Inexpensive Ways to Increase Nitrogen Levels in The Garden

Here Some Inexpensive Ways to Increase Nitrogen Levels in The Garden?

If your garden is not growing healthy as it used or use to and some of the plants/crops in the garden look a little yellow.

This could be that your plants have nitrogen deficiency in the soil.

So, you might be wondering “Why do plants need nitrogen, and how to correct or help the lack of nitrogen in plants?

Well, first of all, Nitrogen is a plant fertilizer that is essential to proper plant growth.

Let’s have a look at why plants need nitrogen and how to correct a nitrogen deficiency in the soil.

The Cheapest Way Increase Nitrogen Levels in The Garden
The Cheapest Way Increase Nitrogen Levels in The Garden

How To Fix a Nitrogen Deficiency In The Soil?

To fix nitrogen deficiency is quite simple, plants as whole need nitrogen to make themselves grow healthy and strong.

Without nitrogen in the soil, a plant cannot make the proteins, amino acids, and even its very DNA.

Therefore, This is the reason why when there is a nitrogen deficiency in the soil, plants are stunted.

The plants simply cannot make their own cells. So, if there is nitrogen all around us, which makes up 79 percent of the air we breathe.

Anyhow, if you have ever wonder why do plants need nitrogen if it is everywhere?


How is nitrogen made accessible to plants?

Well, in order for plants to use the nitrogen around us, it must be converted in some way to nitrogen in the soil.

This can happen through what is called nitrogen fixation. Nitrogen can also be “recycled” by composting plants and manure.

There is no homemade way on how to test the nitrogen level of soil in the yard.

However, you will either have to have your soil tested or purchase a soil testing kit.

Generally, any of your local extension offices will gladly test your soil for a small fee or even for free, but it depends on where you live.

So, when you have your soil tested at the extension office, they will also be able to tell you any other deficiencies you may have in the soil as well.

Ideally, you can also purchase a kit as a way of testing and knowing the nitrogen of soil.

These tool kits can be found at most hardware stores and plant nurseries.

Most kits are user-friendly, easy, and quick to use and can give you a good idea of the nitrogen content of your garden soil.

How To Slove Nitrogen Deficiency Using Organic Methods?

Solving nitrogen deficiency using organic methods requires a lot of time, however, it will result in a more even distribution of the added nitrogen over time.

One organic method of adding nitrogen to the garden soil include:

  1. Adding composted and manure to the garden soil
  2. Planting a green manure crop, such as borage in the garden
  3. Planting nitrogen-fixing plants like peas or beans 
  4. Adding coffee grounds to the garden soil

What Are Some Inexpensive Ways to Increase Nitrogen Levels in The Garden?

Tea made from used coffee grounds products is one quick, cheap, and effective way to raise nitrogen levels in an organic garden.

Many local coffee shops will happily give you their spent grounds.

Using Coffee Grounds

Using coffee grounds in your compost pile mix first is ideal, but the truth is you can just pour it on the ground in a diluted fashion and be just fine.

Also, Chicken manure provides additional compost and a high amount of organic fertilizer.

Additionally, I like to add mushroom compost because it has the ability to make better use of the available nitrogen with the soil.

Using Leaf Mold Content

Leaf mold content is good for the soil, you just have to be patient and even it up with some nitrogen-rich supplements.

Ways to Maintain Good Balance of Nutrients in Your Garden

Leaf compost is indeed a good basic material to start out with for organic nutrients in the soil.

The nutrition in your compost is locked up in chemical bonds and it needs to break down more to free up the elements your plants feed on.

As the leaves in your garden degrade, they will make better and better soil over time.

Most leaves are filled with trace nutrients that have been harvested from deep tree roots that have been pulled from deep, nutritious earth.

Your number one job is to make all that goodness available to your plants.

Some of the nitrogen found in plants’ leaves already evaporated from the leaves as they changed from green to brown.

Therefore any compost mix could use some green mass or other nitrogen-rich materials mixed in with a shovel.

