Easy Peasy DIY Boost to Keep Your Veggies Growing and Growing.

Elena K, Hometalk Team
by Elena K, Hometalk Team
9 Materials
15 Minutes
Whether you grow food for fun or for a living, you know there’s nothing more rewarding than having a great harvest...
Or nothing as disappointing as a bad one!
Over the years, I perfected a three-ingredient recipe (plus compost tea) to keep my vegetables growing strong. Read on to learn how to make yours!
Last Years Beefsteak Tomato : Quite a Beauty!
Tending a few tomato bushes or my favorite peppers — Habaneros — after a long day at work is always so relaxing. The anticipation of seeing that juicy beefsteak spiced up with an Habanero punch and a little basil keeps me going!

Until mid summer, that is, when things start going down hill. With the heat and humidity, blight, rust and fungal diseases come in. And next thing you know, all your bushes are droopy…

And gone!

Luckily, this boost keeps my bushes growing while keeping disease away.
All you need—Green tea, Epsom Salt & Molasses

To make the Insta-love Boost you’ll need the following ingredients:

- Tap water – 32 liquid oz

- Green Tea – 1 teaspoon

- Epsom Salt – 1/2 to 1 teaspoon

- Molasses – 3/4 to 1 teaspoon

- Compost Tea & Compost – 6 tablespoons. Instructions in STEP 4

- Spray Bottle

- 1 or 2 fine strainers

- Fish Fertilizer (optional) – 1 teaspoon

- Sulfur (optional) – 1/2 teaspoon

Now, the core of this wonder is HO2, green tea (you can also use a little less of black tea), Epsom salt and Molasses.

Compost tea adds instant nutrients, as does the fish fertilizer. They are quickly absorbed by the leaves, so if you can’t make the compost tea get the fertilizer at your home center. My local Home Depot carries it year around.

Sulfur is a great organic antifungal that will keep blight and rust at bay. More on sulfur in STEP 8

Gather your ingredients and let’s get started!
I’d like a Green Tea, please.

Brew a bag of your favorite plain green tea and let it sit until it cools.

TIP: You can also use black tea, but it’ll be stronger, so compensate by reducing amounts: less than 1/2 teaspoon should be enough. Organic tea is nice but not necessary.

Grab your spray bottle, and add 1 teaspoon to 32 liquid oz of water.

TIP: Get a bottle with a ruler and you’ll be able add water directly into the bottle without a measuring cup.
Next is the Epsom Salt!

Get your water & tea mix, and add 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of Epsom Salt.

NOTE: For the first Insta-love Boost of the season, you can make it a little stronger. Feel free to start with the higher amounts in this first batch and decrease after.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what so good about Epsom Salt: it provides a nice instant dose of magnesium and sulfur, both good nutrients for any plant.

TIP: You don’t need to be very accurate, so a regular kitchen spoon will do if you don’t have pro measuring spoons.
Yes, plants have a sweet tooth too!

Again, get your spray bottle — with the water, tea, and Epson salt — and add 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of Blackstrap Molasses. You can get them at your local supermarket or online.

TIP: Pour the molasses directly into your spray bottle — and make a mess, as I did! — or take a little of your mix into a cup and mix the molasses there. Then put everything back in the bottle.

Blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients for plants including carbon, iron, sulfur, potash, calcium, manganese, potassium, copper, and magnesium.

Stir well and let it sit for an hour to let the Epsom Salt dissolve well, and you're ready to use it!

This will make your basic boost but it you want to kick it up a notch I suggest you add the COMPOST TEA, FISH FERTILIZER and SULFUR.

TIP: You can also use blackstrap molasses as a fertilizer to water your plants and mix it with another all-purpose fertilizer. A good combination is one cup each of Epsom salt and alfalfa meal — for instance — in four gallons of water, plus one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses.

Or simply mix blackstrap molasses in with compost tea for an easier recipe. Do this only after the compost tea has steeped.
Let’s make some Compost Tea now!
To make compost tea you need fresh worm compost (i.e. compost that hasn’t been used before), a container and water.

Worm compost is the kind you make with food scraps (veggies, egg shells, dried matter, etc.) as opposed to using animal manure.

