption and soil structure, leading to healthier plants and a more productive garden.

Best fertilizer ingredients

While these are not the only fertilizer ingredients to use for fertilizer tea, these are the most common and readily available form your kitchen.

  • Banana peels
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Eggshells
  • Epsom salt
  • Black tea

How to make fertilizer tea

1. Gather your ingredients: Collect banana peels, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, and any other organic matter you have on hand.

2. Prepare your base: Fill a large bucket with water. If possible, use fresh water from a clean source like a rain barrel or tap water that has been left out overnight to allow chlorine to evaporate.

3. Add your ingredients: Throw in your banana peels, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps and eggshells, or anything else you have on hand from the list above.

4. Brewing time: During brewing ,fertilizer tea should exhibit bubbling or foaming activity, indicating the presence of aerobic microorganisms. This bubbling activity typically peaks after 12 to 24 hours and once the bubbling activity subsides, it's a sign that the tea is nearing readiness. The tea should become clearer over time as sediment settles to the bottom of the brewing container. While some cloudiness is normal due to suspended organic matter, excessively cloudy or murky tea may indicate incomplete brewing or improper aeration.

5. Testing pH and EC levels: Testing the pH and electrical conductivity (EC) levels of the tea can provide additional insight into its readiness. The pH should ideally fall within a range of 6.5 to 7.5 for most plants, while the EC level can indicate the concentration of nutrients in the tea.

6. Strain and dilute: After 24 hours, strain the mixture to remove any solids and dilute the tea with water, aiming for a ratio of about one part tea to 10 parts water.

7. Application: Use a spray bottle or watering can to apply the fertilizer tea to your plants. Make sure to coat the leaves and soak the soil around the roots for best absorption.

Final thoughts

As you can see, finding the ingredients for fertilizer is not that complicated, but committing to saving, cooking, and using the fertilizer takes effort.

Take your time learning more about fertilizer tea and how it can impact your garden, and make your brew once you feel comfortable.


  • Diane

    I have the same question as Gail and Carol

  • Sandy

    I’m confused, too, about “cooking” the tea. Please clarify. Also, you mentioned compost tea but didn’t tell us how to make it.

  • carol

    I have the same question as Gail – is this a “Sun” brew or do we actually cook it on the stove.
    Do we bring it to a boil? Do we simmer it for 12-24 hours? you say to make it in a bucket, but you also say to "cook"it.

  • Gail

    I’m a little confused. Do I brew on the stove or just let the tea sit?

    Thank you.

  • Brian

    Thank you for the information on fertilizer Tea . I will
    Have to start doing this to help my soil and plants.

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