Organic Fertilizers And How To Properly Use Them

Microbes and plants need nutrients. That’s where organic fertilizers come in.

We can supply most of these nutrients through good mulches and well-made compost, but not only do we need the nutrients, we need them in specific amounts in relation to each other.

That’s why we use a small amount of specific organic fertilizers, to move towards these ratios. Organic matter generally can’t do it alone, so this is a vital step.

And then there are other broad-spectrum organic garden fertilizers, sometimes called biostimulants, that provide the crucial micronutrients that microbes and plants need.

In the long run, you’ll get higher yields by applying less organic fertilizers. You just need to apply the right ones, and that’s why a soil test is so crucial as one of the tools that helps you decide which fertilizers to apply.

In 2008, I started The Organic Gardener’s Pantry to sell organic gardening fertilizers. I moved in 2010, but my friend Christina still has the business going strong.

And one of the bonuses of getting these organic gardening products out into the world was that I was able to see how effective they could be since I had hundreds of clients using them.

Nowadays, I use a small number of mineral organic fertilizers that are mined naturally without the use of chemicals, and other fertilizers that come from plants and the sea (and no, I don’t use miracle gro organic garden soil or fertilizers).

Here are all of my articles on organic fertilizers…

Dry Fertilizer – Give Soil These 3 Important Minerals

Dry Fertilizer

I’m a big fan of organic liquid fertilizer.

But there’s also an important use for organic dry fertilizer.

I use liquid fertilizers mainly to provide small amounts of 80+ nutrients directly as a plant fertilizer, and also as a soil fertilizer.

Doing this plays a big part in helping me grow nutrient-dense food.

And yet some nutrients we need in the soil more than others, the big three in the organic world being calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

We need to have enough of them in the soil, but not too much.

(I know that npk fertilizer is stressed in the conventional world, and yes, nitrogen fertilizer is sometimes useful too, but it’s really not all that hard to get enough nitrogen – calcium is much more important to get right, so that’s my focus today).

The benefits we get when we move those three minerals in our soil towards the ideal amounts are many: healthier plants, fewer pests and weeds, better soil structure, etc.

That’s where dry fertilizer comes in… Read More

Homemade Liquid Fertilizer – 4 Do-It-Yourself Options

Watch For People Walking
I felt very lucky to spend this past week vacationing with my family on Hilton Head Island.

I recently started selling my favorite organic liquid fertilizers, the same ones I use at home.

But I also like to make my own homemade liquid fertilizer when possible, and that’s what I’m excited to show you today.

Many of our best liquid fertilizers come from the ocean.

But there are ways you can approximate them, if like me, you don’t live near the ocean.

All of these can be used as a liquid lawn fertilizer, liquid plant fertilizer and liquid soil fertilizer.

You might even make enough for multiple applications (such as monthly or weekly).

For all of these homemade fertilizers, I suggest mixing with at least 10 parts water before you spray.

That will allow the fertilizer to cover more area, and will ensure we don’t burn our plants.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt to mix with even more water… Read More

Cover Crops For Gardens – Build Soil And Control Pests

Click for video transcription

Phil: New location, it got cold again. Hey guys, it’s Phil from smilinggardener.com. If you haven’t picked up my free online gardening course, you could do that right on the Home page of smilinggardener.com. Today we’re talking about cover crops for garden.

The least expensive organic fertilizer in the world is cover crops because just for a little bit of seed, which costs hardly anything you can do your whole garden and there are a lot of fertility benefits to cover cropping. So what a cover crop is, is when you plant some seed out into your garden, usually during the offseason when you don’t have any vegetables or anything else growing and you’re doing for various reasons but usually to improve the health of the soil and of the garden in general.

Cover crops have a lot of benefits. One of the main ones I often think about is with fertility. If you were to leave your bed without any plants in it over the winter, it will lose a lot of nutrition especially if you get a lot of rain during fall, winter, spring, but if you have a cover crop in there, it’s going to retain those nutrients up into itself and then we’re going to return that cover crop to the soil in some way and so those nutrients are going to stay there. Likewise, it’s also increasing fertility by getting nutrients out of the soil.

The next one is weed and pet control, which I was talking about a couple of weeks ago. With weed control, just by having a crop there that densely covers your soil, it’s going to shade out and crowd out a lot of weeds from starting in the fall and again in the spring, but also many cover crops exude these compounds, we call them allelopathic compounds; basically these toxins that stop other seeds from germinating, so it controls weeds that way. Then with predators, there are many different ways, probably through some compounds that it exudes, they’re going to control some predators but also by attracting beneficial insects into your garden and the last one is with organic matter.

A cover crop is photosynthesizing and becoming big and taking in carbon and we’re going to return that carbon to the soil, it’s going to be organic matter. So there’s a lot of fertility increases with cover cropping. So there are many benefits of cover crops. I just listed some of the main ones there and really, they just are about improving our soil and improving plant health, improving garden health.

What I want to do now is list the two different main kinds of cover crops which are legumes and grasses. So legumes are nitrogen-fixing plants, which means, they house these little bacteria on their roots and those bacteria can take nitrogen out of the air and turn it into nitrogen that can be taken up by plants. So they will use a lot of that nitrogen on their own. They may give a little bit up to the soil while they’re growing, but mostly it’s when we turn those cover crops in or do something with them before they’ve gone to seed that that nitrogen gets put back into the soil.

One of my favorites is called vetch, which you can kind of see over here and which I’ll hold up to the camera. It’s like this and it grows kind of like almost like a vine. It really grows around and it will grow up any kind of trellis or any kind of other grass that might be around it and it’s a really good nitrogen producer. It’s one of the best in terms of making a lot of nitrogen. This is a red clover, an annual clover that is another good nitrogen producer. A white clover is often a perennial clover and it will be used – it could be used in a lawn or it could be used in an orchard, as a crop it’s going to come back every year and continue to produce nitrogen.

It’s starting to rain here a little bit. Now we’re on to grasses. What I really like about grasses is that they grow big and fast. They create a lot of organic matter for the soil, they control weeds really well because they grow really big and fast and also because they exude these allelopathic compounds into the soil and they also are really good at holding nitrogen and other nutrients in the soil, whereas clover is about creating the nitrogen, the grasses more are really good at holding that nitrogen and keeping it from leaching out.

