How to Make Plant Food


No matter what you're considering planting in your garden, it's important to make sure that you've got adequate sustenance arranged for your new plants. Prepackaged plant food can be unnecessarily expensive, especially when you consider the fact that you can easily replicate the same nutrient mix yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Step 1

Determine whether you need to use agricultural lime or gypsum in your mix. To do this, check to see whether the rainfall in your area is more or less than 20 inches per year. If it's more than 20 inches per year, use agricultural lime. If it's less than 20 inches per year, use gypsum. Do not use both when making your mix; only use one or the other.

Step 2

Slide your gloves onto your hands, if you're wearing them. If you're mixing your plant food with your hands, you will likely want to wear these gloves.

Step 3

Mix lime or gypsum with magnesium sulfate and boron in your wheelbarrow. Be careful not to spill any of your mixture before you're ready to use it. Make sure to mix thoroughly.

Step 4

Apply food in a ratio of approximately 1 oz. per square foot. Work thoroughly into soil about a week before planting.

Step 5

Store any food you don't use in your empty paint bucket with lid for later use. Make sure the lid fits tightly, so that moisture does not get into your plant food and cause it to clump and become unusable.

Tips and Warnings

  • Try to avoid breathing in the dust from your plant food as you mix it, as it can irritate your sinuses and lungs. In some cases, it can also irritate your skin, so it's advisable to avoid direct contact with this plant food mix and its component ingredients when possible. You may also wish to wear goggles and a painter's face mask when working with this plant food to protect your eyes and nose. Make sure to mix the food thoroughly into the soil where you'll be planting. Failure to mix thoroughly could result in burning your plants with fertilizer, which may stunt their growth or even kill them.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-lb. agricultural lime or 10-lb. gypsum
  • Elbow-length rubber gloves
  • 8-oz. magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts)
  • 2-oz. boron (also sold as 20 Mule Team Borax in your laundry detergent aisle)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • 10-gallon paint bucket with lid
  • Goggles (optional)
  • Disposable painter's face mask (optional)


  • Making Plant Food From Natural Mineral Nutrients
Keywords: how to make plant food, creating homemade fertilizer, making homemade fertilizer

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.