Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 01:47 pm

By Greta Goosen, Head of Client Services at MiWay Insurance

Considering the uncertain economic climate in which we find ourselves, ‘waste not, want not’ has become the national mantra

Rather than incurring unnecessary expense by stocking up on store-bought fertiliser, why not make your own using waste material and pantry staples?

Organic DIY fertiliser is easy to make and can help you to avoid harmful chemicals that could compromise home-grown fruits, vegetables and herbs

With winter in the wings, it is now important to prepare your garden for the months ahead, pruning where necessary and planting seedlings so as to reap optimal rewards come springtime. If you want to see your garden in full bloom when September rolls around, fertiliser is a must and should be applied liberally ahead of the encroaching season.

Given the restrictions currently placed on some of the pleasures we once enjoyed, a return to simplicity seems likely – and gardening represents both a therapeutic and rewarding way to pass the time. With gardening and swimming pool services out of the question for the time being, now is the perfect time to re-engage those green fingers and to show your garden a little TLC.

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Here are some easy ways to create your own fertiliser and keep your garden in tip-top shape:

Key ingredients

The three key ingredients in any home-made fertiliser are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, each of which plays a vital role in the overall health of your garden. Nitrogen is the nutrient plants use most to grow large and lush, while phosphorus is needed to promote strong and healthy root systems that promote vigorous flowering. Potassium, meanwhile, aids in growth, protein production and overall hardiness.

Home recipes to get you going

Coffee grounds and grass clippings tea

Yes, your garden can benefit from a cuppa every now and then. Coffee grounds add a healthy dose of nitrogen to your soil and can be particularly useful in promoting the growth of roses, hydrangeas, magnolias and vegetables.

Grass clippings can also be put to work in the form of a home-made tea, which is created by adding fresh clippings to a five-gallon bucket and adding water before leaving to ‘brew’ for five days. Once ready, pour ten cups of fresh water and one cup of ‘tea’ over your soil, which will help to reinvigorate it with essential nutrients.


Rich in potassium, calcium and phosphorus, bananas make a perfect fertiliser alternative for flowering plants, fruit trees and house plants. Banana peels can be buried in the soil at the base of your plants, and simply allowed to decompose over time, thus enriching the soil bed. Overripe bananas can also be frozen and then buried next to your plants. Furthermore, you can create a DIY plant spray by soaking banana peels in water for three days – this is a particularly effective remedy for house plants.

Egg shells

Rather than throwing out your used egg shells, transform them into a calcium-rich fertiliser, which can help you to avoid disasters like blossom end rot on tomatoes. To do so, simply crush up used egg shells and bury them in the soil, or create a spray using 20 egg shells and a gallon of water. Boil the shells in the water for a few minutes and leave overnight, before straining and adding to a spray bottle.

Bone meal fertiliser

Upcycle your leftovers the easy way by creating your own organic bone meal fertiliser, which is particularly effective when it comes to tomatoes and many other blooming plants. It is made by boiling well-cleaned chicken bones for two days (being sure to turn off the stove at night), which renders them soft and easy to grind with water in a blender. Once ground, you can add the solution to the soil under your plants.

How to become a pro gardener during lockdown

Make your own mulch

Leaves are rich with trace minerals and can make heavy soils lighter. So rather than bagging up your Autumn leaves, collect them for your garden instead. You can either till them in your soil or use them as a mulch, which can aid in the fertilisation process and hinder the growth of unwelcome weeds.

Fireplace ash fertiliser

A great source of calcium carbonate and potassium, fireplace ash can simply be added to the garden bed and gently massaged into the soil. Ash is best used to promote growth of alkaline-loving plants such as lavender, rosemary and thyme and should be avoided if you are looking to fertilise acid-loving plants like azaleas and daffodils.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and this unprecedented crisis affords us a unique opportunity to get a little creative in our gardens. So make sure to utilise this time wisely to upskill, upcycle and develop more sustainable systems in your home.