Two of the main grasses are cereal rye and annual ryegrass. And they’re both know for having these toxins that are really good at controlling weeds and they’re just very commonly used throughout much of North America. There are others, I really enjoy oats. I really love oats. They’re great for climate like mine, it’s colder and wetter. There are many others.

So the cover crop usually goes into the soil late in the summer or early fall, gives a little bit of time to establish before winter and then it will really grow a lot in the spring before we deal with it in the spring. When it comes the time to decide what you’re going to plant, there’s often going to be some local knowledge for your area. The farmers will know, but really what you need to do is just go to your – do a little research online or go to your local garden center and they’re going to have crops that are appropriate hopefully. It doesn’t matter that much. That’s why I always say – just pick something and get some kind of crop always covering your soil. What I like to do is mix a legume and a grass and then I get the benefits of both.

So I might do a rye with a vetch, or a clover with an oats, and when spring time comes, those crops are going to start growing again and you want to figure out when you’re going to be planting into your soil which you should always wait for that because we get these late cold spells like we’re having right now and I’m glad I haven’t planted anything in here yet, but what I would do is figure – and we’re going to work backwards and if I’m going to be seeding directly into the soil, a few weeks before that, I want to take out the cover crop.

Now farmers will use herbicides for this if they’re conventional farmers. Organic farmers will use some kind of a plough and what organic gardeners will use is this trusty old thing we used to get weeds to, which is a hoe and what you do is just hoe them down – hoe down, hoe them down just like you would a weed, maybe lightly incorporate them into the soil.

I’m not a fan of tilling too much, but if I just lightly incorporate them into the top of the soil, they’re going to break down faster and they’re going to retain more nutrition, especially nitrogen as less of it is going to be leached if I can lightly incorporate it. Some of it can be left as a mulch too and if you have too much or for some reason you don’t want it to be a mulch, you can move it over into a compost pit and that’s fine too. So it’s just like this. And even just by hoeing it kind of incorporates a fair amount; gets a little soil on top of it.

If you have any questions about cover crops for your garden, you can ask me down below and I’ll answer. If you haven’t signed up for my free online organic gardening course, you can do that down below. You can also join me on Facebook at facebook.com/smilinggardener. Phil out.

Phil: New location, it got cold again. Hey guys, it’s Phil from smilinggardener.com. If you haven’t picked up my free online gardening course, you could do that right on the Home page of smilinggardener.com. Today we’re talking about cover crops for garden.

The least expensive organic fertilizer in the world is cover crops because just for a little bit of seed, which costs hardly anything you can do your whole garden and there are a lot of fertility benefits to cover cropping. So what a cover crop is, is when you plant some seed out into your garden, usually during the offseason when you don’t have any vegetables or anything else growing and you’re doing for various reasons but usually to improve the health of the soil and of the garden in general.

Cover crops have a lot of benefits. One of the main ones I often think about is with fertility. If you were to leave your bed without any plants in it over the winter, it will lose a lot of nutrition especially if you get a lot of rain during fall, winter, spring, but if you have a cover crop in there, it’s going to retain those nutrients up into itself and then we’re going to return that cover crop to the soil in some way and so those nutrients are going to stay there. Likewise, it’s also increasing fertility by getting nutrients out of the soil.

The next one is weed and pet control, which I was talking about a couple of weeks ago. With weed control, just by having a crop there that densely covers your soil, it’s going to shade out and crowd out a lot of weeds from starting in the fall and again in the spring, but also many cover crops exude these compounds, we call them allelopathic compounds; basically these toxins that stop other seeds from germinating, so it controls weeds that way. Then with predators, there are many different ways, probably through some compounds that it exudes, they’re going to control some predators but also by attracting beneficial insects into your garden and the last one is with organic matter.

A cover crop is photosynthesizing and becoming big and taking in carbon and we’re going to return that carbon to the soil, it’s going to be organic matter. So there’s a lot of fertility increases with cover cropping. So there are many benefits of cover crops. I just listed some of the main ones there and really, they just are about improving our soil and improving plant health, improving garden health.

What I want to do now is list the two different main kinds of cover crops which are legumes and grasses. So legumes are nitrogen-fixing plants, which means, they house these little bacteria on their roots and those bacteria can take nitrogen out of the air and turn it into nitrogen that can be taken up by plants. So they will use a lot of that nitrogen on their own. They may give a little bit up to the soil while they’re growing, but mostly it’s when we turn those cover crops in or do something with them before they’ve gone to seed that that nitrogen gets put back into the soil.

One of my favorites is called vetch, which you can kind of see over here and which I’ll hold up to the camera. It’s like this and it grows kind of like almost like a vine. It really grows around and it will grow up any kind of trellis or any kind of other grass that might be around it and it’s a really good nitrogen producer. It’s one of the best in terms of making a lot of nitrogen. This is a red clover, an annual clover that is another good nitrogen producer. A white clover is often a perennial clover and it will be used – it could be used in a lawn or it could be used in an orchard, as a crop it’s going to come back every year and continue to produce nitrogen.

It’s starting to rain here a little bit. Now we’re on to grasses. What I really like about grasses is that they grow big and fast. They create a lot of organic matter for the soil, they control weeds really well because they grow really big and fast and also because they exude these allelopathic compounds into the soil and they also are really good at holding nitrogen and other nutrients in the soil, whereas clover is about creating the nitrogen, the grasses more are really good at holding that nitrogen and keeping it from leaching out.

Two of the main grasses are cereal rye and annual ryegrass. And they’re both know for having these toxins that are really good at controlling weeds and they’re just very commonly used throughout much of North America. There are others, I really enjoy oats. I really love oats. They’re great for climate like mine, it’s colder and wetter. There are many others.

So the cover crop usually goes into the soil late in the summer or early fall, gives a little bit of time to establish before winter and then it will really grow a lot in the spring before we deal with it in the spring. When it comes the time to decide what you’re going to plant, there’s often going to be some local knowledge for your area. The farmers will know, but really what you need to do is just go to your – do a little research online or go to your local garden center and they’re going to have crops that are appropriate hopefully. It doesn’t matter that much. That’s why I always say – just pick something and get some kind of crop always covering your soil. What I like to do is mix a legume and a grass and then I get the benefits of both.

