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Make your own fertilizer

If you want an abundance of colourful flowers or a bumper crop of home-grown vegetables in your garden, fertilizer is a must. But don't reach straight for the chemical option — there are a few home remedies that can help to provide the ground and your plants with more of the nutrients they need, such as phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen. Using a homemade natural fertilizer, you can help your plants truly flourish and take pleasure in your gardening success.

Use grass clippings

In many gardens, grass clippings accumulate to such a level that composting alone is not an adequate disposal method. A useful way to recycle these excess grass cuttings is to use them to mulch flower beds and vegetable patches. This means that moisture stays in the ground longer and supplies plant roots with a slow-release fertilizer. What's more, these cuttings keep the soil looser so that you have to hoe less often. As the grass rots on the beds, it becomes a natural fertilizer for your plants. The grass clippings can be used directly from the catch basket of your lawnmower, as long as it doesn't contain any weeds or grass seeds. To prevent the grass from putrefying, the mulch layer applied should be no more than three to five centimetres high when fresh. It is even better to let the grass wilt a little before using it. Keep the mulch layer dense by topping up with mulch material if necessary.

Miracle product: Used coffee grounds

Used coffee grounds are a well-known miracle plant fertilizer. This is due to their high content of nitrogen, phosphorus, minerals and potassium, which make them a high-quality natural fertilizer. This type of fertilization doesn't even require a lot of effort. Simply collect old coffee grounds, spread on an old newspaper and let them dry out so that the coffee grounds can be spread more easily. Coffee grounds can be used to fertilize beds, potted plants, tub plants and house plants. How often you should use coffee grounds to fertilize a plant depends on the type of plant. House plants can only tolerate coffee once every six months. However, outdoor plants can be fertilized with coffee grounds up to four times a year. The best way to do this is to lightly sprinkle the coffee grounds on the soil surrounding the plant and then gently incorporate them into the earth. For potted plants and tub plants, the coffee grounds can be mixed in with the potting soil when planting. Any leftover coffee grounds can be thinly spread across the compost. Roses, geraniums, angel's trumpets, oleanders, hydrangeas, rhododendrons and azaleas all respond particularly well to coffee grounds as a fertilizer. Last but not least, this environmentally friendly fertilizer attracts earthworms, which loosen the ground and supply the soil and plants with nutrients from their excrement.

Not particularly fragrant but very beneficial

Not quite as fragrant—but still good for roses and all garden plants that require plenty of nutrients—is fertilizer made from horse manure. To prepare this fertilizer, put one shovel of manure into a bucket and fill with water. Then store the mixture somewhere where you can't smell it for three weeks to allow it to develop. You can then dilute the finished liquid manure with water at a ratio of 1:20 and use this to fertilize your roses. But be careful: The mixture develops a very strong, powerful smell! For those who prefer to take shortcuts: Simply dig in the horse manure directly between the roses. 

Aside from liquid horse manure fertilizer, a concoction made from stinging nettles also develops a penetrating smell. Nevertheless, this kind of homemade fertilizer nourishes your plants in a natural manner thanks to its particularly high nitrogen content. To make a stinging nettle liquid fertilizer, cut a kilogram of fresh nettle leaves into small pieces and place in a bucket with approximately ten litres of water. To save water, rainwater is ideal for this fertilizer. You can also mix a small quantity of leaves directly into the soil with the plant or place them in the soil when potting plants. Cover the mixture and allow to steep for around two weeks. Your homemade natural fertilizer is ready once the liquid has darkened in colour and has stopped foaming. Dilute around half a litre of this homemade liquid fertiliser with water in a 10-litre watering can and water your plants with it once or twice a week. This natural fertilizer is beneficial for indoor plants, but also for all beds in the garden, except for beans, peas and onions. It is also beneficial to plants that are sensitive to lice if you lightly spray them with the liquid fertilizer, as this will create a crust of silicates that prevents the lice from piercing the plant cells and sucking them dry. This protection only lasts until the next time it rains and the layer is washed away. 

Water used to cook potatoes is also a natural fertilizer for plants due to the vitamins released into the water during the cooking process. Simply cool the water after cooking and use it to water house plants and garden plants once a week. Mineral water that would be thrown away because it is no longer fresh enough can also be used as a fertiliser. Why not make the most of the water's high mineral content and let it benefit your plants?

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