8 Unusual Items for Fertilizing Tomatoes

8 Unusual Items for Fertilizing Tomatoes

Just about every tomato grower has a secret weapon for growing those perfect tomatoes. There are just about as many different methods that people use to grow tomatoes as there are tomato varieties.

Organic gardening methods have brought about many homemade tomato fertilizers and techniques – not to mention the plight to be more frugal.

Here are eight strange things that I have used, seen, read, or heard about for fertilizing tomatoes. Some of these are fairly common in vegetable gardening, while there are a few that just seem plain weird.

Egg Shells

While egg shells are mostly used to help bolster calcium levels in the soil, it is a strange thing when you think about it.

Most people collect egg shells that are left over in the kitchen, and then give them a quick bake in the oven to dry them out. The egg shells are then broken into small pieces and added to the hole when planting the tomatoes.

They can also be broken up and added around the base of the plant after the tomato plants have grown some. Many gardeners believe adding egg shells helps with blossom end rot.

Human and Pet Hair

Human and pet hair is said to be a great fertilizer for tomatoes. The hair contains many nutrients, mainly keratin, that benefits tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

Keratin is a valuable protein that helps tomatoes establish strong root systems. Hair breaks down slowly, which makes for a great slow release fertilizer. Just plop a tuft of hair into the hole when planting and you are on your way.

Pet Hair

Vacuum Cleaner Fluff

You know – that stuff that comes out of the vacuum cleaner bag. It makes for some good tomato fertilizer. The stuff that your vacuum sucks up is full of nutrients that come from hair and dead dust mites. All good stuff for your tomatoes.


Tums are not really a fertilizer, but it has been used to help boost calcium in the soil. I have heard of people dissolving Tums in water, and then pouring it around tomato plants. Personally, I have never tried this and prefer to raise calcium levels ,if needed, in other manners. It is an interesting idea though.

Used Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds have long been regarded as a common fertilizer and mulch in the garden. Just take some used coffee grounds and place in the microwave or oven to dry out. The dried grounds are easier to spread than when wet. Coffee grounds are great for suppressing weeds as well.

Used Tea Bags

Used tea bags have a similar effect as coffee grounds – they are a great fertilizer and mulch around your tomatoes. Make sure to remove the tea grounds from the bags, and dry out like with the coffee grounds, before using in the garden.

Used Tea Bags

Fish Scraps

Including the bones, too! Put fish scraps and bones in a blender and puree. Combine two cups of the puree with water and one cup of milk for a supercharged fertilizing concoction. The ground-up fish scraps will provided some powerful nutrients, while the milk will provide disease control.

Human Urine

Yes, human urine. There have been studies that show human urine is a superb fertilizer for tomatoes and most other vegetables. Urine is an exceptional source of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate – the key nutrients in any fertilizer. Fresh human urine is sterile and therefore bacteria free (unless you have a urinary tract infection, at which time you should not use urine as a fertilizer). It might be a great fertilizer, but I don’t think I’m peeing on my tomato plants any time soon.

What unusual items have you used or heard of to fertilize tomatoes?

Grow Fantastic Tomatoes

13 Comments on 8 Unusual Items for Fertilizing Tomatoes

  1. I have heard that people who use coffee grounds only have tomatoes that taste like coffee. Is this true? I definitely have enough coffee grounds every day, but am anxious to use them for this reason. What do you think?

    • Hi Lindsey, I have never heard of coffee ground causing the tomatoes to taste like coffee. Who knows – if you use coffee grounds a lot it might. Using coffee grounds is a great amendment for your soil if you use it wisely. I think some coffee grounds added will not hurt anything, but coffee grounds can make the soil a little acidic after prolong and abundant use. Adding some once a month or so shouldn’t hurt anything.