So I might do a rye with a vetch, or a clover with an oats, and when spring time comes, those crops are going to start growing again and you want to figure out when you’re going to be planting into your soil which you should always wait for that because we get these late cold spells like we’re having right now and I’m glad I haven’t planted anything in here yet, but what I would do is figure – and we’re going to work backwards and if I’m going to be seeding directly into the soil, a few weeks before that, I want to take out the cover crop.

Now farmers will use herbicides for this if they’re conventional farmers. Organic farmers will use some kind of a plough and what organic gardeners will use is this trusty old thing we used to get weeds to, which is a hoe and what you do is just hoe them down – hoe down, hoe them down just like you would a weed, maybe lightly incorporate them into the soil.

I’m not a fan of tilling too much, but if I just lightly incorporate them into the top of the soil, they’re going to break down faster and they’re going to retain more nutrition, especially nitrogen as less of it is going to be leached if I can lightly incorporate it. Some of it can be left as a mulch too and if you have too much or for some reason you don’t want it to be a mulch, you can move it over into a compost pit and that’s fine too. So it’s just like this. And even just by hoeing it kind of incorporates a fair amount; gets a little soil on top of it.

If you have any questions about cover crops for your garden, you can ask me down below and I’ll answer. If you haven’t signed up for my free online organic gardening course, you can do that down below. You can also join me on Facebook at facebook.com/smilinggardener. Phil out.

The least expensive organic fertilizer in the world is – cover crops!

Cover crops for gardens are simply plants that are planted to cover your soil, especially during the off season.

And they can also be used during the growing season, interplanted with food crops or even in ornamental beds.

But they do much more than just cover the soil. Garden cover crops: Read More

Homemade Fertilizer – 2 Great Easy-To-Make Fertilizers

Click for video transcription

Phil: Hey guys it’s Phil from smilinggardener.com. If you haven’t checked out my free online organic gardening course, you can do that right on the homepage of smilinggardener.com.

Today I am talking about homemade fertilizer, now I don’t mind buying the occasional fertilizer for my garden if I know it’s gonna really help and prove garden health but I also really like to use fertilizers that I can make or scrounge from around my property because it’s a lot more sustainable and it’s free and so today I am, what I am gonna be doing is sharing just two, there are many different things you can use but what I want to do is focus on two that pretty much everyone can use in their garden.

The first one is urine and I know it sounds kind of crazy but this is a really important one, so here is some of my urine which I know is really gross for a lot of people but I want to make an important point here, by the way molasses is also really good in the garden, but today I am talking about urine. Urine is nontoxic, and actually urine is not really all that yellow, may because of the sun yellow today but if you are drinking enough liquids urine becomes much more clear but I really want to get across is that if you are reasonably healthy person, urine is not toxic and I am gonna show you that by pouring some on my hands which probably gross some people out and I apologize for that but what I want to show you, you can drink urine if you have to, not something I am really interested in doing but urine is not toxic, it’s not a place where all of your toxins go in your body.

Urine is such wonderful stuff, I have read that it basically has on an average I am sure varies a lot but somewhere around 11 g of nitrogen, 1 g of phosphorus, 2.5 g or potassium and I am sure has other nutrients that your body didn’t use as well especially if you take supplements and multivitamins, you may have heard someone say you are just peeing all of that money into the toilet, that’s not entirely true, you get some of it but you do pee some of it, so that’s gonna be in here too.

So, it’s a very nutritious thing, of course it’s a little easier for guys to sprinkle a little bit of urine around in the garden here or there or maybe talked away in a private spot. One reason why it’s really nice to put a compost pile maybe in a corner somewhere and you can go and pee in there because it’s really great to do in the compost pile but otherwise what you can do is, I mean you can pee right in the garden too, otherwise you can pee in something like this and then you can go and use that to water your plant.

Now if you are watering your plants directly, you want to mix it with 20 parts of water, so yeah 20 times as much water as urine but otherwise you can go pee right in your soil and on your mulch around your plants without too much trouble. The best thing to do would be to flush your toilet out into your compost pile or into a wet land you have created to handle all of that and to recycle all of that. One of the main problems there is that many bylaws don’t allow for that but if you live in a place where you do it’s a great way to just recycle all of that stuff and bring that nutrition into your garden instead of sending it into the sewer system.

I did some math once and I am not sure how accurate it was but I figure that if you just peed or applied urine to 10 square feet of garden twice a year, you are applying a lot of the nitrogen needs of the garden. I am not sure exactly how accurate that is but I figure I mean if I pee on each of these trees ocne a month that’s plenty of nitrogen for those trees. So that’s urine, it’s not gross, it’s totally awesome, so start peeing in your garden.

The next thing on my list that pretty much, anyone can do as long as long as you have some grass clippings and some weeds around, it’s great something called a herbal tea and what you do is you take all these herbaceous plants and put them in a bucket with water and ferment them for a few days to a couple of weeks. Any kind of weeds and grass clippings will do, it’s specially nice if you have some nutrient accumulating weeds such as dandelions are pretty good, comfrey, yarrow, stinging nettle. I don’t have most of those though so I just use whatever I have.

I do have a couple of legumes, vetch, and clover, which I also like to include but I have, something I have most is just this garlic mustered which I don’t think is the most nutritious weed but of course it has nutrition in it. I have grass clippings, they have nutrition in it. so all of those can go in there and what this does is it gets the nutrients off the weeds. It also gets the beneficial microorganisms off the weeds. We put in here, we ferment them and so it becomes this kind of fermentation like you to ferment yogurt or beer or something like that and it becomes this kind of nice tea, we can apply to our plants.

Now it’s entirely optional but if you happen to have any kind of microbial inoculants like EM which is what I use often and bio-stimulants like rock dust, some kelp, sea minerals, any of that stuff I often talk about, you can put them in there and you don’t have to because I am trying to make this a homemade video, you don’t need that stuff, but it just makes them even better tea, dandelions and some oats, some garlic mustered, a bit of vetch and clover, a bit of grass clippings, water, water, now that is full of water I need to cover it because this is more of a fermentation that I want to do without air. I don’t have a lid but this is actually kind of cool because if I put it in here I can push down, it will spill some of the water but I am making sure there is really no air in there now and I am just going to let this ferment for a couple of weeks.

