Plant Fertilizers: Types and Making them Yourself

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plant fertilizers

Plant-based fertilizers often break down more quickly than other organic fertilizers and they offer more nutrients for soil conditioning than actual ones.

Organic fertilizers are garden fertilizers and are more eco-friendly than commercial or synthetic fertilizers because they come from animals, plants, or minerals that are naturally present in the surroundings.

Organic fertilizers do not provide a quick fox as chemical fertilizers.

However, they not only provide nutrients to the crops, but also to the soil and micro-organisms living in the soil.

These beneficial organisms break down the content of the fertilizer in order for the plants to absorb it.

There are different types of organic fertilizers your plants require from which you can choose.

They can be animal-based, plant-based, or minerals.

Moreover, different organic fertilizers provide different nutrients and ingredients to the plants and soil.

Thus, the ingredients you need depend on the quality of the soil and the type of crops you are growing.

This article sums up Plant-based fertilizers, their types, and how you can make them and use them in your farms.

Plant-Based Fertilizers

Plant-based fertilizers are processed organic fertilizers and naturally occurring that includes organic matter like compost, humic acid, grain meal, amino acids, and seaweed.

Additionally, Alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, green manure cover crops, etc are other examples.

plant fertilizers 1

Moreover, decomposing crop residue is another source of fertility for your crops.

Using plant fertilizers means that you are feeding soil microbes that will transform food into nutrients for your crops.

They also act as an effective energy source of soil microbes which in turn improve soil structure and crop growth.

These fertilizers are generally slow-releasing fertilizers and contain many trace elements. They are safer alternatives to chemical fertilizers.

During this, nutrient conversion is fast and works best in biologically active soil that is regularly nourished with different types of organic fertilizers.

This plant food also improves the root growth and of the soil. You can add them as side-dress or spray them on the crops.

Let us discuss different types of fertilizer in detail.

Cottonseed Meal

Cottonseed meal is a by-product of cotton manufacturing and is acidic in nature.

It often varies in formulation and contains 7% nitrogen, 3% pP2O5, and 2% K2o.

plant fertilizers 2

It provides nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and other minor nutrients for your crops over a period of time.


Moreover, it eliminates runoff and promotes vigorous growth of vegetables, landscape plants, and turf.

Due to its slow release time, cottonseed meal is safe to use without harming or possible damage to foliage, promotes healthy foliage, increases crop production, and fosters stunning blooms.

Alfalfa Pellets

Green maturing is a soil-building technique that often eludes in intensive vegetable farms.

You can find alfalfa as food supplements for horses, goats, and other ruminants, and contains enough nitrogen to get your crops rooting fast.

By adding moisture into alfalfa pellets, it triples in size, thus, adding them to the soil is the same as turning under a lush green cover crop.

plant fertilizers 3

Moreover, the nutrients in these are slowly released into the soil, over a period of 3 years, thus there is less risk of burning plant roots.

Some gardeners can mix it along with water and use the green slurry as mulch.


Regardless of soil degradation, the addition of compost can be very beneficial for growing medium for your crops.

Compost enhances the soil increases airflow and water retention.

It also stabilizes the pH levels of the soil, supports essential bacteria, and allows your crops to use the nutrients effectively for healthier growth.

In addition to this, this encourages earthworms, which are beneficial for aerating the soil.


It is made of organic materials that break down the soil, thus enriching its structure and adding the essential nutrients for the healthy growth of crops.

It contains leaves, garden plants, newspaper, straw, manure, and kitchen scraps.

However, the waste for the kitchen should include materials like vegetables, fruit peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, etc.


Molasses is a low-cost feeding of plants and is a by-product of sugarcane, grasp, or sugar beets into sugar.

It contains important vitamins and minerals for the healthy growth of your crops and is a good fertilizer as well.

The process of sugar making undergoes 3 steps and each step yields a type of molasses,

However, blackstrap molasses comes from boiling sugar in the refinement process.


This molasses is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium along with traces of sulfur and a host of other micronutrients.

Using it for your crops provides a quick boost and is a source of energy for your crops and thus, encourages the growth of beneficial micro-organisms in the soil.

