Tips For Growing Tastier, More Nutritious Food

First, a video:

Most grocery store food is nutrient-poor, and when you’re a new gardener, yours will almost certainly be, too.

But the more experience you get, the better your food will become – IF you figure a few things out.

If you don’t figure these things out, it’s possible to grow edible yet nutrient-poor food for your whole life.

If you do figure things out, your food will taste better, and most important, will be substantially more nutritious.

I’ve never had a magic touch with plants, but I do have an enthusiasm for figuring things out, which is why my gardens have gradually been able to grow such great food.

Below, I’m going to share with you a few tips to help you do the same…

My Approach To Organic Gardening

Applying Organic Fertilizers
If you don’t know me, you can read more here. In short, I’m a gardener.

This photo shows my garden when I was first building it.

You’ll notice:

  • The wheelbarrow with my own organic compost,
  • A bale of straw from a local biodynamic farmer, and
  • A combination straw and leaves as a mulch on the garden.

I’m a big fan of getting as much nutrition as possible from my own property and the neighborhood.

But I also want to grow the healthiest plants and most nutrient-dense foods I can.

When I was new to organic gardening, I tried various organic fertilizers, but they didn’t bring any noticeable changes.

I eventually went deep into studying organic fertilizers and microbial inoculants and I started to use a small selection of them.

Microorganisms help our plants get nutrients as well as protection from disease.

My Organic Garden
My strawberries in my old garden (one of which I’m holding here) are deep red, sweet and juicy, 13-15 brix, and no longer have pest problems.

And nutrients are important for everything that happens in a plant, from growth to fruiting to defense against predators.

What I’ve noticed since I started using these products is that:

  • The decrease in pest problems throughout most of my garden – and on my indoor plants – was noticeable in a short time.
  • Most of the food I grow has a higher brix (i.e. is more nutritious and tastier) than any food I buy from the grocery store, which means my family and I are healthier as a result.
  • My flowers, shrubs and trees have more vibrant colors and longer blooming periods and an overall vitality that is clear (I talk a lot about growing food on this page, but the benefits are there for ornamental plants, too).

Where You Can Get These Products

My Organic Garden
I come through this garden at least every month with some kind of organic fertilizer application, just to make sure the plants have access to the beneficial microorganisms and nutrients they need.

I make my own concoctions, and in these pages, I’ll teach you how to make some yourself.

I use some purchased products, too.

I tend to favor liquid products that allow for spraying plants directly because foliar fertilizing is more efficient than soil fertilizing.

I spray my garden at least monthly to make sure my plants have access to the beneficial microorganisms and nutrients they need.

Local garden centers don’t have most of what I’m looking for, so I’ve always had to get them online.

And since there’s no place that sells them all in one spot, I recently decided to sell them right here, to people in the U.S. (if you’re in Canada, you can go to the Organic Gardener’s Pantry, which carries many of the same products).

By the way, if you can find these products from your local garden center, I encourage you to support them. 

In that case, these pages will help you figure out how to find high-quality versions of each product, as there’s a lot of junk out there.

Here’s What I Use In My Organic Garden

If possible, it’s a good idea to apply less fertilizer, more often, rather than just dumping it all on at once in the spring.

So I come through at least monthly and when I have the time, I’ll even cut the application rate by 75% and do it weekly instead – especially useful during late spring and summer when plants are growing the most.

Here’s what I use:

Microbial Inoculants

Most gardeners focus on fertilizers (let’s call that the chemistry of the soil), but just as important is the life in your garden (the biology).

Microbial inoculants bring that biology, the beneficial microorganisms that are often deficient in the garden for various reasons. We need them back in there to feed our plants and protect them from disease.

The main thing for this is a small amount of high-quality compost in spring and/or fall – just a dusting of 1/8 inch or less is all you need in most cases.

That’s something you can make yourself or buy locally.

And then there are these products:

  • SCD Probiotics or EM. Definitely my favorite microbial inoculant. I use it often along with molasses, liquid seaweed and either sea minerals or liquid fish.
  • Mycorrhizal fungi. Some of the most important soil microorganisms in the world. I always use this inoculant during planting, plus I’ll apply it one time into an established garden if it wasn’t done during the original planting of that garden.
  • Compost tea. Excellent for increasing microbial diversity. It’s a more involved process, so I don’t recommend it for the casual gardener, but I use it at least a couple of times a year.

Liquid Organic Fertilizers

While we’re bringing the biology back into the garden, we want to make sure our plants have access to the nutrients.

And we want to go beyond just nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to give them all of the dozens of elements they need. 

Again, good compost is key here. Good compost provides a huge array of nutrients.

