Home Garden Basics Insanely Useful DIY Recipes for Gardeners

Insanely Useful DIY Recipes for Gardeners

by Dawn
dandelion salve

Ingenious Recipes for Everything from Hand Salve to Pest Control

No one can deny that gardening is hard work, and that it can get expensive when you have to buy All.The.Things! But, the good news is that many of the necessities of gardening can be made at home with just a few simple ingredients.

I recently asked some wonderful fellow gardening, homesteading, and sustainable living bloggers for their VERY BEST DIY recipes for everything from organic pest control to fertilizer to hand salve and more, and they were generous enough to share with me, so I’m sharing with you!

WOO HOO! Are you excited? I am!

Organic DIY Plant Fertilizers

Comfrey Tea

Kathi Rodgers over at Oak Hill Homestead has a wonderful recipe for Comfrey Tea. I have to admit I haven’t grown comfrey in my garden before, although after reading a bit about its benefits, I’ll be doing so as soon as possible!

comfrey blossom
Common comfrey- useful AND pretty!

Did you know that comfrey roots can extend more than 10 feet deep into the soil? Why does that matter? Glad you asked! The roots extend deep into the soil where lots of nutrients are stored and bring them up closer to the surface. This allows other plants with shorter roots to utilize them as well.

PLUS, having amazing roots like these means the plants themselves are full of good stuff, not only nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, but micronutrients too. That’s where this Comfrey Tea comes in. It will give your plants all three of the essential nutrients, plus the bonus micronutrients as well!

And even better, it’s simple. You can check out the recipe in Kathi’s article here.

If you’re watering seedlings with this tea, I would venture to say you should dilute it quite a bit before using. Seedlings are very delicate and this Comfrey Tea is quite strong, so less is definitely going to be more when it comes to young, tender plants. You’re better off using it more often but in a dilute form than going for the strong stuff right off the bat and burning your seedlings.

This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your purchase price.

Worm Tea

Kristi over at Stone Family Farmstead has generously shared her recipe for Worm Tea with us. As with the Comfrey Tea, it’s very simple to make and won’t cost you a penny, assuming you have worm castings. If you don’t happen to have worm castings on hand, you can buy some here. Even if you end up buying them, you’ll still find this is a super inexpensive way to get some great fertilizer for your plants.

You’ll need:

  • One gallon filtered water (if you have city water that’s treated with chlorine, leave it in an UNCOVERED container for at least 24 hours to let the chlorine dissipate).
  • One cup worm castings
  • Bucket big enough to hold everything

To make the tea, mix the castings into the water in the bucket and let it sit for 24 hours. Strain and use.

See? Told you it was easy!

This tea is gentle enough to use even on young seedlings.

If you’d prefer a stronger version you can use on more mature plants, you can find Kristi’s recipe here. Worm Tea Recipe #2 is the stronger one.

Banana Peel Fertilizer

bananas for fertilizer

Just as we get potassium from bananas, so can plants. Potassium is vital to plants as it regulates many different functions, including carbon dioxide uptake during photosynthesis and production of the sugars necessary for growth and development. All plants need potassium, but, unfortunately, it’s difficult for plants to extract from soil, so supplementing is a good idea.

Kristi from Stone Family Farmstead has also shared this AWESOME banana peel fertilizer recipe with us. Again, easy peasy, which is great when you’re too busy in the garden to actually make stuff FOR the garden!

All you need for this recipe is a blender, some banana peels (if you’re concerned with staying strictly organic in your garden, make sure they’re organic) and the sun.

Dry your peels in the sun for several days until they’re black and crunchy, then blend them in your blender to the consistency of coarse pepper. That’s it! Now, wasn’t that tough?

Just sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the powder around your plants. Prioritize your peppers, tomatoes and melon plants, as they particularly love potassium, but this fertilizer is good for all your crops, and flowers too!

If you’d rather have a liquid banana peel fertilizer, Kristi has you covered too! Check that recipe out here.

