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4 Ways to Make Your Own Fertilizer

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Store bought fertilizer can be expensive and full of far too many chemicals. Thankfully, with a little ingenuity, you can make your own fertilizer. 

1) Backyard Composting

There are a couple different approaches to backyard composting. For example, if you like quicker, consistent results, try gourmet composting. Gourmet composting focuses on layering just the right organic materials to create an ideal mixture of nitrogen, carbon, water, and air. 

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Gourmet composters recommend that you layer your compost as follows: browns (leaves or wood chips), greens (grass and plants), kitchen scraps (use fruits, veggies, and flowers but never use meat scraps or dairy), and soil. Repeat these layers as needed.

For many of us, keeping up with a gourmet compost pile just sounds a little too intimidating. If that’s you, a causal compost pile might be the thing for you. Simply throw your kitchen scraps and any other organic matter such as leaves and grass clippings in your compost pile. Worms will soon set up house in there and help breakdown the matter. In a few months, you’ll have compost.

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Curious about what you can put in a compost pile? Start with veggie and fruit scraps. If you want to get even more serious about it, check out this list http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/81-things-you-can-compost of little known compost items. 

2) Indoor Composting

I currently live in a 3rd floor apartment, so backyard composting is out of the question. I have, however, been toying with the idea of indoor composting. Here’s how it works. Buy an indoor compost bin or use a plastic storage bin or bucket. Put compostable materials in the bin: fruits, veggies, coffee grounds, etc. Avoid using overly smelly items such as onions and garlic in your indoor compost bin. Add a handful of shredded paper or dry leaves to your bin every time you add food. Stir your bin often. Be patient. You’ll soon have your own compost! 

3) Vermicomposting

I always look back fondly on the summer that I spent caring for worms and children. Let me explain. I taught a children’s nature program at McLaughlin Garden when I was 18. We spent the summer learning about many exciting topics, but one whole week was dedicated to vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting uses worms in large bins to breakdown your food waste quickly and effectively. It’s a bit too complicated to explain here but follow this link http://home.howstuffworks.com/vermicomposting.htm for more information. 

4) Little Known Fertilizers

Even if you don’t compost, you can still use scraps around your kitchen as fertilizer. For example, instead of throwing out those coffee grounds or tea leaves, spread them around your houseplants or in your garden. Or try adding eggshells to your watering can. Karley Estes has another, even simpler tip, “Use the leftover water from boiling your eggs and water your plants with that. Just wait for it to cool first!”

Happy fertilizing! 

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