10 All-Natural DIY Fertilizers for Your Garden and Yard By Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

You’ve probably heard that you can use a banana peel and other compost to fertilize your garden, but did you know some items—like gelatin, coffee grounds, and even a matchbook—can have specific benefits for your plants?

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Hydrogen Peroxide for Plant Roots

Help strengthen your plant’s root system with hydrogen peroxide—the extra pump of oxygen from the peroxide prevents root rot and over-watering. Just mix a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with 2 cups water, and water your plant with the solution. Its disinfectant properties will fend off bacteria, mold, fungus, and other nasty soil-borne diseases.

Cereal Crumb Fertilizer

Did you know that cereal crumbs are great for plants? They supply much-needed nutrients to the soil, which makes sense given that they’re grains that came from the soil in the first place! Instead of shaking the box over the trash before ripping it up for recycling, dump the remains of the flakes into your houseplants or garden for a treat they’ll love.

Make Your Own Bonemeal

As you may know, bonemeal is an excellent source of nutrients for your plants. But instead of spending $8–$10 on a bag at your local gardening store, make your own! Bonemeal is just bones, after all. Save bones from chicken, turkey, steaks, and stews, then dry them out by roasting them in a 425ºF oven for a half an hour or microwaving them on high for 1–6 minutes (depending on how many bones you have). Then place them in a plastic or paper bag and grind them up by hitting them with a hammer, then rolling them with a rolling pin. Mix the resulting powder into your soil for a life-producing treat for your plants. And you didn’t spend a cent!

A Must-Have for Growing Carrots and Tomatoes

The best thing you can give your carrot and tomato plant seeds is also what keeps you going during the day—coffee! Carrots and tomatoes both need extra nitrogen, which coffee has in spades. Mix the seeds with coffee grounds (used is fine) before you plant them. The coffee will provide your growing plants with the nitrogen they need, while having some extra bulk to plant will ensure they don’t end up all lumped together.

Slow-Release Nitrogen

For plants other than carrots and tomatoes, extra nitrogen can give them a boost, but too much can harm them. So use this nitrogen-rich DIY fertilizer that releases the nitrogen slowly into the ground. Dissolve a packet of unflavored gelatin in 3 cups warm water. Then use it to water plants in need of a little TLC. You’ll get all the benefits of an expensive fertilizer without the price tag!

Epsom Salt Lawn Fertilizer

Did you know Epsom salts are one of the best natural lawn fertilizers around? They’re composed of magnesium and sulfur, both of which are highly beneficial to grass. Magnesium kick-starts seed germination and is also a player in manufacturing chlorophyll, the substance that plants create from sunlight in order to feed themselves. Sulfur, meanwhile, also helps with

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HOMESTEADING 101 WITH OFF GRID IN COLOR

Homesteading is the dream for many people. I know we’ve always been curious – simple living, self-sufficiency, a greener lifestyle.
Wikipedia defines it as a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and . . . the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. This didn’t clarify much. We wanted to learn more – the ups and downs, the dos and don’ts, and most of all, how to start. So we called our friend Chantel Johnson, of Off Grid In Color. She describes the homestead as the foundation of living: the way back to nature, a point of reference, and the source of wisdom. In our interview with Chantel, she explains her homesteading journey as taking control of her basic needs and monitoring her health and environment. Her mission is to lead others to greater self-sufficiency through farm raised food, birth coaching, and community outreach. She shares with us some of the challenges she faced as a homesteader, the importance of community, and tips on how to get started on your own homesteading journey.

1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been living off-grid and homesteading? What inspired you to become a homesteader?

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I’m a city gal gone country! I’ve been homesteading and living off-grid-ish for about two years. I say off-grid-ish because in my current setup the water supply is provided by a well using traditional power. There were previous places where I was 100% self-sufficient.

“I WAS DEPRESSED, UNHAPPY”

I was born and raised in Chicago. I overcame barriers that many poor and people of color face in under-served and under-resourced communities. After high school, I won a scholarship to Carleton College, one of the best liberal arts schools in the country. It was there I discovered the educational gap between the “rich and poor,” as well as the surface level impacts of racism and sexism. But that did not stop me from persevering and graduating with honors. Unsure of my next move, I spent two years serving in AmeriCorps. Later I obtained my masters degree in social work from the University of Washington.

In 2014, prior to my graduation, my youngest brother was shot several times in Chicago. It rocked my world. Later that year I decided to move to North Carolina where I got a job working for a research company. I hated it, but I did not understand why. I did all the “right things” – what I thought society expected of me. I “made it” out of the hood. I went to school, worked hard, acquired two degrees, and landed a decent job. For what? I was depressed, unhappy.

In August of 2015, my brother died from the complications of his shooting. That was the last straw. I began considering the influences that played into my brother’s death – such as lack of quality jobs, the closing of schools, and poor access to nutritious foods. It was well known that my brother was involved in gang and drug activity, but that lifestyle becomes an easy choice when your basic needs are not met in your community. This is a common occurrence in many poor black and brown communities.

“…THE EARTH PROVIDES EVERYTHING WE NEED TO THRIVE! THE SUN RISES FOR LIGHT AND ENERGY. THE RAIN PROVIDES WATER. THE SOIL IS OUR SOURCE TO GROW FOOD”

My journey as a homesteader came from a desire to take control of my basic needs. To free myself from the influences of the government and corporations. This gave me the power to monitor my health and environment.

You see, the earth provides everything we need to thrive! The sun rises for light and energy. The rain provides water. The soil is our source to grow food.

2. Tell us about your homestead.

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My homestead is a sanctuary for health and wellness. I follow basic minimalism principles and simple living practices. My home is a tiny house on wheels and I own very little material things. The homestead is a place where a person can come heal, rejuvenate, and nurture their body, mind, and soul. I facilitate this by providing natural farm-raised goods, holistic doula services, and meaningful community outreach.

“MY HOME IS A TINY HOUSE ON WHEELS AND I OWN VERY LITTLE MATERIAL THINGS”

I primarily raise pigs! I just love these creatures, their eyes are so human-like. They are very large, but sweet and friendly. My pigs are raised in the woods where they have plenty space to roam. They are rotated every month to a new plot of land where they have access to new bugs and greenery. A few times a year I raise chickens for meat. During the holidays I raise turkeys. I also have a small flock of egg layers. All my poultry are pasture-raised with plenty space, and rotated often. The animals are all given non-GMO feed, love, and hugs… when they let me! I invite you to come out and visit!

By:  Chantel Johnson

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