4 Cost-Effective Organic Garden Fertilizers


4 Cost-Effective Organic Garden Fertilizers

Regardless of what you’re growing, your plants need nutrients. Without fertilizer, your plants will fail to thrive and grow big and strong. In the case of edibles, a lack of nutrients can limit your crop and lead to poor production. Unfortunately, many fertilizers on the market are expensive. Thankfully there are cost-effective organic fertilizers you can use to boost your garden’s productivity.

A word of caution

Before I jump into a list of cost-effective organic fertilizer suggestions, I want to talk a bit about fertilizing in general. Piling on fertilizer will NOT automatically make your garden more lush and productive. Fertilizing without testing your soil first can lead to a host of problems down the road. With fertilizer, more is not always better.

Always test your soil first to find out whether your garden is lacking nutrients. Read up about plant nutrient needs to ensure you’re applying the right fertilizer.

While organic fertilizer is a lot less harmful to the environment than synthetic fertilizer, too much of it can still pose problems, so be cautious! If you think your plants are hungry for nutrients, double check first. They may be stressed or ailing for a different reason.

Organic fertilizers are an excellent alternative to synthetic ones because they help build soil quality over time and improve the soil’s ability to retain nutrients and water. They’re a lot less concentrated, which helps prevent overfertilization—though, it’s still possible with certain commercial options.

Cost-Effective Organic Fertilizers

Fertilizers can be expensive. Organic options are even more so! So what are the options available for a frugal gardener? Here are a few cost-effective organic fertilizers to choose from:

Worm castings. Set up a worm farm or attract worms using a bucket system and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Castings is a nice way of saying poop, but this excrement is mighty powerful! Worm poop is high in nitrogen and full of beneficial microbes and bacteria.

Coco coir. Coconut husks are an inexpensive, earth-friendly alternative to peat moss. While coir doesn’t contain nutrients, it helps condition the soil and improves water and nutrient retention.  It’s also a great mulch option.

Homemade compost. It’s easy to make your own compost at home! You’ll need a balanced mix of kitchen scraps and other materials like dead leaves and grass clippings to get some rotting action going. Over time, the materials break down into a powerhouse of nutrients for your garden.

Seaweed. Sea kelp fertilizer is pricey, but if you live near a shoreline, you can collect your own smelly seaweed, let it rot for a bit, and make a seaweed fertilizer tea. It’s not ideal for people who are sensitive to pungent smells, but it’s a great totally free source of nutrients!

Free Funeral Home Plants


Free Funeral Home Plants

Before you discount the idea of free funeral plants, bear with me on this one. Getting free plants from a funeral home is possible. However, you may have to step out of your comfort zone for this trick. Even those of you who consider yourselves outgoing might feel a bit odd about using a funeral home as a free plant source (This is one of the main reasons I left it out of Ways To Get Plants For Free).

Funeral homes are an excellent place to get free plants because almost everyone has the same initial reaction as you did. Ultimately, this means that in a nation where there is competition for virtually everything, this is one area where hardly a single person is taking advantage.

Almost every town has at least one funeral home and most funerals involve flowers and plants. Years ago, I became aware that many families leave plants and flowers at the funeral home for various reasons. Often, it’s because many people just don’t have the space for all of them at home.

How to Get Free Funeral Plants

Here’s how to set up a local funeral home connection.

The first step is to call the funeral home, introduce yourself, and explain your offer to them. You can solve their problem of what to do with the plants—at no cost to them. If they express any interest at all, leave your name, phone number, and email. You should promise to pick up any plants within 24 hours of a phone call.

If you don’t sense a positive reaction to your offer, ask to speak to a supervisor or owner, and repeat the offer. If that call doesn’t garner some interest, thank them and move on to the next name on your list.

You might be surprised when you get your first return phone call. At this point, ask for specific directions as to when and where to pick up the plants. Follow them to the letter. After the first pick up, follow up with a note to the funeral home, thanking them and giving them your contact information again.

What to do With Your Haul

Once the plants are at home, do some sorting and decide which plants can go outdoors and which are going to become houseplants. Depending on the time of year and the weather in your zone, you can either get your new plants in the ground or treat the whole batch as house plants until you can safely plant them outside.

There may be a few plants in the bunch that has seen better days by the time you get them home. This is nothing to fret about. You can add the plant to your compost pile, put the soil in your container of potting mix and clean up the pot so you can put it to good use.

All in all, you stand to gain many plants for very little effort. It’s all a matter of getting over that first hurdle most people have about dealing with a funeral home.