You can also make your own herbal tea fertilizer by combining a bunch of weeds and fresh grass clippings in a container, filing it with water, covering with an air-tight lid, and leaving it for a few days or, even better, a few weeks.

I do this all the time. The only downside is, unless you get weeds from other places, you’re only bringing in the nutrients that are already abundant in your soil, not the ones you need the most.

Regardless, I use some some excellent products, too:

  • Liquid seaweed fertilizer. An organic gardening standard that’s especially known for boosting plant health. I use it at least monthly with EM or compost tea.
  • Sea minerals fertilizer. My favorite organic fertilizer for providing broad spectrum nutrition. I use it every other month with EM or compost tea, rotated with the liquid fish below.
  • Liquid fish fertilizer. Another excellent organic fertilizer, a great source of nitrogen and phosphorus. I use it every other month with EM or compost tea, rotated with the sea minerals above.
  • Molasses. Molasses is used along with EM to feed the microorganisms in the EM.

Mineral Fertilizers

Last, I occasionally use the most important dry mineral fertilizers to improve soil fertility.

While liquid fertilizers are great for feeding both soil and plants with a wide array of nutrients that can help in the short term, dry mineral organic fertilizers are used for boosting long term soil nutrition.

Here are a couple of notes:

  • Rock dust can be used by everyone, without a soil test, regardless of your soil type.
  • For the most part, specific elements such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and micronutrients are only used based on a soil test.

For these dry fertilizers, if you can find them in your local area, you may get a slightly better deal because the shipping can make them more expensive online. 

But the big difficulty for most people is finding them in their local area at all, so that’s why I’m offering them here and I’m actually able to do so at fairly good prices.

From a customer: “Not only is your plant elixir a knockout but your ingredients just did for our very pathetic and rapidly going downhill rose garden more than I could imagine was possible. In 72 hours. I showed Mary last Fri and again today because we had black spot fungus, saw fly, and aphids. I am expecting zero of any of those in a month. And you should see the beautiful new growth, waxy healthy green leaves. They needed those lipids. Our sweet alyssum/beneficial habitat border is teeming with life so if aphids are lurking somewhere, they will soon become lunch for somebody. Charlottesville saw an aphids invasion in April. Never before so soon or so many. I believe we are aphid free. Unbelievable. Again, we are just ecstatic. Thank you, thank you!” Elizabeth

How To Choose?

To keep things simple, I’m going to create 3 categories – beginner, intermediate, advanced – to give you some tips on what to buy, whether from me or your local garden center.

I’ll also suggest how much you need per 1000 square feet (100 square meters) of garden space for the year, although if you have 1500 or even 2000 square feet, you could still get by with these amounts, and if you have less than 1000 square feet, these products will last for 2-3 years or more.

Here’s what I suggest…

Start With These

This is if you want the most important products for boosting garden health that really provide the best value for your money:

Then These

This is if you’re interested in rounding things out a little more.

Perhaps you’re growing food and you really want to get the nutrition in there, or you’re growing flowers that you really want to bloom as long and full as possible.

So in addition to the beginner products, you can add in:

  • Mycorrhizal fungi. 1/2 pound for each 1000 square feet if you’re watering it into an existing garden, but if you’re applying it to new plants and seeds, 1/2 pound goes much further than that and is all most home gardeners need.
  • Liquid fish fertilizer. 1 quart for each 1000 square feet for the year.
  • Molasses. Along with EM, use molasses at 1 quart for each 1000 square feet for the year.

Maybe These

The 2 lists above are the most important, but some people will find these useful:

  • Rock dust. I suggest 50 pounds per 1000 square feet, but you can do much more or less.
  • Compost tea brewer. A five-gallon brew will do up to an acre, but compost tea is rare in that you can use it all on just a small garden, too.

How To Use These Products

Applying Microbial Inoculants
Applying effective microorganisms back in 2007 – a hose end sprayer works best.

I like liquid products that I can spray directly on my plants.

Of course, we want to create healthy soil, too, and when I’m spraying my plants, a lot of the liquid falls on my soil, so I’m getting both at the same time.

For spraying, I mostly use this hose end sprayer, because it allows me to get the big dilution ratios that are optimal, such as a 1:250 dilution of EM to water. I just can’t get that dilution with a backpack sprayer.

I do use a backpack sprayer for my compost tea because I prefer to apply it undiluted, but everything else goes through the hose end sprayer.

I’ve created this application rate calculator to help you figure out how much of each product to apply for your area…

How Much Does This Cost?

My Organic Garden
I like to locate many plants close together to reap the benefits of such a dense, diverse system.

When people calculate how much ‘value’ comes out of a food garden, the results vary dramatically. 

