This is more the chemistry side of things. Not all plants need fertilizer, but when you’re trying to grow especially nutrient-dense food, it can really help.
This series is about when to fertilize, what to use, where to buy it, and how to apply it.
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.
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.
My favorite liquid organic fertilizer is called Sea-Crop.
When choosing which organic garden fertilizer to use, sometimes you’ll be choosing organic fertilizers to improve the soil, while sometimes you’ll be feeding plants directly.
When feeding plants, I especially use liquid fertilizers such as my 3 favorites – kelp fertilizer, fish and sea minerals – for the broad array of nutrients and other important substances they provide.
This article is about feeding plants, and more specifically, it’s about something interesting I’ve learned from various research that’s been done over the years. It turns out that it’s more important for plants to have consistent “nutrient access” to even just a small amount of fertilizer than to apply that fertilizer all at once.
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…
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.
10-10-10 fertilizer is one of the most popular fertilizers.
This week, I received a great question about the nutritional difference between 10-10-10 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 glad you asked. There are 3 things I’d like to address…
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.
There are many organic fertilizer products available online.
Many are not particularly good (potentially even harmful), so I thought I’d browse through and make a list of the best organic fertilizer options for you.
Update: The Organic Fertilizers I Use
I originally focused on fertilizers sold at Amazon.com, but have since stopped supporting Amazon, so I’m now in the process of removing those links.