I’ve successfully turned my entire front yard into an organic vegetable garden. I used 100% natural fertilizer with GREAT success and saved a ton of money. After weeks of research, I discovered the 12 best types of natural fertilizer out there.
What is the best natural fertilizer? From my own vegetable garden experience, the very best natural fertilizer that makes my veggies grow fast is a combination of human urine and wood ash. These 2 together make my plants grow bigger, faster, and produce gorgeous vegetables that taste amazing.
Those aren’t the only options for natural fertilizer out there! There are 12 total natural fertilizer examples listed below that work extremely well on my veggies. I never ever use chemicals or anything toxic in my organic garden!
The 12 Best Natural Fertilizers List
- Human Urine
- Wood Ash
- Food Scraps
- Epsom Salt
- Fruit Peels
- Chicken Manure
- Coffee Grounds
- Peanut Shells
- Organic Trace Minerals
DISCLAIMER: Just because the above listed fertilizers work great for my garden doesn’t mean they’ll work great for everyone. Always consult a medical doctor before putting urine on your garden and consult with a garden specialist before trying any of the above fertilizers. All plants have different needs; please attend to them carefully and individually.
1. Human Urine Natural Fertilizer
* Fair Warning: I’m not recommending that you use human urine on your garden just because I do. You should check with both your doctor and local garden specialist before trying. Some people take medication or have diseases you might not want in your soil.
I don’t take any medication, have been a vegetarian my whole life, exercise regularly, and don’t use any drugs. So I feel comfortable putting urine in my garden.
In healthy people, normal urine is sterile. It works like magic for me.
Human urine makes my plants grow wild crazy! In my opinion, it’s the BEST natural fertilizer liquid on the entire planet. When I put it on my slow-growing broccoli plants, they started to form heads within a week!
The secret is not to burn the plants, so I made sure to dilute the urine.
HOW TO MAKE URINE FERTILIZER
How I dilute, pour, and measure urine for fertilizer:
- ¾ cup urine (that’s 0.2 liters)
- Dilute in a reasonable amount of water to pour over 1 square foot of soil.
- Pour directly over an area of 1 square foot around base of plant.
- For smaller plants with roots contained in half that area, cut the amount of urine and water in half.
- Pour evenly over the entire area.
I mix these 2 ingredients in a watering can and pour over the soil at the base of my vegetable plants. Depending on the type of vegetable and pH of the soil, I’ll apply the diluted urine one time every 1-3 weeks once they’re at least 3 weeks old (don’t fertilize seedlings). I carefully observe the plants each week to see how they respond.
* Consult your local nursery and garden specialist to determine how often your plants require fertilizer. Each plant has different needs. The above recipe is just a basic guideline for garden veggies that grow above ground. Generally, when plant growth slows down, or the leaf tips show a hint of yellow color, it might be time to fertilize again (depending on the plant and situation, of course).
When in doubt, be conservative. It’s better to under fertilize to avoid the risk of harming plants. Don’t use too much urine!!!
I only fertilize my plants after they’ve been growing for 3 weeks. The plants can get burned if you use too much urine, that’s why you need to measure it and be careful.
Caution: Make sure the type of plant you’re putting this fertilizer on will benefit from a high nitrogen fertilizer. All plants have different nutrient requirements. Consult your local garden specialist when in doubt.
HUMAN URINE FERTILIZER RULE:
¾ cup urine per square foot of soil.* (always dilute in water)
I found that human urine is the very best fertilizer for broccoli plants, according to my own gardening experience.
A study showed that human urine was as good, or BETTER, than commercial fertilizer when used to grow okra. 1 It also increased nutrient uptake.
It’s important to get the concentration of urine correct. Not enough probably won’t do much. Too much could burn the plants! Be careful and stay alert. It’s always wise to start with a lower concentration and reduced application frequency until you see how the plants respond. Patience is a virtue.