It might smell a little bit but if I keep it covered it should be okay. If you have a lot of weeds, you can do this in a much bigger bucket too and then when are done after a couple of weeks, you can just water your plants to give them a nice amount of broad spectrum nutrition and some beneficial fermenting microorganisms. So those are two of my favorite simple, everyone can make a homemade fertilizers. If you have any questions about homemade fertilizers you can ask them down below, if you haven’t signed up for my free online organic gardening course, you can do that down below and you can also join me and my sister over on Facebook at facebook.com/smilinggardener.

Phil:Hey guys it’s Phil from smilinggardener.com. If you haven’t checked out my free online organic gardening course, you can do that right on the homepage of smilinggardener.com.

Today I am talking about homemade fertilizer, now I don’t mind buying the occasional fertilizer for my garden if I know it’s gonna really help and prove garden health but I also really like to use fertilizers that I can make or scrounge from around my property because it’s a lot more sustainable and it’s free and so today I am, what I am gonna be doing is sharing just two, there are many different things you can use but what I want to do is focus on two that pretty much everyone can use in their garden.

The first one is urine and I know it sounds kind of crazy but this is a really important one, so here is some of my urine which I know is really gross for a lot of people but I want to make an important point here, by the way molasses is also really good in the garden, but today I am talking about urine. Urine is nontoxic, and actually urine is not really all that yellow, may because of the sun yellow today but if you are drinking enough liquids urine becomes much more clear but I really want to get across is that if you are reasonably healthy person, urine is not toxic and I am gonna show you that by pouring some on my hands which probably gross some people out and I apologize for that but what I want to show you, you can drink urine if you have to, not something I am really interested in doing but urine is not toxic, it’s not a place where all of your toxins go in your body.

Urine is such wonderful stuff, I have read that it basically has on an average I am sure varies a lot but somewhere around 11 g of nitrogen, 1 g of phosphorus, 2.5 g or potassium and I am sure has other nutrients that your body didn’t use as well especially if you take supplements and multivitamins, you may have heard someone say you are just peeing all of that money into the toilet, that’s not entirely true, you get some of it but you do pee some of it, so that’s gonna be in here too.

So, it’s a very nutritious thing, of course it’s a little easier for guys to sprinkle a little bit of urine around in the garden here or there or maybe talked away in a private spot. One reason why it’s really nice to put a compost pile maybe in a corner somewhere and you can go and pee in there because it’s really great to do in the compost pile but otherwise what you can do is, I mean you can pee right in the garden too, otherwise you can pee in something like this and then you can go and use that to water your plant.

Now if you are watering your plants directly, you want to mix it with 20 parts of water, so yeah 20 times as much water as urine but otherwise you can go pee right in your soil and on your mulch around your plants without too much trouble. The best thing to do would be to flush your toilet out into your compost pile or into a wet land you have created to handle all of that and to recycle all of that. One of the main problems there is that many bylaws don’t allow for that but if you live in a place where you do it’s a great way to just recycle all of that stuff and bring that nutrition into your garden instead of sending it into the sewer system.

I did some math once and I am not sure how accurate it was but I figure that if you just peed or applied urine to 10 square feet of garden twice a year, you are applying a lot of the nitrogen needs of the garden. I am not sure exactly how accurate that is but I figure I mean if I pee on each of these trees once a month that’s plenty of nitrogen for those trees. So that’s urine, it’s not gross, it’s totally awesome, so start peeing in your garden.

The next thing on my list that pretty much, anyone can do as long as long as you have some grass clippings and some weeds around, it’s great something called a herbal tea and what you do is you take all these herbaceous plants and put them in a bucket with water and ferment them for a few days to a couple of weeks. Any kind of weeds and grass clippings will do, it’s specially nice if you have some nutrient accumulating weeds such as dandelions are pretty good, comfrey, yarrow, stinging nettle. I don’t have most of those though so I just use whatever I have.

I do have a couple of legumes, vetch, and clover, which I also like to include but I have, something I have most is just this garlic mustered which I don’t think is the most nutritious weed but of course it has nutrition in it. I have grass clippings, they have nutrition in it. so all of those can go in there and what this does is it gets the nutrients off the weeds. It also gets the beneficial microorganisms off the weeds. We put in here, we ferment them and so it becomes this kind of fermentation like you to ferment yogurt or beer or something like that and it becomes this kind of nice tea, we can apply to our plants.

Now it’s entirely optional but if you happen to have any kind of microbial inoculants like EM which is what I use often and bio-stimulants like rock dust, some kelp, sea minerals, any of that stuff I often talk about, you can put them in there and you don’t have to because I am trying to make this a homemade video, you don’t need that stuff, but it just makes them even better tea, dandelions and some oats, some garlic mustered, a bit of vetch and clover, a bit of grass clippings, water, water, now that is full of water I need to cover it because this is more of a fermentation that I want to do without air. I don’t have a lid but this is actually kind of cool because if I put it in here I can push down, it will spill some of the water but I am making sure there is really no air in there now and I am just going to let this ferment for a couple of weeks.

It might smell a little bit but if I keep it covered it should be okay. If you have a lot of weeds, you can do this in a much bigger bucket too and then when are done after a couple of weeks, you can just water your plants to give them a nice amount of broad spectrum nutrition and some beneficial fermenting microorganisms. So those are two of my favorite simple, everyone can make a homemade fertilizers. If you have any questions about homemade fertilizers you can ask them down below, if you haven’t signed up for my free online organic gardening course, you can do that down below and you can also join me and my sister over on Facebook at facebook.com/smilinggardener.

I don’t mind buying the occasional organic fertilizer to improve the health of my garden.

But I’m also a big fan of making a homemade fertilizer for plants.

There are a bunch of possibilities, but today I want to keep it simple with 2 homemade fertilizers everyone can “make”… Read More

Natural Organic Fertilizers – How To Choose For Your Garden

Click for video transcription

Phil: Hey guys it’s Phil from smilinggardener.com, if you haven’t checked out my free online organic gardening course, you can do that right on the home page of smilinggardener.com.