It often works out between $1000 and $3000 worth of food per 1000 square feet.

It can be less than that and it can be more, but what’s been clear in my garden is that the cost of using organic fertilizer and microbial inoculants is low compared to what I get back.

The first-stage products work out to 70-something dollars per 1000 square feet for the year, and the next-stage products add another 40-something dollars. 

It’s clear that the increase in yield and nutrient-density is worth much more than that.

Whether you’re growing food or ornamental plants, the act of growing healthier plants and creating a healthier soil food web brings many other benefits as well, such as fewer pests and diseases to eat your plants, and lower maintenance costs overall because plants are healthy.

Affordable, Fast Shipping

I ship in the United States only.

Shipping is $15. I wish I could charge less, but even at this rate, I lose almost all of my profit to shipping costs. (Shipping is $30 to Alaska, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.)

I ship from St. Louis, 7 days a week, so it usually takes just 2-5 business days to get to you (e.g. 2 days to Chicago, 4 days to New York and Houston, 5 days to LA).

Products ordered by 2 p.m. usually ship the same day. After that, they ship the next day.

Note: Dry fertilizers and compost tea brewers ship separately so they will arrive on their own maybe a day or 2 apart from the other products.

100% Money-Back Guarantee

Most companies selling organic fertilizers might have a 30-day refund policy – if you’re lucky – as long as the package is unopened.

But how are you supposed to know if you like a product before you’ve even tried it?

And most of the products I carry don’t do all that much for your garden after only one application – it’s after a few applications when the benefits really kick in.

So if you’re going to buy these products from me, I give you a full 1-year guarantee because I want you to have a chance to actually use the products for the full growing season.

Nobody else is offering a guarantee like this, probably because they don’t want customers taking advantage of them, but I know my customers have integrity and will only use the guarantee if they truly feel they deserve it, and I also know most people are going to be very happy with the results.

If you didn’t think my products provided you with the value you were looking for, let me know and I’ll give you a full 100% refund.

The bottom line is that I want you to be happy with your purchase, and I want to play a big part in improving the health and success of your garden.

Giving Back

With every order, I send a donation to my favorite organization, Thrive For Good.

They’re helping communities implement the following integrated activities:

  • Organic Gardening. Several organic techniques are used to grow food all year round.
  • Nutrition. They incorporate crops that yield maximum nutrition.
  • Natural Medicine. Each community garden includes a portion of medicinal plants that are used to prevent and treat diseases.
  • Income Generation. Once community members are growing and thriving on the harvest of their own gardens, they provide training to help them bring their surplus to market.

A Few Closing Thoughts

My Organic Garden
This is the new organic garden in the 1st season – plant health is not optimal here yet, but after a few years of improving the biology and chemistry, it’ll produce tasty, nutrient-dense food!

Whether you make your own products or buy some from me or somewhere else, here are the main points to remember:

  • Organic matter. Use compost, leaves as mulch, grass clippings, whatever you can get your hands on.
  • Biology. 

This is the new organic garden in the 1st season.

Plant health is not optimal yet, but after a few years of improving the biology and chemistry, it will produce tasty, nutrient-dense food.

I hope I can help you do the same.

And if you have any questions about any of this, let me know in the comments down below.

If you prefer, you can instead email, but with email, it may take a little longer to respond.


  1. How to I introduce earth worms in my raised bed garden ?

    1. If you have them in your soil and the bottom of the raised bed is touching the soil, they should come up on their own when the conditions are right for them.Otherwise, you can buy some at a various places – especially stores that sell stuff for fishing. If conditions are right for them, they’ll stay around. If not they’ll leave (or die, unfortunately).

      1. How would you recommend using bio ag for controlling smell where dogs have used the bathroom. I do pick it up but the pee does have a scent. Got all products ordered and can’t wait to use them in the next week. Thanks Phil and look forward to your reply.

        1. Yes, it should help. You can spray it undiluted, or I would dilute it 1:10 or even 1:100. I also spray it undiluted in my composting toilet every day.

      2. Lorelei Fenton says:

        Hello Phil. I do not see any way to put a new separate comment to ask a question, so here it is. My garden is small, relatively speaking. So calculations per 1000 feet do not compute. 😂 I am using your products mixed in amounts you suggested. per gallon with a watering can. How long do I hover over one plant applying the mixture? Counting a second as 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3 one thousand- how many seconds per plant? Also everything is mulched- even many of my vegetables. Will the mixture get through the mulch? Should I do it longer if it is mulched. Or must I, heaven forbid, move all the mulch every time? Many thanks. 🌹

        1. It’s hard to answer the counting question because there are several variables, but I would say although you won’t hurt anything standing there for several seconds, 1 second is probably about right.