Human urine alone, I’ve found, isn’t the best for root vegetables because it encourages leafy growth above the ground. For example, my beets didn’t do as well with urine, but the leafy greens on the beets flourished amazingly well! I just ate more beet greens that year. For most garden vegetables that grow above ground, I found urine to be the very best!
2. Wood Ash in Garden
I use the leftover ash in my fireplace as a wonderful natural fertilizer for my vegetable garden. All winter, I save the ash and put it in bags for spring.
A study showed that wood ash mixed with human urine gave a better yield of red beets than commercial mineral fertilizer did. 2 That’s quite a powerful study. So I tried it, and it worked!
My own gardening experience taught me that urine alone increases leafy growth of my veggies above the ground. But when I use both urine and wood ash, it increases the growth of my root vegetables (such as beets, carrots, and radishes).
What fertilizer is high in calcium? Wood ash is high in calcium. It acts sort of like lime fertilizer. Eggshells are also high in calcium (see section below). A smaller percent of other minerals found in wood ash include:
It also contains many different micro-elements and trace minerals commonly found in a multivitamin.
Wood ash can be mixed with compost to make a nutrient-rich fertilizer. It’s one of the best garden tricks that’s been used for thousands of years with great success. Why spend money when we can use what nature gives us?
3. Food Scraps and Kitchen Waste Directly into Garden
I save everything I don’t use or eat in the kitchen and put it in a small bin lined with a strong plastic bag. This stuff is awesome to mix in with garden soil. It helps encourage the growth of beneficial and healthy microbes that keep soil rich and alive.
Here is a list of great things to save and use as natural fertilizer from the kitchen:
- Parts of veggies you cut off and throw away
- Melon rinds
- Outdated food in the fridge
- Leftovers you would normally throw in the trash
- If it can be used as food, it’s good to use as a fertilizer
- Stale chips
My friend has a large family. When they’re done eating, they go and scrape their plates in the garden! It’s a great way to recycle food and not feel guilty for wasting resources. Her garden flourishes.
If you have earthworms in your garden’s soil, you’ve hit the jackpot! Earthworms might be one of the very best things your garden could possibly ask for.
The presence of earthworms in your soil will:
- Provide nutrients to your plants in a form they can easily absorb
- Bring more oxygen into the soil
- Promote the growth of essential microbes that give life and health to the soil
- Keep your soil moist
- Reduce heavy metals like lead and cadmium in soil
If you mix a good compost into your soil, that helps feed the worms to keep them happy and multiplying. Many people purchase worm castings to mix in with their compost.
It might seem a little creepy (pun intended), but you can purchase live earthworms and carefully transplant them into your watered and tilled soil. Make sure to feed them with good organic material or compost.
It’s important to do all the working, mixing, composting, and tilling of your soil before adding earthworms. I don’t like cutting them in half with my shovel when planting in new areas. They deserve to live a whole and happy life.
5. Epsom Salt Garden Use
I always mix epsom salt into my garden soil. It’s just a standard garden practice I personally adopt to make sure there’s enough magnesium and sulfur in veggies that are known to have higher levels of these nutrients. I don’t always have time to test my soil and do this as a precaution.
My personal garden practice is to add epsom salt to vegetables that are known to be high in magnesium and/or sulfur:
- Dark leafy greens (e.g., kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens)
- Brussels Sprouts
My dark leafy greens keep producing even after I pick them! They’re gorgeous in color and get really big. I grow more than I can use! For me, the addition of epsom salt is a must.
My broccoli plants grow off the charts well with epsom salt. I recently learned that you can eat the leaves of broccoli plants. Talk about saving money! One broccoli plant gave me edible leaves for half a year. Not kidding.
If your soil has a magnesium or sulfur deficiency, epsom salt may help plants take up standard fertilizers better. You can do a soil test if you want to know if it’s deficient in any nutrient.
If you know that your soil is lacking in magnesium or sulfur, this is a natural fertilizer you may want to add.
Sometimes epsom salt can help leaves turn from yellow or light green to a vibrant and healthy green color. If there’s a magnesium or sulfur deficiency, it’s also possible that a plant could produce fewer blooms.