These include:

Green Mass

Using nontreated grass clippings or get it free from landscapers or your own yard.

Coffee Grounds

Animal manure is a cheap source that can charge up your compost with nitrogen.

It will feed beneficial bacteria which will be busy breaking down your compost into soil and nutrients, nitrogen being one of these.

Liquid Seaweed

Liquid seaweed could charge up your garden compost and add lots of nitrogen as well.

Human Urine!

One way to charge up your compost really fast and cheap, it to urinate on it.



Human urine from healthy adults or children is sterile, and the salts will get washed away in an outdoor garden quickly.

This method is legit if you have a backyard garden.

Many commercial urea-based fertilizers are simply pig or cattle urine/feces distilled with petroleum industry byproducts and put in containers.

People may not agree with this but it is one of the cheapest ways to go.

Using Worms

Populating your garden soil with earthworms is another great strategy to break down materials into nutrients.

Earthworms are amazing workhorses in a compost pile.

They reproduce like crazy if they have rich sources of food and moisture in the garden soil.

Transplanting a handful of baby worms from your bucket right into different spots in your garden will increase nitrogen in the soil.

The castings the worms leave behind are wonderful fertilizers.

Compost Tea

With compost tea, you can make it cheap, over and over, with a bucket, an aquarium pump, three and 2 cups of brown sugar.

Compost tea is a concentrated beneficial bacteria that can accelerate digestion of all of the above-mentioned materials.

You can even brew compost tea mix with coffee grounds to make some useful and heady and rich fertilizer with tons of nitrogen, as I’ve done in the past.

So, just remember oxygenation is key in brewing compost tea.

Wood Chips

A lot of people have pointed out that mixing wood chips into the soil will rob the soil of nitrogen.

This is because the wood decays, and the chemical reaction requires nitrogen ions as a donor for the reaction, which soaks up nitrogen from the soil.

However, having a layer of wood chips atop the garden soil means that nitrogen ions are taken mostly from the air and then end up back in the soil.

This is while the decayed wood chips become soil and usually harbor beneficial fungi.

Additionally, wood chips insulate your soil against moisture loss and thermal heat which is beneficial.

Is it Possible to Use Urea as The only Source of Nitrogen in Compost?

Urea in compost mix absolutely does work and due to the chemistry of Urea, it will provide immediate availability to bacteria.

So, basically, there will be no effort as they can use an enzyme along with a small amount of energy to transform it into Ammonia (NH3).

Any acidity around will move it to (NH4) which sticks around and can be used by various microbes or plants.

So yes, this will definitely kick-start a compost pile mix.

One word of caution though, it can run out if you over-water the compost pile, and the Ammonia (NH3) that is initially produced can gas out as well.

So, a better strategy is to put it under a half-inch of wet material and let it dissolve.

Which is better, Fertilizer, Compost, or Urea For Plants?

For the Long term benefits of a good, balanced, biologically diverse. Compost would be a better fertilizer for plants.

Nevertheless, you may still require amendments to your soil depending on what you are growing as well as your growing practices.

Crop rotations, nitrogen-fixing plants, and encouragement of nitrogen-fixing bacteria through good garden soil health practices should provide all the nitrogen that most people need.

The lack of these practices is where most people break down when it comes to garden soil health and nutrient deficiencies.

What Is Urea?

Urea is basically considered an amendment and not so much a standalone fertilizer.

The substance might help in the short term, however, it is more of a bandaid than a real fix in most cases.

Nevertheless, if there is a real problem with the garden soil, then you may just need to use some.

People and a regular basis that are having issues with growth aren’t really lacking from nitrogen as often as they are lacking in some other nutrient or mineral in the soil

There is an imbalance substance in their soil that is not allowing for the efficient uptake of the nutrients the plant needs.

Will Decomposing Straw, Wood Chips or Hay, Deplete Nitrogen Levels in Soil?

Yes in some cases they can as we mentioned earlier.

However, the answer really depends on the soil health and biological activity of your garden soil.

Tillage of high carbon low nitrogen materials in some cases cause what is called “nitrogen lock”.

