17 Common Items That Are Also Garden Fertilizer [Complete List]

Chopping up your own compost is one of the most environmentally sound things you can do. Composting is effectively recycling your kitchen scraps, yard trimmings and food scraps into a rich soil supplement for gardens and other plants which promotes organic growth. 

You’ll need to add some fertilizer ingredients into your compost to encourage plants to grow well. Here are seventeen household items that make fantastic additions to a garden fertilization program.

This post will teach you how these common household items can be easily incorporated in the garden, with easy recipes for mixing each one’s use with fresh ingredients. Mushrooms and horseradish root are two ingredients that deliver great benefits without noise or fuss. 

This is the kind of trick that can really help your garden, and you’ll get benefits right away. Take a look at our list for great new ideas on how to make your landscape or garden more beautiful.

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Picking up a few of the heavier materials from construction sites for use as a compost ingredient is easy. Different materials have different properties that can be easily utilized in the garden and home compost recipes. Depending on what you are looking for, your needs may dictate what you choose to add to the mix. 

Some materials are okay to use directly, while other materials may need a little preparation before it can be used immediately. Here are some of the common building material ingredients which make great garden additions: brick, concrete, mortar, sand, stone and stucco. Brick makes for great compost ingredients because it’s nice and heavy. It holds moisture well which allows for proper aeration in garden mixes.

2. Coffee Grounds

While many people aren’t coffee drinkers, some of us do enjoy a cup every now and then. These ground-up dregs can be used as an organic source of plant food for the garden soil. The heat of the brewing process should be carefully timed so as to not burn the soil. This uses a lot of coffee grounds, but it’s a great source of organic material that holds up well in the soil.

3. Prunings and Lumber

Lumber makes a great compost ingredient because it’s heavy. It’s easy to harvest from most any construction site, and it requires virtually no work. You’ll just need something to carry it home in, or you can keep an empty bucket in the trunk of your car at all times for dumping your lumber scraps into.

 Prunings are great additions as well, especially if they’re clean and free of chemicals and pesticides. Just avoid using any that have been treated with poisons.

4. Eggshells

The eggshell is the best part about the egg that many people tend to throw away. Some people leave them in their trash can, but it’s a good idea to take advantage of them and use the calcium contained in them for your garden. Place the eggshells next to the plants you wish to help with their growth. Just be careful not to breathe on them or you’ll inhale some of the egg’s nutrients. They also make great potting soil additives.

5. Paper Containers

Did you know that just about anything can be used for a garden? Most people don’t think to do it, but just about anything from disposable containers to plastic bottles can be used in the garden. In order to make your gardening easier, it’s a good idea to try different things and see which ones work best for you. If you’re new to gardening, a good starting point is to find some cheap containers and fill them with dirt.

6. Food Waste

You have to be careful with this one, or you may end up giving your pets a few extra treats. If you use your grocery bags in the garden, be sure not to overfill them if you want the plants to get the benefits of all their nutrients. You will need a lot of food waste for a garden’s needs, so keep that in mind when considering how much is enough for your plants’ needs.

7. Sweet Potatoes

Here’s a great idea for anyone who has a garden. Sweet potatoes are full of nutrients that can provide a lot of assistance to your gardening efforts. They make an excellent addition to your compost, and they’re always available and inexpensive, too. You can also throw sweet potatoes into the dirt directly if you have extra plants as well, which will help keep the soil loose and light.

8. Bread

Bread is another great candidate for adding to the compost pile or directly into the garden soil. Like sweet potatoes, bread is easy to find and a great way to give your plants some much needed help with their growth. Just like the sweet potato, you can bury a loaf directly into the soil to provide your bodacious blooms with all the nutrients they need.

9. Miso Paste


Miso is a paste used as a flavoring in many Japanese dishes. It’s also new to many people who are just now starting to discover it for its benefits as an organic fertilizer. Many gardeners use it to improve their soil quality because it contains long chains of amino acids which help break down organic matter and nourish plants, both of which make them grow healthier and faster.

10. Mushrooms

Mushrooms come in two varieties: fresh and dried. Dried mushrooms are an excellent addition to any garden. Just like the other ingredients we’ve mentioned here, they’re easy to get and inexpensive. They’re also a great source of plant nutrition, and they work well with virtually all plants.

11. Horsetail

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You’ve probably noticed the horsetail weed on the ground before. It tends to grow alongside streams and at the bottom of hills. It’s a great organic source of magnesium, calcium, silica and phosphorus. Magnesium is one of those elements that plants lack, so it’s a good idea to give your plants a boost with some horsetail in their soil.

12. Tea Tree Leaves

Tea tree leaves are one of nature’s best organic fertilizers. They also help to loosen up clay soils that have become too compacted and hard for their needs. They can be used in compost or directly in the garden soil. You’ll want a small amount for both uses.

13. Banana Peels

Banana peels are great for the compost pile, but they can also be added directly to the dirt as well. They’re rich in potassium that many plants need. 

Just make sure you’re using some gloves if you decide to work with one that’s not fully ripe and ready for eating yet because they still have some of their chemicals in them and it can burn your skin if you handle them without protection.

By the way, if you want to learn how to hollow out a log with a planter, click here.

14. Cabbage

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Cabbages also come in two varieties: fresh and dried. Dried cabbages are a great addition to the compost pile because they help to break down organic material quickly. Cabbages are so high in Vitamin C that they can help your plants to absorb all of it, so don’t hesitate to use some when you have fresh or leftover cabbages from a meal.

15. Leaves

Leaves, especially leaves from trees, are strong sources of nutrients for plants. You can use them in your compost or directly in the ground, either way your plants will find their nutrients easily. In order to help them break down faster though, you’ll want to mix them with some dirt and other organic materials like grass or vegetable scraps.

16. Wood Ash

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Wood ash is a great addition to any garden because it helps to introduce minerals into the soil that many plants need to grow well. You can use wood ash from your fireplace or wood burning stove, but make sure you only use ash that has cooled down and isn’t still hot. It’s not a good idea to cook directly on your stove or in the fireplace when you have ashes that are still hot.

17. Fish Scraps

Fish scraps are a great source for fish emulsion, and that makes them a wonderful addition to the garden soil. You can also add them to your compost, but only if they’re fish scraps that have been leftover from meals and not ones from caught fish because they don’t work as well in the soil.


Now that you know what types of household items make for great compost fertilizers, it’s time to start adding them to your garden soil. By doing so, you will be able to take full advantage of their organic quality and ability to help plants grow healthy and strong. Remember that these items also have other uses outside the home as well. Use them accordingly for maximum benefit on every level possible.

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