Bonus recipe: Eggshell Fertilizer

Kristi was also kind enough to share her eggshell fertilizer recipe with us. Check it out here. If you’re growing tomatoes this year, you NEED this recipe, as calcium is CRUCIAL for a healthy tomato harvest. We go through A LOT of eggs in my house every week and I’ll definitely be using Kristi’s recipe!

Formulas for DIY Pest and Disease Control

DIY Vinegar Powdery Mildew Treatment

Kristina over at Proverbs 31 Woman has generously shared her DIY powdery mildew treatment with us. As with the other recipes, it’s quick, easy and uses ingredients you likely already have. WIN! WIN!

Ready? Just take 32 ounces of warm water and add one tablespoon of vinegar (either white or apple cider, totally up to you). Cover your container and shake. All done!

NOTE: You should definitely test this spray on your plants before you spray it everywhere. It is possible that the acid in the vinegar could burn sensitive leaves. You should spray it on one or two leaves and check back in 24 hours to see if there was any damage. If there wasn’t, you’re good to go! Although I don’t know this from personal experience, spraying on a cloudy day or when the sun has passed for the day may make it less likely to damage your plants.

Spray it on leaves showing signs of mildew every day for a week, then every other day after that.

DIY Milk Powdery Mildew Treatment

You may remember that I discussed this just last week in my post on Growing Organic Squash. As squash tends to have lots of issues with powdery mildew, I was on the lookout for a safe, organic treatment.

Kristina has kindly shared her milk treatment recipe, which has some important details you should check out before trying it. Be sure to head over and read her article!

DIY Deer Repellent

I don’t know about where you live, but we have DEER EVERYWHERE here in Connecticut! I’d love to know how many there are per square mile (or maybe I don’t really want to know…..) Suffice it to say, we have A LOT of deer!

This is brought home to me very clearly every spring when my hostas and daylilies come up. Well, they try to come up. Then they get eaten. **sigh**

deer in field
Cute, but terribly destructive

My take on DIY deer repellent has always been Irish Spring soap. It’s really, REALLY strongly scented and, at least in theory, deer won’t come near it because it messes with their ability to sense predators as they rely strongly on their sense of smell.

I’ve always shredded the soap and sprinkled it around my plants. This does work, although must be reapplied whenever it rains (and it’s been raining A LOT this spring!)

My major argument against Irish Spring soap is the same thing that makes it so effective. IT SMELLS REALLY STRONG! As in, it gives me a headache. I can barely stand to shred the stuff!

So, what’s a gardener in Grand Central Station Deer to do?

Check out the Deer Repellent recipe from Pamela at Natural Essentials at Yellow Banks, that’s what!

As with the other recipes, it’s super simple and you probably have all the ingredients already! YAYYY!!!

  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce (this is one thing I don’t own, but is an easy find at any grocery store)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (I ALWAYS have garlic!)
  • 3 raw eggs

Blend the above 3 ingredients in your blender (which you’ll want to wash thoroughly afterwards to get rid of the hot sauce. Just sayin’). Add your mixture to a gallon of water and spray on your plants. As with the soap, you’ll need to reapply after it rains.

If you’d like more AWESOME recipes for DIY weed killers, soil mixes, or some suggestions for companion plants to help repel bad bugs, check out Pamela’s post here. You’ll be glad you did!

Gardener’s Hand Scrubs and Salves

If you’re an email subscriber of mine, you already have the recipe for my Gardener’s Hand Scrub. If you’re not, why not? You’ll get TONS of free goodies in my Resource Library, plus a weekly newsletter. One thing you won’t get is spam, because I’ll NEVER do it! Head here to sign up. You’ll receive the password to the Resource Library in your welcome email for INSTANT access to all the good stuff.

Besides my Gardener’s Hand Scrub, Candy over at Candy’s Farm House Pantry has very generously shared her scrub recipe with us. It’s very, VERY different from my recipe, and as a bonus, if you get hungry, you can probably eat it! (Just kidding, it might not taste very good, but all the ingredients ARE edible).