          As for the mulch, some of the fertilizers will get through, and some will do good within the mulch, so nothing to worry about there.

    2. Please be careful about buying worms – the red wrigglers that can be purchased, often from Pennsylvania, are invasive and damage the forest eco system when they escape. People fishing often do this when they are done fishing and there are some left and if a garden is too close to the forest or someone shares plants with the worms in the soil, they can be spread. The forest is a fungal based system and worms can turn it completely around to a bacterial system which is detrimental to that ecosystem. I have an article from Cornell about this if anyone is interested.

      1. Yes, Linda is right about this. This issue may come to the forefront in the future.

        1. Hi, Phil,
          I tried researching the above issue on the Cornell University website. While I did find several articles about “invasive worms,” I did not find any references to the “red-wriggler.”

          Please post what you know about this concern. Thank you!

          1. I don’t think Eisenia fetida is an issue. It’s other species of worms that are indeed causing problems – Lumbricus terrestris, Amynthas agrestis, and others.

      2. Do you recommend using water structuring devices on the water supply or just on the water this used for brewing. Do you recommend places that sell ceramic powders? Thanks

        1. I used to use ceramic powder, but I don’t anymore, so I haven’t kept up with it. I haven’t looked into how to structure water for your whole water supply but I imagine it could be worthwhile.

        2. Ross Braun says:

          Received the fungi and have not used yet. Will soon insert into root zone for native plants in rain garden and surrounding area. Thank you.

      3. Thanks for sharing that, Linda! We live in PA, and my son did purchase red wrigglers in the state to start a vermicompost system in my backyard. A few years later, the vermicompost was all put into my food and yard waste compost pile. He does get worms from the pile to fish. I’ll need to find the Cornell article to share with him.

        1. Linda – What is the title of the Cornell article? The search for red wriggler on their site brings up MANY articles (mostly about using the red worms for good purposes). Thanks for your help.

    3. I just watched your video on the use of your 2 favorite fertilizers. I believe my soil is in desperate need of help. Too much fertilizers , weed killer and pesticides used based on what I found in the shed. I stopped using anything in Jan 2015. I’m converting my lawn using Florida Friendly guidelines . I’m a new to this and attend lectures and watch your videos. I want to remove all my dead grass and convert to SFG with butterfly/bee garden. The sprinkler system is deteriorated and needs replacing. I have approximately 0.4 of land. Would you replace the sprinkler system first then amend the soil? Also, would you use the compost made by the city collected from yards like mine? I intend to start a worm farm and compost pile in my yard. Thanks Phil.

      1. Of course, the easiest would probably be to remove the sprinkler system, amend the soil, and then put in the new system, but I understand that may cause some scheduling complexity. Other than that, it’s hard to say, not knowing your situation, but usually the hardscaping (e.g. sprinklers, sidewalks) are done before soil amending. And yes, I’ve occasionally used city compost – it may have some chemical fertilzier/pesticide residue, but we do need the organic matter. In the long run, I much prefer my own compost.

    4. marvel herlache says:

      My lawn is planted on poor soil on an underlying base of clay. I am having trouble keeping weeds out and keeping it alive. Will your beginner package do anything to help starving lawns? Thanks

      1. It could – I’ve seen EM and mycorrhizal fungi dramatically improve a sick lawn – but a compacted clay soil usually needs more love than that, such as core aeration followed by topdressing with good compost and fertilizers/inoculants.

    5. Love your website by the way. I really need some advice on how to proceed. I have a 1/2 acre field of pulverized granite, no topsoil and invasive weeds (home construction site). This is what has been done to present: manually pulling weeds 3 days after spraying with 20% vinegar, 1 cubic yard of organic compost and 1 cubic yard of broken down horse manure, mixed in fresh worm castings, seeded the field with indigenous wildflower seeds & white clover with plenty of water and sunshine. Sad to say only a few seedlings made an appearance which tells me how poor my field dirt really is. I am currently digging compost trenches to invite any local earthworms to my field for help from below the surface.
      I live in central Idaho where the growing season is from late April to Sept. My next plan is to seed legumes at the end of August to generate organic matter, then in Spring to reseed with wildflowers. I am anxious to optimize what is left of this growing season but where to begin????

      1. I don’t have experience with granite soils, although I know some wine grapes are grown on them. It’s good that you’re making some improvements to your soil fertility, but when it comes to your soil texture (the granite), it would be impractical to markedly change it across 1/2 acre, so better is to work with what you have. Find out what grows on this type of soil and plant that. Perhaps there are some wildflowers that prefer this type of soil. Likewise, for this year, no doubt there are some legumes that will do better than others.

