TGoG Podcast 087 – Making Fertilizers at Home

Listen to the Episode Below (00:32:49)
Coffee grounds - making fertilizers at home

Coffee grounds – making fertilizer at home

Did you know that you can make at least seven effective fertilizers in your very own backyard?  Let me step you through the process of making fertilizers at home.  Here are the ones that I talk about;

All are very effective additions to any backyard veggie patch giving the soil and your plants a boost a couple of times a year.  If you are really interested in Urine which is the easiest and most abundant (after a few home-brew beers) homemade fertilizer, then here is some more info from Wikipedia.

Urine contains large quantities of nitrogen (mostly as urea), as well as significant quantities of dissolved phosphates and potassium, the main macronutrients required by plants, with urine having plant macronutrient percentages (i.e. NPK) of approximately 11-1-2 by one study or 15-1-2 by another report, illustrating that exact composition varies with diet. Undiluted, it can chemically burn the roots of some plants, but it can be used safely as a source of complementary nitrogen in carbon-rich compost.

When diluted with water (at a 1:5 ratio for container-grown annual crops with fresh growing medium each season, or a 1:8 ratio for more general use), it can be applied directly to soil as a fertilizer. The fertilization effect of urine has been found to be comparable to that of commercial fertilizers with an equivalent NPK rating. Urine contains most of the NPK nutrients excreted by the human body.

It really is great stuff and it is such a shame to flush it down the loo.

Well listeners and readers, I hope you found my tips interesting, enlightening, and helpful for your garden.

May your garden grow abundantly and be bountiful!

Leek and Potato Soup

Take a large one of these…

Leek and potato soup

and about 500 grams (1.1lbs) of these..

Leek and Potato soup

and add a bit of garlic…

Garlic Close up


You get one of the best home-made and hearty soups around.  Here’s the recipe that I cobbled together.

Gavin’s Leek and Potato Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 30 g butter
  • 1 leek, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 500 g home-grown potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock


  1. Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add leek and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until leek is softened.
  2. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add the stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Using a stick blender, blend leek and potato mixture in saucepan until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle Leek and Potato soup into large bowls, and serve with crusty bread.

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the soup because, well, I ate it before I even thought of taking a picture.  Sorry about that, I just like my food too much to stop and take photos of it.  After all, this is not instagram!  You don’t need to photograph every meal you eat.

After I cooked it, which only took about 40 minutes top after I harvested the leeks, potatoes and found some old garlic cloves in the back of the pantry, Kim and I divided this soup between us in two large noodle bowls.  With the addition of the crusty bread it became our dinner.

Contrary to what TV cooking shows tell us, I find that it is the simple meals that are far more wholesome, filling, and satisfying.  They are also so easy and quick to make when you are short on time or don’t feel like making a slap up meal.

We both felt very satisfied that the majority of the ingredients came from our garden!  It was simply delicious.

Just like our lifestyle.

Broad Bean Seed Experiment Results

At the start of the winter growing season I began an experiment.  Would saved broad bean seeds grow better than commercial seed?  I wanted to see if there was any difference.  You can see that my saved seed was a different colour than the commercial seed.  Neither seed had been treated, so I thought that it would be a fair test.

You can read about how I planned the test and sowed the seed back in May 2014.

Saved Seed vs Commercial Seed

Saved Seed (L) vs Commercial Seed (R)

Well the verdict is in.  Drum roll please…

From what I have observed, there is no difference in height or yield of the different plants.  The controls that I put in place were that I watered the bed evenly with the irrigation system.  Both parts of the bed received equal sunlight; about 6 hours a day.  Both batches were fertilised with the same amount of liquid fertiliser, one watering can distributed over each batch.

Broad Bean Seed

The final height of the broad bean patch.

The flowers have stopped appearing, so it is nearly time to harvest the entire bed, which Ben and I will do during next weekend.

I also took a split test photo to see if the bean pods looked any different between the two batches.  Earlier on in the year, I marked where the first batch ended and the second started.

Saved Left, Commercial Right

Saved Left, Commercial Right

Not very scientific, I know, but under the circumstances it was the best I could do.  Each plant had three pods per plant.  I tasted the bean from each type and found no discernible difference.

Fresh Broad Bean Seed

Fresh Broad Bean Seed

Both were absolutely delicious.

An interesting fact is that The Seed Savers’ Handbook states that Broad Bean seed is viable for four years if stored in good conditions.  I will be saving the seed from four plants this year using my usual method.  I cut the plants off near the soil and hang them upside down from the carport rafters with string until they dry out.  Easy as pie.  I then collect the seed from each pod and store in an airtight glass jar in my seed box inside the house.  The seed box is nice and dark.

So there you have it.  Same result with both types.  The best thing about this years’ crop is that there has been no sign of Broad Bean Rust.  All plants are very healthy even though we have had some very strong northerly winds that usually spread the rust fungi.

How many of you planted this wonderful bean this year?  Did you have any issues that I may be able to help out with?  Should me a question via comment, and I will endeavour to answer it.

If so, please join thousands of others who receive exclusive weekly online recaps & tips, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, The Greening of Gavin - My First Year of Living Sustainably.


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