Epsom salt can help fruits and veggies achieve vibrant colors.
6. Seaweed Fertilizer (Kelp)
Kelp is a natural fertilizer that’s high in potassium. Many people use fresh kelp in their gardens to add beneficial organic matter back into the soil. Others prefer to use kelp in liquid or powder form. All are known to contain good amounts of potassium.
Kelp contains a natural growth hormone that makes it grow super fast in the ocean. In the garden, kelp helps seedlings efficiently develop and it stimulates root growth. With a better root system, plants take up nutrients and water at an improved rate.
Adding kelp to your soil can help give you more blossoms, fruit, and vegetables at harvest time.
7. Fruit Peels as Fertilizer
A study showed that fruit peels can help regulate the pH of soil and provide micronutrients. 3 Orange and pomegranate peels were quite acidic. Banana peels were alkaline.
The most popular fruit peel to use as natural fertilizer is banana peel.
What fertilizer has manganese? The top 2 minerals in banana peels are potassium and manganese. 4 If your soil needs these minerals, adding banana peels may help.
Some people prefer to use dried banana powder as a natural fertilizer. This is a great alternative if you’re in a hurry and don’t mind spending a little extra cash for someone to dry and powder it for you.
If you have leftover fruit peels in your kitchen, throw them in the garden instead of in the trash. You’ll be happy you did (so will the microbes in the soil).
8. Chicken Manure Fertilizer
My friend in Denmark swears by chicken manure fertilizer for her red and black currants. She said as soon as her chickens started dropping their business in her garden, the currants grew big and fast!
She said out of everything she’s ever used on her vegetable garden, chicken manure was the very best natural fertilizer.
Chicken manure is super effective because it contains all 13 essential nutrients that plants require to grow and flourish. It has way more nitrogen and phosphate as compared to cow manure. It has slightly more potassium than cow manure has.
If you use chicken manure, it’s best to have your own chickens do the job. If you must buy it, make sure to purchase an ethical organic chicken manure to avoid toxins and contaminants.
9. Eggshell Fertilizer for Plants
Eggshells make an awesome garden fertilizer for soil that needs calcium. The secret is to grind them up as small as possible when adding to the soil. They’ll mix in the soil much faster when they’re in super tiny pieces. A quick way to do this is to add leftover eggshells to a blender with water and pour in the soil.
Many people prefer to purchase eggshell powder because the drying and grinding work is already done.
As compared to the recommended daily human intake of minerals, a study found that chicken eggshells are high in 5:
So if you’re searching for a natural calcium fertilizer, chicken eggshells are an excellent solution. Wood ash is great too.
10. Coffee Grounds Fertilizer
A study showed that used coffee grounds mixed in soil increased beta carotene, lutein, chlorophyll, and size of lettuce. 6 It mentioned that small amounts of coffee grounds were shown to increase these nutrients in the lettuce (not more than 10% coffee grounds in soil). The key is not to use too much.
Coffee grounds naturally contain zinc and iron.
Another study showed that coffee grounds helped rice plants take up more zinc and iron. 7 The number of rice grains produced also increased in the presence of coffee grounds. This makes the rice more nutritious.
Coffee grounds can be used as an effective natural fertilizer from the kitchen. Just don’t use more than 10% in your soil. Ask your garden specialist if coffee grounds are right for your plant.
11. Peanut Shells in Compost
Peanut shells can be an amazing natural fertilizer for vegetables. A 4-year study was done in China looking at the effect of burned peanut shells on the growth of corn.
Burned peanut shells (like charcoal) in the soil had the following effects on corn growth 8:
- Increased nitrogen in soil
- Increased soil microorganisms (improving nutrient availability)
- The amount of corn increased
- Improved the soil’s nutrients
Another study showed that peanut shell compost had a favorable effect on the growth of eggplant and bitter melon. 9
50% peanut shell compost was shown to have the following benefits 9:
- It’s an effective alternative to commercial chemical fertilizer.
- A higher number of vegetables came from peanut shell compost vs. chemical fertilizer alone.