Curious? Check her recipe out at Candy’s Farm House Pantry. I’m eager to try this soon, it looks great!

dandelion salve
Pretty yellow dandelion salve

Last, but certainly not least, Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead has also generously shared her recipe for Dandelion Salve with us.

In all honesty, I didn’t even know dandelion salve was a thing until Kathi shared this recipe, but now I really want to try it! She says it’s wonderful for stiff muscles, arthritis pain, dry skin and to heal sores.

The only drawback I can see is that the oil with dandelions in it must infuse for at least 4 weeks, so those of us who are <ahem> impatient (not me, of course!), might have a hard time waiting.

As soon as the dandelions start blooming, I’m trying this, it sounds really intriguing! Here’s the recipe for you so you can try it too.

Again, I’d like to thank all the lovely ladies who contributed recipes and links for this post. If you haven’t already, please be sure to visit their sites and check them out.

Here, in no certain order, are the sites for you again: Oak Hill Homestead, Proverbs 31 Woman, Stone Family Farmstead, Natural Essentials at Yellow Banks, and Candy’s Farm House Pantry.

I hope today’s post was helpful and that you enjoyed it. Please pin any of the pictures below so you can find these awesome recipes and websites whenever you want them. ANNDD, I’ve linked this post to an AWESOME blog hop this week, so be sure to check out some of the other wonderful bloggers below!

As always, smile and have a crazy organic day!

Posts Related to Helpful DIY Recipes for Gardeners

This post has been shared on the Farm Fresh Tuesdays Blog Hop. Come check out some other awesome farm, homestead and gardening bloggers here. It’s also been shared on the Simple Homestead Blog Hop. Please check them out here! ANNNNND, also on the You’re the Star Blog Hop. You can check those posts out here, but I must warn you, you’re going to get sucked in and end up reading for HOURS! Just sayin’.

farm fresh feature
I was featured! Farm Fresh Tuesday Blog Hop!
comfrey plant flower
dandelion hand salve

Ingenious Recipes for Everything from Hand Salve to Pest Control


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Kristi Stone 05/31/2019 - 12:16 pm

Thank you so much for sharing my banana peel fertilizer recipe, Dawn! I love finding ways to use kitchen scraps one more time before the compost pile!

Dawn 06/01/2019 - 6:56 pm

You’re very welcome! Thank you for so generously sharing it.

JudyAnn Lorenz 05/15/2019 - 9:33 am

Terrific. I see some new things to try. I have been doing a dilute ‘worm tea’ for cuttings this year. Just dropping some casting material into the rooting jar. I collect egg shells, soak them in water, then use the water on plants. After soaking, they are crushed and added to soil. The calcium will leach out slowly, but they make great spacers for air in the soil.

Dawn 05/15/2019 - 10:55 am

I’ve done the egg shell thing too. I actually added tea bags to the mix and let it ferment for a week or so. It stunk, but I imagine it was good for the plants.

Linda Carlson 05/15/2019 - 9:31 am

Loads of good information here.. I have done the eggshells. I have used the banana peels on houseplants but yet to try them in the garden.. Very nice article Dawn..

Dawn 05/15/2019 - 10:54 am

Thanks. Glad it was helpful!

Michele Cook 05/15/2019 - 9:12 am

I love using worm tea for my plants. I am definitely going to try that recipe. My 93-year-old grandmother just gave me her supply of soap pieces to hang in the garden. This is the first year she isn’t planting a big garden. She swears by that method!

Dawn 05/15/2019 - 10:54 am

I’ve never tried hanging the soap in the garden, I’ve always shredded it and placed it around the plants, but I have concerns with my method in that soap can damage plants after awhile. Please let me know how hanging the soap works.

Nikki Gwin 05/14/2019 - 11:46 am

I love these recipes and can’t wait to try a couple of them out. Thanks!
🙂 gwingal

Dawn 05/14/2019 - 8:22 pm

You’re welcome! Enjoy!


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