Put the compost in the container and add tap water. Stir and let it sit for a couple of days to allow the compost to sip in the water. Stir occasionally, every few hours or a couple of times a day.

TIP: No need to cover the container — it won’t smell, I promise — but keep it indoors. Outdoor water containers make a great breading ground for mosquitoes. And I’m sure that’s the last thing you want to attract in your garden!

Stir again before straining the liquid out of the compost and Voilá! Here’s your compost tea.

TIP: Use a thin mesh strainer. The compost tea has small particles and deposits that may eventually clog your spray bottle, so the thinner the mesh the better.
Let’s add the Compost tea to the super boost.

Get your bottle and add 3-6 tablespoons of compost tea to the mix.

You can also strain a second time your already strained compost tea, and even a third one using a fine cheesecloth before pouring into the spray bottle. You’ll see a small amount of fine deposit every time your strain it!

TIP: To avoid spills, feel free to use a funnel to pour the tea into the bottle.

That’s it! This makes your basic Boost.

If you don’t have compost, get the fish fertilizer: it’ll add a nice touch and your plants will love it! (Despite the yucky smell!)
Two more ingredients make it even better!

You just finished making your boost, and here I am asking to add two more ingredients: Fish Fertilizer and Sulfur. Why? To make a good thing even better!

TIP: Check STEP 8 & 9 to find why you should add these too.
Add Sulfur to combat blight, rust, & fungi!

Get your bottle and add 1/2 teaspoon of Sulfur to fight rust, blight, and other fungal diseases that often attack tomato plants and other bushes. (More tips on preventing disease and improving soil on STEP 12.)

I use the powder, but you can also get it in liquid form from a nursery or plant center. It goes a long way. Be careful when handling it, it may irritate the skin — we’ll use small amounts in diluted form, because it’s less likely to cause any damage to you or your plants.

TIP: You can also apply it by itself to treat diseased areas. Use instructions provided in package.

A bit more info on sulfur below:

Though toxic if ingested, sulfur has been used as an organic fungicide for centuries. It can prevent apple scab, brown rot, powdery mildew, rose black spot, rusts, and other diseases. It is acidic and can irritate eyes and lungs.

CAUTION: By itself, sulfur can injure plants if used when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Lime is sometimes added to sulfur to help it penetrate plant tissue, but this mixture is more caustic and can cause severe eye and skin irritation. Do not inhale or ingest and wear protective clothing and eye wear when applying undiluted.

If your plants already have a fungal disease, trim & discard diseased parts only when they are dry. Use and discard gloves, or wash your hands immediately after. Fungi spores spread quickly and are easily carried by water or moisture.

Apply only after cleaning damaged plants.

TIP: Sulfur must be applied before new leaves or other susceptible plant parts appear, at the first sign of disease, or when weather conditions are favorable for disease.
Last One and we're done: Fish Fertilizer!

One last ingredient to make this boost great: Fish Fertilizer. You can get it at the Home Center or Nursery — I get mine at my local Home Depot. They carry almost all year around. It’s also available on Amazon.

Get your mix and add 1 teaspoon. Stir, close and shake because we’re almost ready to test it!

Fish emulsion is very high in nitrogen and makes a great all-purpose fertilizer.

TIP: You can also use fish fertilizer in your plants. Mix with water. (Follow instructions for correct amounts.)

I add it to both my in and outdoors plants during spring and summer, and it sure makes a difference in growth and blooming.

CAUTION: The sulfur and fish emulsion will add a smell to the boost that may attract flies. It will linger for a few hours and then go away.
Let’s label it before we try it!

If you follow me, you know by now that I love to stick a label to any concoction!

So get tape, pen, scissors and your spray bottle. Write a name, and include all ingredients and the date.

TIP: Include amounts with ingredients, especially if you change amounts from the original recipe and don’t forget to date it.
Time to test it!

Grab your bottle and get ready to spread the love. Apply thoroughly to all your bushes once or twice a week.

TIP: Don’t forget to shake it well before each application. Sulfur tends to stay at the bottom and you want your ingredients well mixed.

Too much love can be damaging too! Especially if you are using a concentrate, leaves can suffer leaf burn (or leaf scorch) over time.

I have used this boost almost as often as daily towards the end of the season (mid-late August into late September) and plants have been okay. Keep in mind that high temperatures and humidity combined with diseases and other factors may make your plants weaker and more susceptible to burn.
Before & After: Loving the boost!