- It made the veggies weigh more (bigger) than the chemical fertilizer alone.
- It improved vegetable growth.
If you have a bunch of peanut shells laying around, it might be beneficial to throw them in your compost pile.
12. Organic Trace Minerals Fertilizer
It’s super critical that there’s a broad spectrum of at least 60-90 trace minerals in vegetable garden soil. One of the best ways to do this is to add the right amount of supplemental organic trace minerals.
Make sure that your trace minerals are OMRI listed. What is OMRI? It stands for Organic Materials Review Institute. They determine what fertilizers can be safely used in organic gardening.
There are a couple of ways to get trace minerals in your soil:
- Rock Dust (organic)
- Sea Minerals (organic)
Adding both can do wonders for your veggies and can help them grow into gigantic superheroes.
Some people add trace minerals to compost to make it extra nutrient-rich. Others mix it into the main soil. Just follow the package directions. This stuff makes a big difference in yield, vegetable size, and overall growth. It’s loaded with a broad spectrum of minerals that provide a rich environment for healthy soil microbes to grow.
Trace mineral fertilizer helps establish the roots of plants and improves general growth.
- OceanSolution is a great brand of sea trace minerals.
- Excelerite is another amazing brand for OMRI-listed rock dust.
According to my natural fertilizer research, these are the top 12 best natural fertilizers for the home organic gardener. Most of these fertilizers are homemade and super easy to incorporate for a low cost.
If you’ve been searching for how to make your own natural fertilizer, see if any of the above tips will fit your needs. Above and beyond (in my opinion), the best fertilizer for plants is a combination of human urine and ash (but ask your doctor before trying and always consult a garden specialist beforehand).
Hopefully, the above natural fertilizer information will take your gardening to the next level.
1. Akpan-Idiok AU, Udo IA, Braide EI. The use of human urine as an organic fertilizer in the production of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) in South Eastern Nigeria. Resour Conserv Recy. 2012; May; 62: 14-20. [Google Scholar]
2. Pradhan SK, Holopainen JK, Weisell J, Heinonen-Tanski H. Human urine and wood ash as plant nutrients for red beet (Beta vulgaris) cultivation: impacts on yield quality. J Agric Food Chem. 2010; Feb 10; 58(3): 2034-9. [PubMed]
3. Jariwala HJ, Syed HS. Study on Use of Fruit Peels Powder as a Fertilizer. Conference: Recent Advances in Environmental Sciences and Engineering. 2016; Nov: 1-4. [Google Scholar]
4. Ahnwange BA. Chemical composition of Musa sapientum (banana) peels. J Food Technol. 2008; 6(6):263–266. [Google Scholar]
5. Schaafsma A, Pakan I, Hofstede GJ, Muskiet FA, Van Der Veer E, De Vries PJ. Mineral, amino acid, and hormonal composition of chicken eggshell powder and the evaluation of its use in human nutrition. Poult Sci. 2000; Dec; 79(12): 1833-8. [PubMed]
6. Cruz R, Baptista P, Cunha S, Pereira JA, Casal S. Carotenoids of Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) Grown on Soil Enriched with Spent Coffee Grounds. Molecules. 2012; Feb; 17(2): 1535–1547. [PMC Free Article]
7. Morikawa CK, Saigusa M. Recycling coffee grounds and tea leaf wastes to improve the yield and mineral content of grains of paddy rice. J Sci Food Agric. 2011; Aug 30; 91(11): 2108-11. [PubMed]
8. Du Z, Xiao Y, Qi X, Liu Y, Fan X, Li Z. Peanut-Shell Biochar and Biogas Slurry Improve Soil Properties in the North China Plain: A Four-Year Field Study. Sci Rep. 2018; 8: 13724. [PMC Free Article]
9. Nalluri N, Karri VR. Use of groundnut shell compost as a natural fertilizer for the cultivation of vegetable plants. International Journal of Advance Research in Science and Engineering. 2018; 7(1): 97-104. [Google Scholar]