      2. You need radishes theres a certain kind u plant and leave it in . They grow a 10 ft taproot. And a sm football radish

    6. Hi Phil, your page is just what I was looking for! I’m starting a small vegetable garden, and I mean small. I built a wood raised garden box 6x1ft wide. It’s all the space I have on my small apartment balcony. Are the beginner products you talk about enough for what I’m wanting? I want to grow greens, tomatoes, red peppers and maybe a few other items. Also, do you have a favorite brand of soil? Thanks!!

    7. I have a lot of oak trees that have provided natural leaf compost over the years. It has developed on its own along a corner of my back fence where I blow the leaves, I have not done anything else. Even if leaves are left piled up on plain concrete the worms will find it and dig in with no help from us. Whenever I want good worm castings or to harvest worms themselves I brush off the fresh leaves and then pull back the top layer of decomposing leaves (kinda like pulling back turf cause it is a compacted layer about 1-2 inches thick) and dig all the castings that I want. I have at least 6 inches of rich worm castings directly under that layer in multiple places all along the fence. Afterward, I place the top layer of compacted leaves back on top and water it in for the future. Best of all it is totally free except for my labor (guess it is a good thing I like digging).
      I introduce the worms to my raised beds after all the digging and turning of the soil is complete and ready for planting by digging a 6″ deep hole every few feet and bury a dozen or more worms in each. Then I try to mimic their normal environment by keeping leaf mulch mixed in the top inch of soil to keep the worms fed.

    8. I can say Phil stands up for his product. He is the first distributor that checked to see how I was doing. Thank you so much for checking up on me!

      When I got the “stuff,” I was confused about using it, and I could not find the link for directions, and now I have your email. Thank you. And I will have questions for sure, I will use this area.


  2. Phil, we need more videos…Your the best…Have a Great Day…!

  3. This is fantastic! I had to scrounge around extensively to find anyone online that would sell the dry fertilizers I needed for my soil test and then combine that with stuff from various sellers on Amazon. Now it’s all in one spot with really top-quality info to go with it!I have one question about spraying, though: do you think a simple watering can would be a good solution?I agree that spraying through a hose is not as good as back-pack sprayers because the hose water is a) cold and b) chlorinated; however, I find that (no matter how hard I fight against it) I tend to avoid using my backpack sprayer because a) its hard to get on and off and b) takes a long time to fill and rinse.It seems to me that a watering can will a) fix the chlorine and temperature problems because you can easily let it sit overnight at room temp and b) fix the backpack problems because its significantly easier to maintain (i.e. zero maintenance).

    1. Glad you found me David! If your garden is small enough, a watering can is certainly a reasonable option. The only downside is that it can be difficult to get a fine enough water droplet so that the water sticks to the leaves. If you can find an appropriate attachment that creates almost like a coarse mist, you’re off to the races.

      1. Hi Phil, do you know anything about Chloramine? I hope I am spelling that right. I first found out about it when buying aquarium fish and was told that I would need a treatment for the water as Chloramine has been added to our water for maybe ten years or so? I was told that unlike chlorine, Chloramine does not offgas. Just wondering if this would also be bad for any microbes that you are trying to spray? Seems like that is probably the purpose of treating our water supply with it- to kill pathogenic (and collaterally; beneficial) microbes.Thanks

        1. Yes, both chlorine and chloramine aren’t great for microbes. Ideally, we’d remove it from our irrigation water, but that can get expensive. It’s not as though it’s going to kill off everything, but it’s harmful enough that it’s just another good reason to build our soil so that it can hold as much water as possible – that way we can water less and let the rain do more of the work. As for microbial inoculants, the microbes in EM seem to be able to deal with chlorine and chloramine okay, and my understanding is that so do the spores in mycorrhizal inoculants – it’s definitely not ideal, but they can handle it. But when I’m making compost tea with water that has chloramine in it, I first add a little vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or humates to tie up the chloramine. I tend to use humates at max 1 Tbsp per 5 gallons of water. I can never remember how much vitamin C one would use.

  4. Phil, I ordered your beginner & intermediate products & a hose end sprayer, I couldn’t believe it when the box was at our door the day after I ordered it, I still can’t believe it, Thank you so much!! Now my question… My husband & I are doubling our vegetable garden this year from about 400 to 800 sq ft. the new 400 sq ft is grass & you say not to til the soil, how do we get the grass out without tiling? & does turning the soil (on the other 400sq ft) with a shovel do damage to the living creatures in the soil? Sorry I’m pretty new at this way of thinking about the soil but it all makes perfect sense! Thank you so much for the free video classes that came with the products I ordered, that was a wonderful surprise & I have really learned a lot!!