However, The nitrogen is not technically depleted.

A much better strategy would be to use these materials as mulch instead of tilling them into the garden soil. They do not cause nitrogen lock when used as mulch.

Naturally, garden soil gets nitrogen through the action of leguminous plants such as pulses, peanuts, etc.

These plants have nodules in their root system that contain a certain bacterium called Rhizobium.

These tiny organism converts the atmospheric nitrogen to forms that are absorbable by the plants, thus enriching the soil with nitrogen.

The most common way of nitrogen entering the garden soil is through the decomposition of organic matter.

The nitrogen compounds in these matters are broken down and released into the soil by bacteria.

Also, some nitrogen enters the soil as a result of lightning. Lightning converts the atmospheric nitrogen into amino acids. These get dissolved in the rain and finally reach the soil.

How Do Plants Get Their Nitrogen?

Even though there is plenty of nitrogen avaiable in the air, it’s not in a form that plants can use.

Plants as a whole can only absorb nitrogen in the form of ammonium, nitrite, and nitrate.

However, one way plants have access to these forms of nitrogens is the decomposition of organic matter by soil organisms.

Another source of usable and suitable nitrogen is mutualistic relationships between plants and bacteria.

So, by providing nitrogen-fixing bacteria a place to live while feeding them with carbohydrates, the plants get nitrogen in the form of ammonium.

Plants that are able to do this include most legumes that form relationships with Rhizobium bacteria, and other plants like California lilac, alder, Bayberry, and Russian olive that support Frankia bacteria on their roots.

Nevertheless, fertilizer and chemical fertilizer as a whole is a major source of plant-usable nitrogen.

However, other human activities, like the burning of fossil fuels and livestock operations, inadvertently produce widespread, nitrogen-enriched rainfall.

Why Do Plants Need Nitrogen?

The reason why plants need nitrogen is that nitrogen is the primary component found in many structures and metabolic structures of plants.

Nitrogen is also a critical ingredient in chlorophyll which facilitates photosynthesis and is essential in producing proteins and genetic material.

That being said, nitrogen is one of the six macronutrients required for plants, and fertilizers are used to ensure their availability in plants.

Deficiency of nitrogen in some plants is a result of poor growth, small size, yellow, red or dull leaves, small-sized fruits, tasteless fruits, seed germination, root structure, and much more.

How Does Nitrogen-Fixing Help Plants Grow?

The vast majority of plants have a symbiotic relationship with fungi or bacteria in their root system.

Nitrogen-fixing fungi form colonies near plant roots, where the plant itself excretes photosynthates, like sugars, to feed the fungi.

The fungi decompose organic matter in the dirt which offers easily uptaken compounds for the plants’ roots.

One of The most well-known fungal products given to plants is nitrogen-based compounds

Nitrogen-fixing refers to as microbes in the soil take elemental N from the atmosphere or from dead organic matter and reconstitute it to make something the plant can absorb, such as amino-based items like ammonia, NH3.

How Important is Nitrogen Cycle?

Nitrogen is vital for the synthesis of all plants and animals’ proteins.

The nitrogen in the atmosphere cannot directly be taken in by plants, unlike bacteria.

Therefore nitrogen-fixing bacteria eg. This is also found abundantly in the soil, and Rhizobium.

living on the nodules of leguminous plants they convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium compounds and nitrites, which are absorbed by the roots of plants.

Nevertheless, when animals eat plants, the organic nitrogen is transferred to the animal.

When the plants and animals die, their decomposition takes place where the Nitrifying bacteria breaks down in the soil.

This will then convert the ammonia into nitrites and nitrates which are released into the atmosphere.

This process is what we call Nitrogen Cycle.

Why the Nitrogen cycle is important for Plants involves:

– Stable Optimum growth of all Plants,

– The majority of nitrogen obtained from the atmosphere is used in the production of NH3 which is a raw source for the manufacture of Nitric acid. 

– Synthesis of natural and artificial Fertilizers e.g, Ammonium Sulphate.