Today is a beautiful day to be talked about natural organic fertilizers. If you want to compare an organic fertilizer with a conventional chemical fertilizer. The organic often doesn’t look like that greater value because the NPK numbers are usually very low but organic has a number of benefits. Often it’s going to have many more nutrients than just NPK but more important to me is first of all it’s nontoxic which means it’s not going to kill your soil life which is a good thing.

Also it’s often better to apply lower doses of nutrients anyway like if you are applying a 20-20-20 that’s really hard on your soil and on your plants, so there are number of different benefits to organic first thing I really want to mention is what is organic in this context, it really just means anything that we are allowed to use in our organic garden, we often get these rules from organic farming because they have all these standards laid out and now for the last few years we have had the SOUL organic standard for urban gardens too. So, you can follow up the SOUL standard.

So, if you are looking for something, you really want something organic. If it says organic based that really probably means it’s mostly chemical. If it says natural or environmentally friendly those are not bad boards but they are not regulated, so they really don’t mean anything. So it’s okay if it says that but you don’t want them to pick as fertilizer based on that, when in doubt. If you really don’t know much about reading ingredients, you can go for something that’s only listed which is right there. Only listed and that says it’s allowed to be used in organic farming.

I often divide fertilizers in my head into two groupsand the first is mineral fertilizers that means rocks basically different kinds of rocks like calcytic lime stone or a glacial rock dust, these are what I think of is being the main soil builders. You put them in your soil over the course of many years they break down and they provide the essential nutrients for your soil and for your plants. Most of these need to be applied based on that soil test that we did, since most people don’t do soil test you really don’t want to apply many of them, for example I have one right here, that’s a beautiful product, it’s called rock phosphate.

This one is granulated, you could see it there, it contains mainly calcium and phosphorus, wonderful stuff but only if you need calcium and phosphorus, now lot of us do but if you don’t it’s not going to be something you want to add. So most mineral fertilizers, we don’t want to be adding. If you can find a glacial rock dust that’s the one you can add without doing any of these testing because it has a broad range of nutrients. So that’s alright, another issue with the mineral fertilizer is they can be pretty hard to find.

If you are hard core organic gardener like me and you don’t mind look in forming, finding a store, tracking him down that’s alright but they are too expensive to shift from long distances and sometimes it takes some work to find them so that’s a little bit of an issue and that’s why I love the other group of fertilizers which I call the biological fertilizers. With the mineral fertilizers are the rocks, the biological is basically anything that was once alive and it’s now being turned into some kind of a fertilizer. So very briefly I have mentioned that a lot of biological fertilizers we are use to using organic gardening, I don’t use anymore because they are being derived from genetically modified plants, that’s like cotton seed meal and canola meal and all kinds of things like that.

Now I am very strict on this compared to a lot of organic gardening experts. A lot of peoples still advocated the organic standards don’t allow it, so I just I don’t use it and I don’t want to support the genetic modification movement so I use other things. So, I will tell you what I do use if you are wondering why I dance around so much on my videos it’s because I drink a lot of tea that’s a cool product, wonderful full of nutrients, full of natural growth hormones, really wonderful stuff for feeding your plants, along the same line is a fish fertilizer, I don’t tend to use that anymore because if there are sustainability issues around it but it is a really great fertilizer especially for nitrogen and phosphorus.

Other ones right from your own home is molasses, it’s a wonderful for your fertilizers, it’s brings all kind of vitamins and sugars for your microbes. My favorite one, I am going to talk about this stuff more in the future but my favorite one is ocean water, this happens to be a product, it’s very concentrated ocean water where most of the sodium chloride has been removed but it am going to talk about these more another time but there all these products, a lot of them come from the ocean.

You know the see minerals technically isn’t a biological but I kind of lump it in with the biological that you can use without any kind of a soil test, they bring in dozens sometimes 80 plus nutrients. They are not going to cause any imbalances, they are great to use, you can sign up from my free online course that’s smilinggardener.com. If you are on YouTube, you can subscribe to get more videos, if you are Facebook, you can like me, if you are somewhere else you can high five me whatever it is you do all these different social media sites, I will see you next time.

Phil: Hey guys it’s Phil from smilinggardener.com, if you haven’t checked out my free online organic gardening course, you can do that right on the home page of smilinggardener.com.

Today is a beautiful day to be talked about natural organic fertilizers. If you want to compare an organic fertilizer with a conventional chemical fertilizer. The organic often doesn’t look like that greater value because the NPK numbers are usually very low but organic has a number of benefits. Often it’s going to have many more nutrients than just NPK but more important to me is first of all it’s nontoxic which means it’s not going to kill your soil life which is a good thing.

Also it’s often better to apply lower doses of nutrients anyway like if you are applying a 20-20-20 that’s really hard on your soil and on your plants, so there are number of different benefits to organic first thing I really want to mention is what is organic in this context, it really just means anything that we are allowed to use in our organic garden, we often get these rules from organic farming because they have all these standards laid out and now for the last few years we have had the SOUL organic standard for urban gardens too. So, you can follow up the SOUL standard.

So, if you are looking for something, you really want something organic. If it says organic based that really probably means it’s mostly chemical. If it says natural or environmentally friendly those are not bad boards but they are not regulated, so they really don’t mean anything. So it’s okay if it says that but you don’t want them to pick as fertilizer based on that, when in doubt. If you really don’t know much about reading ingredients, you can go for something that’s only listed which is right there. Only listed and that says it’s allowed to be used in organic farming.

I often divide fertilizers in my head into two groupsand the first is mineral fertilizers that means rocks basically different kinds of rocks like calcytic lime stone or a glacial rock dust, these are what I think of is being the main soil builders. You put them in your soil over the course of many years they break down and they provide the essential nutrients for your soil and for your plants. Most of these need to be applied based on that soil test that we did, since most people don’t do soil test you really don’t want to apply many of them, for example I have one right here, that’s a beautiful product, it’s called rock phosphate.

This one is granulated, you could see it there, it contains mainly calcium and phosphorus, wonderful stuff but only if you need calcium and phosphorus, now lot of us do but if you don’t it’s not going to be something you want to add. So most mineral fertilizers, we don’t want to be adding. If you can find a glacial rock dust that’s the one you can add without doing any of these testing because it has a broad range of nutrients. So that’s alright, another issue with the mineral fertilizer is they can be pretty hard to find.