    1. You can use a tiller to remove the grass. Or you could make a sheet mulch right on top of it. But I’m okay with a little bit of tilling, especially when establishing a new garden. It’s just in the long run when I like to keep it to a minimum. Turning the soil with a shovel does harm some organisms, but that doesn’t mean we never use a shovel – it just means we should be mindful to not do it more than we feel is necessary. The main thing I want to avoid is annual deep tilling of a whole bed. Glad you’re enjoying everything Patti!

      1. What about tilling in grass cuttings and leaves into the bed at start of winter and let it compost till spring planting time?I will also plant clover on this bed as a cover crop.I then till in clover a month before planting.Your thoughts please.

      2. Liz Newman says:

        We use a permaculture/ no-till approach to add raised beds right on top of grass. Just put a good layer or two (staggering to cover gaps) of cardboard directly into the grass-or weeds- before you build up the bed. We use wet hemlock 2×12’s from a nearby mill to make the sides, and then layer in great stuff, heaped above the top (it will settle). We top it off with overlapping 2-3 layers of non-toxic newsprint and add mulch, and voilà.
        By the time the cardboard deteriorates and contributes to the soil, there is no way the grass will grow up through the bed. Soil horizons below are left undisturbed.
        Note 1: if you have access to a broadfork, you can use it to open up the soil below without tilling, before adding the cardboard.
        Note 2: You can extend the cardboard a foot beyond the edges of the bed to keep the surrounding grass away- easier for mowing (and preventing grass from dropping seeds into the bed if your mowing is not diligent).
        Note 3: cardboard boxes work great for this. Remove tape and labels, and avoid the ones with shiny coatings/print. I flatten and save boxes, and collect extras when I see them in neighbors’ recycling bins. Around the edges, you can add new layers when they break down, or put wood chips on top.

        1. Thanks for sharing, Liz!

  5. Hi Phil- I have been reading on and off about your tips for gardening and I have a lot of questions. We have been planting a few vegetables in one end of our garden which has ornamental plants throughout and have had decent results, but really we tend to forget to weed, and as the summer goes on, I will neglect the garden, mainly because I really don’t know what to do and when. This year, we want to build our own vegetable garden in a raised bed. My question is what kind of soil should we get and put in? The garden will probably be no bigger than 100 square feet. Would you suggest the starter pack along with the soil you suggest? I live in Minnesota, and the growing season can be short or lengthy. We love our vegetables, as do our dogs as they eat raw organic vegetables as part of their diet as well.Any and all tips to start our garden are welcome.Thanks,diane

    1. Hi Diane, my preference for raised beds is to mix together 75% topsoil with 25% good compost. But it in bulk rather than bags to save a lot of money. And then yes, my beginner recommendations are certainly the most important to get started with – they’ll get your most important biology and nutrients in there, especially calcium. If you can get a bit of a leaf or straw mulch on top, that will help with many of the weeds this year.

  6. Phil, I have received results from a soil test with recommendations for sustainable gardening. The results stated that the main issue was excesses of calcium, magnesium and potassium and recommend adding elemental sulfur, boron and zinc sulfate in addition to several things you recommend such as fish emulsion, molasses and foliar spray. This is an existing garden we started several years ago. We have heavy clay with rock so initially amended with lots of mushroom compost, topsoil and landscape mix. Would you agree with this recommendation or do you have other suggestions. Also, I purchased micronized azomite, would this be good to add and if so, how would I use it? I am very pleased to see that you have the products you recommend available to purchase.

  7. Justin Gay says:

    Hey Phil. Would any of the fertilizers you carry be good for young plant starts? I’m looking for something to feed them as soon as their true leaves show up.

    1. Ya, I especially like liquid seaweed and liquid sea minerals for fertilizers, plus EM/SCD Probiotics for beneficial microorganisms.

  8. dmharvey8 says:

    Hi Phil: I have been reading about Biochar. Do you use it, and recommend it? I haven’t seen you mention it before

    1. My concerns with biochar are partially about how much energy is required to create it on a large, industrial scale. And then in terms of small scale, there are concerns about it imbalancing soil fertility. I’m sure there could be benefits, but so far I really prefer using a quality compost without the charcoal.

      1. Jeff Chasser says:

        don’t listen to someone that doesn’t know what they’re talking about anybody can copy and paste articles on to a website do your own research read books don’t listen to someone who just trying to make money of people.

