Soil & Fertilizer

How to Make Homemade Fertilizer for Indoor Herbs

The days of smelly fertilizer are gone. Make your own homemade fertilizer for indoor herbs and you can breathe easy while your plants flourish.

Let’s talk about homemade fertilizer for indoor herbs. When I bought my first home and decided I wanted to start my first garden (mostly in containers), I bought a lot of Miracle Grow potting “soil”. Loads and loads of it. I am also a “get your hands dirty” kind of gal, so I didn’t use gardening gloves. Those are just for schmucks, am I right? After at least an hour of shoveling the potting soil into my containers with my bare hands, I was thinking, boy this sure is thick, it’s not like regular soil. Looks rich! I wonder what’s in it?

After perusing the “ingredients” on the backside of the bag, I recall pausing, looking at my hands, and yelling to my husband, “oh my gosh did you know this was MANURE? I’M ELBOW DEEP IN POOP! IT’S UNDER MY FINGERNAILS!” 

I tell you, one time my mom said that pickles look like cucumbers, and everyone still teases her about it to this day. This was my moment to earn that badge, and boy did I earn it. (I wear gloves always now, by the way).

Getting to the good news, I’m not going to tell you that you need to scout your litter box to make homemade fertilizer for herbs. Is this getting too gross? I promise the next part is pleasant.

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Making homemade fertilizer for indoor herbs in the kitchen

You probably already have homemade fertilizer for indoor herbs in your home. If you look at the ingredients in a lot of commercial fertilizers, you’ll see they consist of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, or N-P-K, along with other micronutrients. It just so happens that things like cooking water contain many of these elements. 

Boiling potatoes and other vegetables or hard-boiling eggs release nutrients into the water. Let that cool, and you can use it to water your herbs. Used coffee grounds, too, give plants a nice bit of nutrition. Just work them into the soil around your herbs. 

Here’s one last homemade fertilizer for indoor herbs – an Epsom salt fertilizer. Just mix one tablespoon of Epsom salt into one gallon of your leftover cooking water, and you have an instant way to give your herbs a little love. Note: Too much magnesium can lead to potassium and calcium deficiencies, so I wouldn’t use this mix more than once per month.

Herbs don’t need very much in the way of fertilizer. Indoor herbs, however, do benefit from an occasional boost of nourishment, as the soil in a container can be depleted of nutrients quickly. Starting with good, healthy soil will absolutely help your indoor herbs grow, as will regular watering and plenty of sunlight. Personally, I like to use soil from my garden, as I generally only start growing herbs indoors for the winter. 

In most cases, you’ll only need to fertilize your indoor herbs every two to four weeks, depending on how large or small their containers are. As a point of caution, don’t fertilize your herbs if they are under stress. Feeding herbs that are already drooping or wilting could make things worse. 

What kind of homemade fertilizer have you used? Did you get the results you were hoping for? I’d love to read your story in the comments below.

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Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

By Amanda MacArthur

Amanda MacArthur is Senior Editor & Producer for Food Gardening Network and GreenPrints. She is responsible for generating all daily content and managing distribution across web, email, and social. In her producer role, she plans, edits, and deploys all video content for guides, magazine issues, and daily tips. As a best-selling cookbook author, Amanda cooks using ingredients from her outdoor gardens in the summer and from her indoor hydroponic garden in the winter.

4 replies on “How to Make Homemade Fertilizer for Indoor Herbs”

I make my own fertilizers at home using kitchen waste. Waste only from vegetables and fruits. All this still has a lot of nutritional value. Make sure to use them thoroughly before throwing them away. I do it as described in the article (In Polish) i.e. heated in water, and then I water the plants with this water (after cooling down). It really works too. Plants are also beautiful and healthy.

How about how to make homemade fish fertilizer? My husband brings home the fish we don’t eat (garbage fish) to fertilize my fruit trees, but it’s too hard to use the actual fish in whole parts to fertilize a whole garden. Would love a recipe to make fish fertilizer that I could water, or work into the soil when planting.

I actually use most of what you elaborated on PLUS I go out in the woods and use God’s naturally composted soil as my base when planting my herbs and container grown vegatables and flowers.

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