Have you ever heard of someone putting something crazy in their garden soil because they think it makes the soil richer or more fertile?
Adding weird odds and ends into your garden soil is a practice that used to be more common before everyone had access to modern fertilizers – and it’s still going strong in some organic gardening communities.
Here’s a list of 9 things I found that people actually add to their garden soil to make their plants grow better. What do you think… fertilizer or fake?
Have you ever noticed how bad coffee grounds smell when they sit in your trash can for a day or two? They can get pretty stinky.
Some gardeners think it’s better to skip the trash can and put your coffee grounds straight into your garden soil.
And they’re probably right!
Coffee grounds contain a large amount of nitrogen. Whether you want to plant grass or grow tomatoes, they will make it go faster. They also contain phosphorus and potassium. That’s all three of the key ingredients in fertilizer, so it really does make sense to add your coffee grounds to your soil.
In addition to feeding your plants, coffee grounds encourage beneficial microorganisms – and they can even attract earthworms.
Some people go to coffee shops just to get big buckets of used grounds to add to their gardens and compost piles. I mean, think about how many grounds they go through in just one day at Starbucks!
If you live in a Western climate, you probably have alkaline soil – which can be really tough on plants. Fresh coffee grounds are acidic, and when you use them as a fertilizer, they can temporarily lower the pH of your garden soil.
What is fish fertilizer? Well, think of something like a “fish milkshake.” Sound gross? It is!
But for as bad as fish emulsion smells, it sure does make plants happy.
There are several different types of fish fertilizer that are available in stores, and you can probably find some at a hardware store or garden center near you. But, if you don’t mind the thought of cutting up a dead fish, you can make your own fish fertilizer at home.
Let me warn you, this is not a task for the faint of heart. Depending on the method you use, you may have to put your dead fish in a blender, let it ferment, and actually boil it. Definitely don’t try this in your kitchen if you’re expecting company later…
Do you know a fisherman? If you know anyone who goes fishing on the weekends, they can probably give you all the fish you need. Just ask them. Any fish that they can legally keep will do just fine.
In fact, you don’t even need a whole fish. If your fisherman friend can bring you the guts, heads, and organs of any fish they clean – those will work just fine.
Well, don’t just walk out and start urinating in your garden. That would not help your soil, but it would definitely get your neighbors talking.
But seriously, some people do use urine to feed plants and improve their garden soil. The typical person’s urine is 11% nitrogen, which means that urine is actually a pretty strong fertilizer. So, it works.
But the real question is… can you get past the “Yuck!” factor?
If you don’t mind the thought of it, it’s easy to do. You just urinate into a container like a jar, jug, or bottle. You dilute the urine with water by a ratio of 10:1 (10 parts water, 1 part urine). And then you pour it on your soil to fertilize your plants. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s a short video to show you how it’s done:
Is it safe? Mostly. If you have a urinary tract infection or any other infection in your tender parts – skip it. Better safe than sorry. And don’t do this if you’re on medications – you don’t want to add those prescription drugs to your garden soil!
Seaweed and garden soil couldn’t possibly have anything in common, right? Wrong.
It turns out that seaweed is great for the garden. It contains trace amounts of magnesium, zinc, iron, and nitrogen.
Unless you live near an ocean, you’ll have to buy your seaweed at the store. There are many different products available like powdered seaweed and even liquid concentrates.
Seaweed can be added to the soil, but it’s especially beneficial to spray a seaweed solution on plant leaves.
If you’re a gardener, you probably already know what compost is. But have you heard of aerobic compost tea?
One of the best features of fresh compost is that it is full of the tiny microorganisms that make soil healthy and fertile. Nothing is better for your dirt than these busy little bugs. Making your own compost takes time, and it can be expensive to buy enough compost from your whole garden from the store. But there’s a shortcut!
Compost tea is a way to multiply all of those beneficial little bugs and then pour them straight into your garden soil.
If there’s an organic garden center near you, you might be able to buy some. Don’t worry if you can’t find any for sale, because you can make your own compost tea at home just a few simple tools and ingredients.
This next garden “tea” is so simple that anyone can make it. All you need is a little alfalfa. Place the alfalfa in a jug or bottle, fill it with water, and set it in the sun to ferment. It’s just like making “sun tea".
You can use any kind of alfalfa – fresh, dried, or pellets. And you only need to use about 1 cup of alfalfa for each 1 gallon of water.
How will you know when it’s done? It’ll smell so bad that it’ll make your eyes water – that’s how!
Seriously, this stuff smells bad.
But alfalfa tea is great for plants and great for your soil. It’s a good source of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc… the list goes on.
The last tea on this list is worm tea. Worm tea is not made from worms – it is made from worm poop – or, vermicastings, as they’re technically called.
Worm tea is basically the same thing as aerobic compost tea, except you brew fresh worm poop instead of brewing fresh compost. Lots of people like to add both, and it’s fairly easy to do at home. You don’t even need a shovel for digging, because these worms are grown in a worm farm.
While it might sound gross, worm tea actually doesn’t smell very bad – believe it or not. Here’s a short video to show you how it’s done:
When someone says, “rabbit pellets,” they could actually be talking about two different things. There are rabbit pellets that go in the front end of the rabbit, and then there are rabbit pellets that come out of the back end of the rabbit.
So which one are we talking about right now? You guessed it! The back end.
Rabbit manure makes an excellent fertilizer. If you have any way to get your hands on some fresh rabbit manure, take as much of it as you can get… and wear gloves, of course… maybe 2 pairs…
Rabbit manure will make your garden soil loose, rich, and easy to work – even if you don’t own a garden tiller.
Most animal manures need to be composted for weeks or months before they’re safe to use in the garden. But rabbit poop is safe to use right away, exactly as it is.
What is humanure? It’s a concatenation of the words “human,” and “manure.” It’s human manure.
Obviously, lots of people think this is the grossest thing you could ever put in your garden. But, believe it or not, there are plenty of people who are doing this.
It’s a fairly complicated process, and not one you should dive into (pun intended) without some research. While humanure does contain valuable soil nutrients, there is some degree of risk involved that must be managed and mitigated. If you’re determined to give it a try, be sure to check out the free Humanure Handbook.
Those are the weirdest things I have found that people add to their garden soil. Most of them work. A few of them are gross.
Do you add anything weird or gross to your garden soil? If so, leave a message in the comments section below to let me know what it is. If you come up with something really weird, I’ll add it to the list!
Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.
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