        1. Jean-Paul , Los Angeles, Sunny Southern California says:

          If you’re unhappy go elsewhere. I’ve been home gardening since i was 8 years old, plus i lived on a farm for years. Yet, PHIL has taught me so much that I was really astonished. Plus he emailed me a very informative series by email every two weeks. Here’s the surprise – I emailed him twice to thank him for all the great info that i asked if I could send him something for all it, and he said no.
          Its been a few months and I learned a lot just by his email series and his videos on youtube – I love is knowledge and TODAY i am joining his online course!
          Great work Phil, Immense knowledge, Generous, smart and great to deal with. And yes I will give back by buying from his store…everything
          I’ve said must be true because – just look at all of these very happy people who are following….keep up the good work Phil!

  9. Hi PhilIn addition to feeding my 200 sq. ft. frontyard garden I would like to feed my lowbush blueberries, (zone 7b). I know the mycorrhizal fungi will benefit them, what else in the beginner batch, (I thought I’d start there), can I use on the blues?Thanks.

    1. Actually, blueberries are a rare case when it comes to mycorrhizal fungi – they use a very specific type that is pretty difficult to find and is not included in the product I carry. So even with my blueberries in my garden, I didn’t inoculant them.Also something that is very rare to say for plants, there’s some evidence that they’re not huge fans of calcium, so I would skip the calcium carbonate. They do love sulfur though, so a tiny amount of elemental sulfur (like 1 teaspoon per ten square feet of soil) is probably a good thing. Other than that, the EM/SCD Probiotics and seaweed from the beginner package are definitely good bets. They also often need nitrogen in the early years, which is where liquid fish can be very helpful.And they love lots of organic matter, which for me means compost. Plus, while I don’t use much in the way of wood chips in my garden, I do use them around blueberries because they’ll help encourage fungi, which is good for blueberries. Hope that helps!

  10. The following words were six of the most depressing I’ve read in a while “I ship in the U.S. only.”

  11. Our 1 acre lawn is being destroyed by our 2 new puppies and 3 other dogs. HELP! I don’t want to add chemicals that hurt us, our animals, or the environment. What can I do?

    1. Do you mean urine or digging or something else?

      1. It’s a combination of traffic (we have them chained in different area or runs, they play hard, run hard), urine, digging, etc. where do I start? I did apply corn gluten for weeds so far. should I lime, aerate, etc?

        1. If the dogs stay on the lawn, it will obviously continue to get damaged. But if you want to give it the best opportunity for recovering in between damages… well, that’s a big question. You basically want to create a healthy lawn. Aeration can help in the long run if you’re adding quality compost and fertilizers right after you aerate (otherwise it’s more like a short term band-aid solution if you just pull the cores and don’t do anything). Lime is good if your soil needs calcium (use calcium carbonate, not dolomite lime). All of my liquid fertilizers and microbial inoculants can be helpful. I especially recommend all products in my ‘beginner’ list, even for lawns: bio ag, liquid seaweed, and mycorrhizal fungi.

  12. I’ve started my seeds indoors. Even though they are still small and awaiting planting season, they are becoming quite “leggy”. What am I doing wrong?

    1. It’s generally due to not enough light. Even if you’re using fluorescent lights, which seem bright to us, it’s not nearly as much light as they would get outside. My recommendation is to add more light and position it within a few inches of the top of the plants.

  13. I started my seeds indoors a few weeks back. They are now “leggy” and getting taller but not many leaves. What should I do?

  14. Phil, I received the elemental sulfur in addition to the liquid seaweed and Pro Bio. They arrived soon after I ordered them. Thanks so much for all your work tracking down these quality fertilizers! The sulfur is on the garden already. I started the Probiotics. I tried the oven with the light on first, but It would only get to 80 degrees. I have an ancient dehydrator that is about the size of a small microwave and has a temperature control. I removed the shelves and wah-la, an incubator! Works perfect, staying a constant 100 degrees. Will a PH meter work as well as PH paper?

    1. That all sounds great Melissa! Yes, a pH meter will work fine as long as it’s calibrated in good working order.

  15. What can I do for squash bores? Will making the plants healthier using your products help?

    1. For sure, making the plants healthier will definitely help. It’s just a matter of how long that will take. Sometimes a couple of applications of products like EM and liquid seaweed can make a big difference very quickly. Sometimes it takes longer to get the soil and plant to a state of health. In any case, the sooner you start, the better 🙂

