Growing your own groceries is a common goal shared by homesteaders, preppers, and off the grid enthusiasts. There is absolutely no better way to ensure that you family is prepared to survive a disaster than to have a massive stockpile of naturally grown and raised food as well as a backup supply of long-term storage food.
Raising crops to supply the bulk of your dietary needs can be accomplished in spaces both large and small. Vertical and container gardening allows even urban preppers and suburban preppers the opportunity to bolster their growing space and become more self-reliant. Rural preppers often raise livestock in close proximity to their crops and are extremely careful about what types of fertilizers are used to help the garden grow.
Whether you are growing your own food forest following the stealthy concept laid out by survivalist gardener Rick Austin or making use of every inch of available space with a vertical or container garden, aiding seed and plant growth by the use of fertilizers is always beneficial.
There is no need to use commercial fertilizers or harsh chemicals on the garden to get the crops to grow to their highest potential. Growing heirloom non-GMO seeds with natural fertilizer is not only a healthier option, but it is also the least expensive and more sustainable route to take as well. Even if store-bought fertilizers do not offend your organic sensibilities, you should still learn about and stockpile natural and homemade fertilizers as well. Hopping in the SUV and driving to the local big box garden store will simply not be an option after the SHTF.
When you take a few easy steps to make your own nutrient-rich composting material by repurposing items routinely discarded from the kitchen, you have already given the crops an important growing boost. Starting your seeds or plants indoors in composted soil will prepare them for the outdoors and likely bolster the crop yield. Toss any of the natural and homemade fertilizers into the compost pile during the winter and early spring when you are not growing outdoor crops. This enhances the attributes of the soil so they are ready to accept seeds and new plants in the next growing season.
What Is Fertilizer?
Fertilizer is an extremely important part of the crop growing process. The material added to the garden will provide the plants and seeds with the proper mix of nutrients necessary to make them flourish. Fertilizer also helps prevent the plants from becoming stagnant, and it replenishes nutrients to the soil that have been soaked up by the seeds and plants as they grow.
Necessary Soil Nutrients
The primary types of nutrients necessary for plant health can be broken down into thre groups or ranks. You need to have the proper amounts of each nutrient in the soil for it to be healthy.
• Phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen
• Calcium, magnesium, and sulfur
• Boron, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc
If the ground or container the crops are growing in lack these vital nutrients, they can die prematurely or fail to flourish and produce an adequate amount of food.
Natural And Homemade Fertilizers
Eggshells provide an excellent source of calcium and aid in the cellular development of the seeds and plants. The shells also contain solid amounts of both nitrogen and phosphoric acid. Calcium is perhaps the nutrient that depletes most quickly during the growing process. Simply grind your eggshells into a powder and then sprinkle them onto the soil around the plants.
If you are growing plants that flourish in an acid-rich environment, coffee grounds make an excellent homemade fertilizer. The grounds increase the amount of magnesium, nitrogen, and potassium in the soil, but also enhance pH levels at the same time. Crops that can benefit from coffee ground fertilizer include blueberries, tomatoes and avocados.
The salt can be used to help grow healthy and some say, sweeter tasting, cabbage, onions and broccoli. When used on pepper and tomato plants, Epsom salts may also help to create stronger plant stems and more blossoms. The salts add extra magnesium and sulfur back into the soil. Mix just one tablespoon of Epsom salt with one gallon of water and spray desired plant every two weeks. You can also lightly sprinkle one tablespoon of the salts around seedlings immediately after they have been replanted to give them an added boost of nutrients.
The peel of a banana will add potassium back into the soil. It is almost impossible to infuse too much potassium into the garden. Shred the peel into thin pieces and place them around the base of the plants in a circular fashion.
Hair, be it from humans, dogs, cats, or your favorite milk cow, will help bring forth a beautiful harvest. The nitrogen content in hair will give the seeds and plants a much-needed boost. The hair used should be clean and free of all hair products . Perhaps one of the older children or tweens in the family could volunteer to sweep up freshly cut hair from the floor of area salons to help generate a natural fertilizer stockpile.
If you live near the ocean, or vacation along a sandy beach, pick up some seaweed from the shore and bring it home to your garden. Seaweed gets very stinky very quickly. If you opt to snag some from the beach while on vacation, wash it out in the hotel tub and permit it to air dry before storing it in a suitcase. Chop up about two cups’ worth of seaweed, mix it with an equal amount of water, and then sprinkle it around the base of a small plant. Increase this mixture by two cups for medium plants and to four cups for large plants and berry bushes.
The composted manure from chickens, cows, and horses can be used as a ground covering for all plant types. Rabbit manure has proven to be a very successful natural fertilizer for tomato plants. The manure is infused with a variety of nutrients that will bolster soil health and deter some pesky insects that like to feed off of your crops. However, never put fresh manure into the garden; it may likely kill your plants.
Save that infuriating wood ash from the bottom of your fireplace or wood burner and use it to help create a bountiful garden. The ash is rich in both calcium carbonate and potassium and will aid plants that flourish in an alkaline environment. Do not, however, use wood ash that has been subjected to lighter fluid or another chemical accelerant or charcoal.
[Image via Andrea Pavanello/Wikimedia Commons]
What are you favorite natural fertilizer combinations?