I couldn’t wait to give it a try, and though it was a hot humid day, I decided to test it at 95 degrees temps in full sun. No wonder on that heat plants were droopy. So I sprayed and waited. Half hour later leaves started perking up.

Indeed, they’re even greener. Take a look at the BEFORE & AFTER pics!

REMEMBER: Ideally you should apply 80-85 degrees.

TIP: As the season progresses, don’t forget to prune your bushes and clip diseased leaves before applying the boost.
Happy Plants = Lots of Fruits & Veggies!

I already told you how to make a DIY Fish Fertilizer, Epsom salt, Molasses, and alfalfa meal to add nutrients to the soil: check STEP 4 again to get the recipe.

A few more organic ingredients you can add to your soil to improve quality are:

COMPOST TEA Go back to STEP 5 to make yours and STEP 4 to use it in a DIY all purpose fertilizer.

COFFEE GROUNDS. Used coffee grounds contain about 2% nitrogen, about 0.3% of phosphoric acid, and varying amounts of potash (generally less than 1%). Coffee grounds are particularly useful on those plants that like things a bit more acidic such as blueberries, evergreens, azaleas, roses, camellias, avocados, and many fruit trees.

TIP: allow the coffee grounds to dry and then scatter them lightly, as a mulch, around your plants. Avoid scattering them thickly when they are wet, because clumps of coffee grounds have a tendency to get moldy.

EGG SHELLS. They contain about 1% nitrogen, about 0.5% phosphoric acid, and other trace elements that make them a practical fertilizer. Calcium is an essential plant nutrient. Most roots need calcium at the growing tips to grow effectively. Plant growth removes large quantities of calcium from the soil, and calcium must be replenished, so this is an ideal way to “recycle” your egg shells. Simply crush them, powder them in an old coffee grinder, and sprinkle them around your garden soil.

BANANA PEELS: great for many plants, especially roses. When planting, bury a banana (or just the peel) in the hole alongside the rose. As it grows, bury bananas or banana peels into the top layer of the soil. Both of these approaches will provide the much needed potassium that plants need for proper growth.

The better the soil the stronger your plants will be and less prone to disease.

If disease comes, discard and treat damaged areas as soon as possible. There are plenty of organic DIY methods.

For more DIY concoctions check my DIY Garden Pest Control — http://www.hometalk.com/diy/outdoor/pest-repeller/3-household-items-to-keep-your-garden-pests-at-bay-17441683 – and DYI Mosquito repellent — http://www.hometalk.com/diy/clean/a-healthy-non-toxic-dyi-mosquito-repellent-16853605

And follow me! I’ll be adding another post on Neem oil (both an insecticide and fungicide) and Diatomaceous Earth in a few days.
Suggested materials:
  • Tap water   (home)
  • Green Tea   (supermarket)
  • Epsom Salt   (supermarket, drugstore)
See all materials
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
  • Mel8239413 Mel8239413 on Aug 12, 2016
    This is really wonderful! I am going to make a batch this weekend. Do you spray it directly on the leaves or at the base of the plant?

  • Mary Coakley Mary Coakley on Aug 12, 2016
    Hi when you say not on new leaves,do you mean on the plant roots?You sprayed in sunshine,I was told never water/spray till the sun went down?Thank you

  • Carol Carol on Aug 13, 2016
    Where is step 5? Is some missing?

Join the conversation
4 of 13 comments
  • Gina Gina on Aug 12, 2016
    Thank you so much for all of this great information! I am so grateful! I look forward to your future posts! :)

    • See 1 previous
    • Elena K, Hometalk Team Elena K, Hometalk Team on Aug 13, 2016
      Hi, yes I'm spraying directly into the leaves, NOT watering the plants with boost. It's ok if a little spray falls in the soil, but if you water repeatedly with it, too much sulfur may affect the soil. Hope this clarifies :)

  • Jaye Jaye on Aug 27, 2022

    I live in Florida although fall is coming what can I do to keep my grass looking beautiful what do you suggest using. As you know our winter months are beautiful but the grass looks very tired can I use the same ingredients that was used in the summer for fall to make my lawn look luscious thank you