If you are hard core organic gardener like me and you don’t mind look in forming, finding a store, tracking him down that’s alright but they are too expensive to shift from long distances and sometimes it takes some work to find them so that’s a little bit of an issue and that’s why I love the other group of fertilizers which I call the biological fertilizers. With the mineral fertilizers are the rocks, the biological is basically anything that was once alive and it’s now being turned into some kind of a fertilizer. So very briefly I have mentioned that a lot of biological fertilizers we are use to using organic gardening, I don’t use anymore because they are being derived from genetically modified plants, that’s like cotton seed meal and canola meal and all kinds of things like that.

Now I am very strict on this compared to a lot of organic gardening experts. A lot of peoples still advocated the organic standards don’t allow it, so I just I don’t use it and I don’t want to support the genetic modification movement so I use other things. So, I will tell you what I do use if you are wondering why I dance around so much on my videos it’s because I drink a lot of tea that’s a cool product, wonderful full of nutrients, full of natural growth hormones, really wonderful stuff for feeding your plants, along the same line is a fish fertilizer, I don’t tend to use that anymore because if there are sustainability issues around it but it is a really great fertilizer especially for nitrogen and phosphorus.

Other ones right from your own home is molasses, it’s a wonderful for your fertilizers, it’s brings all kind of vitamins and sugars for your microbes. My favorite one, I am going to talk about this stuff more in the future but my favorite one is ocean water, this happens to be a product, it’s very concentrated ocean water where most of the sodium chloride has been removed but it am going to talk about these more another time but there all these products, a lot of them come from the ocean.

You know the see minerals technically isn’t a biological but I kind of lump it in with the biological that you can use without any kind of a soil test, they bring in dozens sometimes 80 plus nutrients. They are not going to cause any imbalances, they are great to use, you can sign up from my free online course that’s smilinggardener.com. If you are on YouTube, you can subscribe to get more videos, if you are Facebook, you can like me, if you are somewhere else you can high five me whatever it is you do all these different social media sites, I will see you next time.

There are a handful of very useful natural organic fertilizers for you to choose from, especially if you look online.

The hard part is knowing which ones to choose, but I’ll give you a few things to look for.

Natural organic fertilizers don’t look like much of a bargain compared with the high nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium numbers on chemical fertilizers, but they’re so much more valuable.

They often provide many more nutrients than just N-P-K, they don’t hurt soil life, and it’s generally better to add lower doses of fertilizers anyway. Read More

Amazon Jungle Lesson 1 Of 3 – Mineralization

Click for video transcription

Phil: Despite the fact that you can hear, may be a chainsaw in the background. We are in fact in the jungle.

Welcome to the first three videos about how to improve the health of your garden, especially the health of your soil. What we’re going to do is, we’re in our cabin right now in the rain forest. But we’re going to be going for some walks this week right into the jungle to learn about how we can learn from the jungle, from nature to improve the health of our garden. Admitively, this first video is actually a little more about how our garden differs from the rain forest. But it’s still going to be interesting to compare the two.

And the first thing I want to talk about is mineralization of your soil or balancing your soil fertility. All of the three videos I’m going to shoot are of equal importance. But I usually start there, because when I go in to a new garden or when I install a new garden, I want to often get a soil test on it and send it off to a lab and it takes a couple of week, sometimes to get the results back and then I can think about mineralizing the soil, fertilizing the soil. But I want to do that right away, so I can send that off to the lab to get those results.

So first of all, what I’m going to be talking about today is soil fertility. So what can we learn from the forest about fertility? Well, we can learn a lot of things and some of them are going to come in latter videos. But if you think about a forest, nobody fertilizes the forest, there is nobody bringing in calcium or any kind of fertilizer.

And that’s why a lot of people think, oh, I don’t want to fertilize my garden. Nobody fertilize, is the forest or a prairie and if I just make composed is very popular in the organic world and that’s going to be sufficient to fertilize my garden. And I kind of understand that. But what I want to just talk about today is, why our garden is different and why I think you do want to do a little bit of fertilizing in your garden and I’m going to give you a few tips today on how to do that.

The reason the forests doesn’t need fertilizing is because something is always going to grow here, unless you have soil that’s incredibly toxic or something like that. Even then, there are plants for every situation. And so what happens in a forest or anywhere that’s natural is you have… when you hardly have any soil, you have plants that come in, they’re called pioneering species, they’re often nitrogen fixing plants, but there may be various kinds of plants and microorganisms, likings they come in, they spread up, of course, this takes decades and centuries, but eventually that the right plant for the soil here and for the climate… is that a monkey? Is going to come in. And most of the plants that spread are not going to grow, but that’s okay, because some will grow and eventually you have this cool forest.

So that’s really why you don’t need for laser in forest, something is… there is always something that’s going to come in. You can do the same thing in your garden if you want to and I’ve actually known a couple of people who have done that, which is just to let the weeds grow up and we call them weeds, but they’re really just plants. And what they’re going to do is to kind of improve of your soil overtime, more species of plants will come in, may be eventually after decades or centuries, it becomes the forest like this or may be not. But it will be a garden kind of.

The reason we want to fertilize is because we want to dictate which plants come in, we want to plant them and we want to make sure, they would grow there and we want them all to live, not just 10% of them and we want to thrive. If you leave your garden alone, it’s … is it going to produce tomatoes or strawberries or big, beautiful award winning roses, from most of us, the answer is no. It’s a… most of those plants didn’t evolve where we’re trying to grow them, they came from often and another continent entirely and most of them aren’t and perfectly matched for our soil conditions. So it doesn’t mean you can plant them and may be get some more key plants. But if you want really healthy plants and that’s when a little bit of fertilizers can help. And you don’t need a lot, it’s actually amazing, just how little you need to tweak the system to make it work for plants like these.

The easiest way to know which fertilizers to use is to go and get a soil lab that is very organically minded, get them to analyze your soil. They’ll tell you which macronutrients and micronutrients are lacking or imbalanced in your soil and then they will tell you what to bring in and how much to bring in. It’s really easy to do that way. The most gardeners skip this step, many of them still have fine gardens, but if you’re trying to grow really healthy plants that are free of pests and especially what I’m interested in, it’s food that is really full of nutrients, that’s when I think this step is worthwhile just to get a soil test and do a little bit of fertilizing.