Additionally, it helps to fight off pests as well. As it increases the overall vitality of your plants, pest management becomes easy.

Legume Cover Crops

Legume cover crops are important nitrogen-fixing plants for soil health.
Beans and peas are not only legumes however, alfalfa, red clover, fava, vetch, or cowpeas is also a form of it.
These stores nitrogen in the nodules of the roots and harvests nitrogen gas from the air and combine it with hydrogen.
legume cover crops
Thus, this process creates ammonia which through the process of bacteria converts into nitrates which is a usable form of nitrogen.
When tilling these plants into the soil they release nitrogen into the soil as compost.
As a result, it improves the soil and provides supplemental nitrogen which is otherwise used by other plants growth.

Kelp Meal

Kelp seaweed is a type of marine algae that is brown in color and has a huge growth size.

It often contains fish products and encourages healthy plant growth, thus promoting fuller growth of fruits and vegetables and enhancing the overall appearance of the crops.

It contains macro-nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium along with micro-nutrients.

You can find it in 3 forms, these are extracts like kelp meal powder, cold processed or a liquid form, and enzymatically digested liquid forms that are rich in nutrients.

kelp meal

Moreover, this type is very beneficial for the soil, especially if your soil is degraded.

One of the advantages of using it for your crops is that it is a source of 70 vitamins and minerals.

Thus, you can apply it to any type of crop without concern for waste by-products or harmful chemicals.

An important thing to keep in mind is that kelp powder is simply kelp meal ground finely enough to put into a solution.

You can spray or use it as a top dressing onto or inject into irrigation systems. Its NPK ratio is 1-0-4 and is more immediately released.

Making your Own Plant Fertilizers

Crops need three things to survive. These are:

  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • nitrogen

While chemical fertilizers contain all these nutrients, however, you can also provide these nutrients to your plants without using harsh chemicals.

Moreover, you can make plant fertilizers yourself to help protect the environment and humans.

These plant-based fertilizers are not only beneficial for your plants or crops but also for the micro-organism in the soil and the soil itself.

Let us discuss a few fertilizers you can make yourself.

1# Molasses fertilizer

When you make compost tea, it helps to increase microbes in the soil and beneficial bacteria that microbes feed on.

This helps your plants to grow big and healthy.

molasses fertilizer

To make molasses ta, mix 1 to 3 tablespoons of organic molasses into a gallon of water.

Adding this tea once a week to your crops is very beneficial and you can see visible results of using it.

2# Organic Tea Fertilizer

For many centuries, gardeners have used simple tea fertilizers to provide important nutrients to their crops and are easy to make.

Mixing 1/4 cup of Epsom salt into 2 cups of urine, and filling it in a 5-gallon bucket can decrease your grass clippings and even weeds you have to pull from the crops.

Fill the bucket to the top with water and allow the tea to steep for at least 3 days, strain it after 3 days and dilute it by half of water.

You can directly add it to your soil to provide healthy nutrients to your crops.

3# Seaweed Fertilizer

If you live near the sea you can use seaweed for your crops.

It contains mannitol that helps to increase the ability of your plans to absorb nutrients that are naturally found in the soil.

You can either use it in fresh form or in dried form for your crops.

For this, you will need 8 cups of chopped seaweed.

Fill a 5-gallon bucket halfway with water, (you can use rainwater as well) and then add the seaweed.

Let it steep for at least 3weeks and then strain. It stores well for up to three weeks. Then just mix half seaweed tea and half water in a 2-liter bottle and water your plants.

The bottom Line

Organic fertilizers are purpose fertilizers beneficial for the growth of healthy crops, trees and shrubs because they not only are beneficial for the environment but also for the animals and humans that consume them. Moreover, they slowly break down in the soil thus benefiting the micro-organisms in the soil as well as improving soil pH and soil.

Typical organic matter contains plant nutrients and includes mineral sources, animal waste includes manure, guano, and plant-based fertilizers like compost and biosolids. Moreover, using them reduces the necessity of repeated application of fertilizers to maintain soil fertility. Thus, they gradually release nutrients into the soil and maintain the nutrient balance for the healthy growth of crops. Make sure to have a soil test before adding them.

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