      Coffee grounds are also great to add to your compost pile, around blueberries and around azaleas. 🙂


  2. I have recently done some research on organic fertilizers, and tried one Alfalfa, alfalfa tea to be exact. I got 100% alfalfa leaf tea bags, and gave each tomato plant one tea bag, then watered over it. The tomatoes greened up quickly, they love the stuff. After all, it’s also used as a cover crop/green manure also. I think clover would work well as a companion plant, as well as a chicken or rabbit treat.

    I’ve heard molassas, comfrey, kelp and cotton seed and possibly peanut meal make good organic fertilizers as well.

    I also saw a youtube video where a hole was dug, and all kinds of UNCOMPOSTED veggie scraps were put in the hole, and then a tomato plant planted on top of the scraps. The tomato florished and bore fruit until it was killed by frost.

    So, I think almost any carbon based matter would work, except anything like meat items (rancid stench), or anything that might be to acidic (citrus peelings) or have to high a concentration of something.

    I tried comfrey leaves, but I think straight leaves, are to rich or something and they have to be composted and diluted first.

    If you can run the comfrey through chicken or rabbits (my chickens LOVE comfrey, a few of my rabbits will eat it, others won’t) then I think it will be better for the plants contained in critter manure.

    Worm tea or castings are invaluble as a natural fertilizer as well.

  3. hey i just recently used the tea bag method to fertillize some of my plants i was just wondering if you could also use the water that you boil te tea bag in? and how long after using this method would you say youll see improvement?

    • depends on the type of tea. depends on “the tea bag method” you use.

      If you’re using “people tea bags” I would do research on the “tea” plants in the teabag, to see if the plant is high in any one compound that may have a negative effect on your plants.

      I didn’t boil my teabags, just laid them dry, on the soil at the base of the plant, then watered over them.

      For whatever reason you want to use the actual liquid tea, I would…

      1. wait for it to cool completely. 2. do some dilution “trials” using a high dilution ratio(more water less tea), then increase the ratio(lessen water/increase tea) if no plant response can be seen.

      For instance, comfrey has many needed plant nutrients in it’s leaves, but they are in a high concentration, so they need much dilution to find the beneficial ratio. Straight comfrey leaves or comfrey leaf “sludge” will harm plants.

      I only used one tablespoon of dried flaked (looked like dried parsley leaves people sprinkle on entrees) per gallon of water, and probably half a teaspoon of alfalfa powder per gallon, per several plants, probably a cup of the solution per plant, with good results.

      There should be an almost instant greening of the leaves, in deficient plants because the tea water, is the nutrients in a water soluble form for immediate uptake by the plant.

      I noticed a vibrant green color up, after using worm tea and comfrey/alfalfa teas.

      I like to put the teabag at the base of the plant, so every
      time I water, some “tea” is extracted from the dried leaves to feed the plants regularly, vs. making up liquid tea every time I water, which is time consuming.

      Also, eventually microbs/worms will eat the teabag and soggy tea leaves, further enriching the soil.

      Alfalfa pellets (usually sold as an animal feed base, or additive) scattered around plants and over lawns, especially before a rain, should be just as bennaficial, without all the work of making tea.

      hope this helps. I am by no means an expert.

  4. dried flaked *comfrey* per gallon of water

  5. In South Africa we use banana peels chopped into tiny pieces and mulch the growing seedling or plant with that. The oxheart variety of tomato gets so big it looks like a pumpkin.

  6. i have a koi pond how do you think of feeding my tomtoe plants with thefish waste that is in my filter.or just useing the pond water.thanks bob

    • Bob, that water is like liquid gold as a fertilizer for your indoor and outdoor plants! That’s one thing I miss now that we no longer have an aquarium.

  7. I would like to buy some oxheart tomato seed in south africa where can I get them?

  8. I don’t know the scientific reasoning but dried cow and chicken manure. The cow manure makes the plants bushier and the chicken manure makes them taller.

  9. Epsom salts.
    Sprinkle some in the hole when planting–it works wonders! You can buy epsom salts at the pharmacy.

  10. I use earthworm castings on all my flowers and shrubs. How would they do on fruits and vegetables?

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