The reason we need a soil test is because we want to add the right nutrients. That’s not just N, P, K, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, it’s not even things like dolomite, lime, which people often add just for good measure. Those can often cause problems. What we want is to know exactly which minerals we need to add in there. And that’s why often, blended fertilizers that you buy from a garden centre or a fertilizer supply place are not right, because they may be bringing in some of the nutrients you need, but they may be bringing in some of the nutrients you already have enough or too much of and then you just further shifting things out of balance.

That being said, there is one kind of fertilizer you can bring in without a soil test and that is rock dust. Usually from a glacial source or volcanic source, you can get it from something more of a specialty fertilizer store or you can go right to a query and get it if you’re willing to do some testing to make sure it’s good and it doesn’t have any problems with that. But you can bring that in and what it does is, it brings in a broad spectrum of nutrients. So it doesn’t bring in a lot of any nutrient, which means it’s not going to throw anything out of balance and that’s why you can use it without a soil test. So you can bring it in, it’s going to make sure you have just a base of lots of different nutrients and you’re not going to cause any problems.

And although it may seem kind of weird to bring in rock dust, a lot of experimentation around the world is shown that it works. Even though, our soil is usually do have at least a little of every nutrients, they really do. Bring in the rock dust in has done a lot of good in gardens and even in forests. Another thing we can do is called foliar fertilizing, which means we’re spraying things like ocean water, just straight ocean water from a clean source or cults that’s been made in to a liquid. We spray that on to our plants and it’s especially useful during the early growing stages of plants or when your soil may be isn’t popping enough to make your garden really grow healthy.

Now paradoxically, you actually need to have a reasonably healthy soil, especially you need enough calcium in order for the plants to be able to take up these nutrients through their leaves. We get all those minerals down into the soil, they get in to the plants, the plants then have all the micronutrients to create the enzymes in order to be healthy, in order to maximize photosynthesis and do all of these plants processes. And then the really nice thing for us, if we’re growing food, is that we get to eat the plants that have the micronutrients in them. And even if you’re already eating a healthy diet, if you’re trying to eat organic food, a lot of our organic food, especially the industrialized organic food is pretty low in nutrition.

So that’s why I’m really in to growing my own food and trying to use these different methods to get fertility both in to the soil and directly in to the plants, so that I get to get that fertility in to me latter and then I can be healthier. So what I really wanted to share today is, more how as I said, a garden is different than a forest. It’s different because we want to control which plants grow. We want them to be very healthy. We want everything we plant to live and thrive and produce all nutrient dense food for us or at least be for growing ornamentals, have beautiful flowers and we free of test and so that’s really what I was talking about today.

In the next video, I’m going to talk about something different, but it relates very much to fertility and to water. It’s much more about how we can emulate nature in our gardens. For those of you watching who are not in the Smiling Gardner Academy, which is my online, very comprehensive organic gardening course, where I teach soil testing and mineralization and soil fertility and all of these things I’ve been kind of talking about today are you… if you’re interested in that, you might want to check it out this week, because the price is actually going to be going up on Monday night.

Phil: Despite the fact that you can hear, may be a chainsaw in the background. We are in fact in the jungle.

Welcome to the first three videos about how to improve the health of your garden, especially the health of your soil. What we’re going to do is, we’re in our cabin right now in the rain forest. But we’re going to be going for some walks this week right into the jungle to learn about how we can learn from the jungle, from nature to improve the health of our garden. Admitively, this first video is actually a little more about how our garden differs from the rain forest. But it’s still going to be interesting to compare the two.

And the first thing I want to talk about is mineralization of your soil or balancing your soil fertility. All of the three videos I’m going to shoot are of equal importance. But I usually start there, because when I go in to a new garden or when I install a new garden, I want to often get a soil test on it and send it off to a lab and it takes a couple of week, sometimes to get the results back and then I can think about mineralizing the soil, fertilizing the soil. But I want to do that right away, so I can send that off to the lab to get those results.

So first of all, what I’m going to be talking about today is soil fertility. So what can we learn from the forest about fertility? Well, we can learn a lot of things and some of them are going to come in latter videos. But if you think about a forest, nobody fertilizes the forest, there is nobody bringing in calcium or any kind of fertilizer.

And that’s why a lot of people think, oh, I don’t want to fertilize my garden. Nobody fertilize, is the forest or a prairie and if I just make composed is very popular in the organic world and that’s going to be sufficient to fertilize my garden. And I kind of understand that. But what I want to just talk about today is, why our garden is different and why I think you do want to do a little bit of fertilizing in your garden and I’m going to give you a few tips today on how to do that.

The reason the forests doesn’t need fertilizing is because something is always going to grow here, unless you have soil that’s incredibly toxic or something like that. Even then, there are plants for every situation. And so what happens in a forest or anywhere that’s natural is you have… when you hardly have any soil, you have plants that come in, they’re called pioneering species, they’re often nitrogen fixing plants, but there may be various kinds of plants and microorganisms, likings they come in, they spread up, of course, this takes decades and centuries, but eventually that the right plant for the soil here and for the climate… is that a monkey? Is going to come in. And most of the plants that spread are not going to grow, but that’s okay, because some will grow and eventually you have this cool forest.

So that’s really why you don’t need for laser in forest, something is… there is always something that’s going to come in. You can do the same thing in your garden if you want to and I’ve actually known a couple of people who have done that, which is just to let the weeds grow up and we call them weeds, but they’re really just plants. And what they’re going to do is to kind of improve of your soil overtime, more species of plants will come in, may be eventually after decades or centuries, it becomes the forest like this or may be not. But it will be a garden kind of.

The reason we want to fertilize is because we want to dictate which plants come in, we want to plant them and we want to make sure, they would grow there and we want them all to live, not just 10% of them and we want to thrive. If you leave your garden alone, it’s … is it going to produce tomatoes or strawberries or big, beautiful award winning roses, from most of us, the answer is no. It’s a… most of those plants didn’t evolve where we’re trying to grow them, they came from often and another continent entirely and most of them aren’t and perfectly matched for our soil conditions. So it doesn’t mean you can plant them and may be get some more key plants. But if you want really healthy plants and that’s when a little bit of fertilizers can help. And you don’t need a lot, it’s actually amazing, just how little you need to tweak the system to make it work for plants like these.

