7 Nutrient-Rich Elixers Your Seedlings Will Thank You For

Sure you can buy fertilizers and soil additives to help boost production, but did you know you can also take advantage of waste from Mother Nature and household scraps that you’d normally toss? These too can promote blooms and growth and they’re so simple to make!

Watering GardenHere are a few recipes to try, basically all you need is one or two items, a bucket, some water and a bit of time. Allow to brew outside and voila! You have your own secret garden food that your plants will thank you for ;).

Seaweed/Kelp: If you live near the ocean, lucky you! Collect dried seaweed from the beach (near cold-water only), rinse well to wash off salt then put in a barrel. Cover with water (to the top), cover with a lid and allow to brew for at least two months. To use: dilute with water to make a spray. Can help speed up flower and fruit production.

Boiled Vegetable Water: (always unsalted) After boiling vegetables, allow the water to cool then pour it on soil around your plants. The water is infused with goodies that the veggies have left behind.

Kitchen Scrap Infusion: Save vegetable peelings in a small bucket, cover with boiling water and allow to steep overnight (up to 2 days). In the morning, strain and use to water your plants. Use only plant based scraps and not meat or dairy.

Yard Refuse Infusion: Same idea as the kitchen scraps, this time using grass clippings (if pesticide-free), leaves, twigs, dead flower heads and anything else that you rake up or prune/deadhead. Store in a pail, cover with water and allow to steep for about a week or so (covered). When ready to use, strain out the bits (add them to your compost pile if you have one) and use the infused water in your garden. The downfall with this recipe is that it may contain seeds that the straining doesn’t catch.

*Tip: Feel free to combine both the kitchen scraps and yard refuse items into one big brew pail, it’s all good!

Manure Tea: This can be used as an all-purpose fertilizer and applied every 2 to 3 weeks. Add a shovelful of well-rotted manure to a 5-gallon pail, fill with water then leave it to sit overnight. Apply to soil only and don’t let it come in contact with leaves or stems. Mentioned previously on this page.

Compost Tea: Rich in nutrients, all you need is a pail full of water, a shovelful of compost and some time (from 3 to 7 days). You’ll find all the details on this page.

Boiled Eggs Water: After eggs have boiled, there will be traces of calcium left behind in the water. Wait till it’s cool before using. I come across this tip frequently in vintage household articles and is especially recommended for African Violets. It’s thought to help with bloom and plant growth (previously mentioned on this vintage tips page:Old-Time Tips For Garden Tenderfeet).

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What Readers Are Saying: 40 Comments
  1. Linda says:

    I’m most fortunate to live on the tidal beach in British Columbia. Sea weed and kelp are in abundance. I go down with my bucket and fill it up then, come home and give it a fresh-water rinse. For the larger pieces of kelp, I cut it up into smaller pieces then dig it right into my soil.
    My veggies love it !!!

    • Nick says:

      Oh yes and Kelp is great as a mulch – keeps the soil moist, warm and shady on hot days when you cover the whole garden. Eventually it breaks down and works well in the sandy soil here in New Zealand.
      And I swear it brings bees and lots of them – i don’t know why !?

  2. barbara says:

    oh i didnt know about the boiled egg water , i shall use it from now on 🙂

  3. Tiff says:

    I give my indoor ivy cold coffee once a month….his leaves are huge, shiny and the vine growth is amazing….learned that trick from my mom =)

  4. Lori says:

    I have a VitaMix blender and with all my kitchen scraps I blend with rain water for about 2 minutes until very well blended and pour onto the plants. They love the “instant compost”!

    • Helen Kelly says:

      Lori, I have been thinking about doing this for some time, now I will actually try it, thanx.

      • charity says:

        I Keep an empty coffee can by my ninja mixer and blend kitchen scraps with leftover coffee and take directly to our garden. 🙂

    • dani says:

      I do the same thing…i call them”garden smoothies” the plants in my terrible clay new construction soil have responded very well!

  5. Rupa says:

    Great tips! I also use coffee grounds mixed with a cup of water to feed my herbs – they grow like crazy and stay really healthy throughout the season!

  6. Linda says:

    I wash the egg shells in dish soap and a bit of bleach. Dry and smash up and put in my gardening soil or seed starter mix. It gives the soil more calcium.

    • Lu Jasperson says:

      Linda-no need to wash eggshells with soap and bleach. Bleach kills good bacteria and microbes. Just crush the shells and use no sanitizing-defeats the purpose.

      • Dennis says:

        I was going to say the same thing, I just let them air dry for about a week and use my ninja to break them dow. Around Easter when we have lot’s of egg shells I don’t even bother with drying them, just crush them and put them in my compost pile.

    • Gerry says:

      The eggshells will also keep the rabbits away. The rabbits smell the protein in the eggshells and think a predictor is near and has already killed something.

  7. SU says:

    put the water of greens ie brockley,greens brussel sprouts onto Hydranger to make the flower heads go blue its the iron in the water

  8. Noala says:

    Good tips but be careful – collecting seaweed from the beach here in Perth, Western Australia is illegal!

    • Ann says:

      wow, why is it illegal?

      • irina says:

        yes collecting seaweed from the ocean is illegal in South Carolina, USA as well. Its called preserving nature. Also when pulling boat out of the water from lakes, rivers all plants needs to be pulled off the motor. DNR dont want any crosstransfer between natural habitation.

  9. Bobbie says:

    When you transplant your plants or start from seed, add a teaspoon of Epsom salt to the hole before putting the plant/seed in. Then about every couple weeks or so add a teaspoon around the plant when you water it. They love it!

    • Katy says:

      The salt doesn’t harm the seed? I have quite a few flower seeds to get in yet but wouldn’t want the salt to “burn” the seed and prevent germination. I have used Epsom salts with tomato plants before planting them.

  10. Ann Belonger says:

    Great tips, I use comfrey leaves that are too old and big to use. I put them in a pail of water and let it sit for about 10 days, Mineral rich and the plants and soil love it.

  11. Beulah says:

    If you get blossom rot on tomatoes mix l tsp of dry milk in the soil when planting. You can use it when they are ripening but it’s not as effective then.

  12. Tracy says:

    Banana peelings, dried and crushed, can be added around the base of plants for a great nutrient boost once a month.

  13. emily says:

    i pour cold tea left in the pot on my geraniums

    stags-horn love banana peels, just stuff them around the plant where they fit.

  14. Jacinda says:

    I dilute left over coffee and water my geraniums and fern with this. It boost new growth and your geraniums will burst forth with new blooms.

  15. adela olivero grassi says:

    Thank you!!!! This is fantastic

  16. patrickcollin says:

    I have a pond and clean the filters into a bucket then pour this on the garden, does some amazing things for the plants.

  17. Bklynebeth says:

    Old fish tank water is great for houseplants too!

  18. brenda powell says:

    in the winter when i cant get pond water for my indoor plants i add chlorine remover for aquariums to my water.

  19. Sudie O. Goodman says:

    Thank you for a valuable list.

    They PRINT feature is so appreciated.

  20. Judi parker says:

    The chlorine remover is a great idea. Your rose bushes LOVE coffee grounds and banana peels and Epsom salts (discourages moles and other burrowed as well. ) I cast Epsom salts and drizzle castor oil around Hostas every year. Thanks for the great ideas.

  21. Amy says:

    When using egg water. Can it still be used if 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda was added to it?

  22. Mona Preis says:

    How can I get bag worms off my Weeping Cherry Tree?

  23. Adam Fletcher says:

    This is my first time planting a vegetable garden so i dont know alot about it, does anone know if you can combine the different options at the top to make a strong plant food? Or is that not a good idea

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