The easiest way to know which fertilizers to use is to go and get a soil lab that is very organically minded, get them to analyze your soil. They’ll tell you which macronutrients and micronutrients are lacking or imbalanced in your soil and then they will tell you what to bring in and how much to bring in. It’s really easy to do that way. The most gardeners skip this step, many of them still have fine gardens, but if you’re trying to grow really healthy plants that are free of pests and especially what I’m interested in, it’s food that is really full of nutrients, that’s when I think this step is worthwhile just to get a soil test and do a little bit of fertilizing.

The reason we need a soil test is because we want to add the right nutrients. That’s not just N, P, K, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, it’s not even things like dolomite, lime, which people often add just for good measure. Those can often cause problems. What we want is to know exactly which minerals we need to add in there. And that’s why often, blended fertilizers that you buy from a garden centre or a fertilizer supply place are not right, because they may be bringing in some of the nutrients you need, but they may be bringing in some of the nutrients you already have enough or too much of and then you just further shifting things out of balance.

That being said, there is one kind of fertilizer you can bring in without a soil test and that is rock dust. Usually from a glacial source or volcanic source, you can get it from something more of a specialty fertilizer store or you can go right to a query and get it if you’re willing to do some testing to make sure it’s good and it doesn’t have any problems with that. But you can bring that in and what it does is, it brings in a broad spectrum of nutrients. So it doesn’t bring in a lot of any nutrient, which means it’s not going to throw anything out of balance and that’s why you can use it without a soil test. So you can bring it in, it’s going to make sure you have just a base of lots of different nutrients and you’re not going to cause any problems.

And although it may seem kind of weird to bring in rock dust, a lot of experimentation around the world is shown that it works. Even though, our soil is usually do have at least a little of every nutrients, they really do. Bring in the rock dust in has done a lot of good in gardens and even in forests. Another thing we can do is called foliar fertilizing, which means we’re spraying things like ocean water, just straight ocean water from a clean source or cults that’s been made in to a liquid. We spray that on to our plants and it’s especially useful during the early growing stages of plants or when your soil may be isn’t popping enough to make your garden really grow healthy.

Now paradoxically, you actually need to have a reasonably healthy soil, especially you need enough calcium in order for the plants to be able to take up these nutrients through their leaves. We get all those minerals down into the soil, they get in to the plants, the plants then have all the micronutrients to create the enzymes in order to be healthy, in order to maximize photosynthesis and do all of these plants processes. And then the really nice thing for us, if we’re growing food, is that we get to eat the plants that have the micronutrients in them. And even if you’re already eating a healthy diet, if you’re trying to eat organic food, a lot of our organic food, especially the industrialized organic food is pretty low in nutrition.

So that’s why I’m really in to growing my own food and trying to use these different methods to get fertility both in to the soil and directly in to the plants, so that I get to get that fertility in to me latter and then I can be healthier. So what I really wanted to share today is, more how as I said, a garden is different than a forest. It’s different because we want to control which plants grow. We want them to be very healthy. We want everything we plant to live and thrive and produce all nutrient dense food for us or at least be for growing ornamentals, have beautiful flowers and we free of test and so that’s really what I was talking about today.

In the next video, I’m going to talk about something different, but it relates very much to fertility and to water. It’s much more about how we can emulate nature in our gardens. For those of you watching who are not in the Smiling Gardner Academy, which is my online, very comprehensive organic gardening course, where I teach soil testing and mineralization and soil fertility and all of these things I’ve been kind of talking about today are you… if you’re interested in that, you might want to check it out this week, because the price is actually going to be going up on Monday night.

Welcome to the first of three steps on how we can learn from nature when it comes to improving garden health, especially organic soil health.

(You’ll see me swatting at mosquitoes and these other biting bugs here and there – they sure were thick when we got deep into the jungle).

All three steps are equally important, but the first I tend to think about is balancing soil minerals, the main reason being that I want to get a soil test analyzed as soon as possible when I’m working on a new garden because it can take a couple of weeks to get results.

Admittedly, this first post is more about how our organic gardens differ from a forest with regards to fertility than how it is the same, but it’s a very useful comparison. Read More

Is 10-10-10 Fertilizer Really The Best Garden Choice?

10-10-10 Fertilizer

10-10-10 fertilizer is certainly one of the most popular fertilizers. This week, I received a great question about the nutritional difference between it and compost:

Most bags of compost and manure say they have about .1-.1-.1 of the big 3. I have tested my own compost and it is somewhat higher but still not in the 10 10 10 range recommended for most plants. So, how do you get enough without using fertilizers? Is 10-10-10 the same as .1-.1-.1? Am I missing something?

I’m really glad you asked. There are 3 things I’d like to address…

Read More

Garden Fertilizer Tips – How And When To Fertilize

Garden Fertilizer Tips From The Sun

Today I continue with the garden fertilizer tips.

Last week, I outlined a basic fertilizer schedule and received a couple of comments from people who disagreed with my suggestions, so I thought I’d address their concerns here in more detail.

I always appreciate any feedback people have to give, even when it runs counter to my advice. Some great learning opportunities come when we have these discussions.

Read More

Fertilizer Schedule – When To Fertilize For Results

Soil Building Fertilizer Schedule

If you want a fertilizer schedule to follow, I have some tips for you.

Fertilizer companies often create a schedule for you that outlines exactly when to fertilize, but that’s often done to maximize their revenue, not the health of your garden.

The thing is, there’s no such thing as an off-the-shelf fertilizer schedule that is right for every garden. We can, however, follow some well-established guidelines.

Read More

Sustainable Fertilizer – Should We Use Lime Deposits?

Is Lime Sustainable Fertilizer?

Mining limestone is big business, but does it give us a sustainable fertilizer?

The world’s biggest limestone quarry is right near the top of the state of Michigan on Lake Huron. It’s 7000 acres, roughly half the size of Manhattan.

I’m not sure how much of the material from this particular quarry goes toward agriculture, but lime is one of the most important fertilizers in organic gardening.

Read More