      1. Noel Calvert says:

        A way to discourage insects on a short term basis until the plants are healthy is with a low strength spray of white vinegar at a ratio of 1/10 mixed with clean water. Also this evaporates or rinses easily.Another thing you have not mentioned yet Phil is Aspirin for activating the Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR) of plants to fight many types of disease & improve plant vigor.(bacterial,fungal,viral, as well as insect attack and stress due to transplant and other stimuli)An added benefit is aspirin treatment induces root growth. 1 tablet of 500MG to a bucket of 12 liters/3 gallons with any fertilizers or whatever your using is fine. I use this treatment on a weekly basis in my nursery with wonderful results. Aspirin is a synthetic form of the chemical found in willow bark that reduces pain in humans, and activates the SAR in plants.Phil, as a side note look into this if you were not aware. I am sure you will be interested.I am noticing you keep suggesting adding calcium, and fish immulsion. I am wondering if you have looked into leguminous plants/bushes/ and trees as part of your organic gardening???By adding a row of leguminous trees every 6-8 yards, you can benefit from deep roots bringing up minerals, & nitrogen fixing bacteria adding nitrogen to your system via pruning of the trees for compost. In the tropics this is being done with Inga species, and some others. Look into Inga Alley Cropping for information on this.I am currently working on an organic farming regimen that will be completely sustainable. This is how I happened on to your site looking for probiotic beneficial organism recipes for the Bokashi process.

        1. In regards to the Aspirin application, do you apply directly to the plant? Or is it better to water at the base?

  16. Phil, I received the products I ordered very quickly. Thank you. I need to inform you, though, that the bottle of N-P-K fertilizer had leaked a little in the box it was shipped in. It was absorbed by the packing paper and was not visible from the outside of the box. But, the bag of rock dust which was shipped separately just as a bag of rock dust (no box or extra covering) had sprung a small leak. The post office got nervous and scanned the rock dust and put it in another plastic bag and delivered it to me separately with an explanation. I am not writing for a refund or replacement (the amounts lost were negligible), I just thought you should know so you can inform your supplier. I hate making the post office nervous about powder escaping from items. Thank youPS…. I love the information you share with us! Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks for letting me know Rosalee, I really appreciate it. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience. Perhaps I’ll try double bagging the dry fertilizers from now on. Thanks again 🙂

  17. Phil, I just bought Sea-Crop and Neptune’s Harvest Seaweed Plant Food and I am eager to use it. Can either product be applied to the leaves during the rain or should I wait until the rain stops?

    1. I prefer to wait until after a rain, because a rain will wash some of the fertilizer of the leaves. It’s no big deal if a rain comes through a day after application, but nice to give the fertilizer a little time to get into the leaf first.

  18. Do you have recommendations for lawn care – the correct fertilizers and grass seed to use?

    1. It’s actually not really any different from garden care when it comes to fertilizers. All of my liquid fertilizers and microbial inoculants can be helpful. I especially recommend all products in my ‘beginner’ list, even for lawns: scd probiotics ‘bio ag’, liquid seaweed, and mycorrhizal fungi.As for grass seed, that depends on where you live and what kind of soil and sun conditions you have, but no matter what, a combination of grasses is generally better than just 1 species, which is why it’s nice using seed instead of sod.

  19. I am ready to do my soil analysis on a new garden. I tilled the ground last fall for the first and only time. In your gardening handbook you give two labs you recommend. My question is, would you recommend getting all the tests from both labs in this situation?

    1. Just choose one of the labs, and I say just go with whatever they recommend – not all the tests, but at least their basic test with recommendations.

  20. Hi Phil, I trust your silent meditation retreat was fulfilling. Today I applied NPK & Dextrose via a backpack sprayer. I had planted the veggie starts a week or 10 days ago. What fertilizers should I foliar spray with next, and when?I have your BioAg, Molasses, Dextrose, Sea Crop, and a Kelp powder.I remember you said that BioAg mixes well with molasses, so that could be one of my next sprays, perhaps in a week? Then I still have Sea Crop, kelp, and liquid fish.I was wondering if I should mix the Sea crop with either a liquid fish or Kelp product, as well as with either molasses or dextrose? Is one sugar better than then the other for use with the sea/fish/kelp fertilizers?How often should I foliar spray? Weekly, twice a week. I have so many different foliar fertilizers thanks to you, but I am not sure how often andAlso, can I use these same products on my fruit trees and grape vines?Thank you very much for your response.

    1. -I spray anywhere from once/month to once/week. When I’m spraying once/week (which I would tend to do especially in spring), I cut all application rates by 75%. -My sprays generally contain BioAg, Kelp, Molasses or Dextrose, Fish or Sea Crop. I tend to spray this within a few days of spraying NPK and Dextrose. Since you’re already using Dextrose with NPK, it makes sense to use Molasses with this BioAg spray. With the Fish And Sea Crop, I just take turns every other time. So: BioAg, Kelp, Molasses, Sea Crop this time and then BioAg, Kelp, Molasses and Fish next time.-Yes, you can use these same sprays on all your plants!Hope I covered everything 🙂

      1. Thanks so much for your very quick reply, Phil! Thanks for the tip about cutting the application rates if spraying weekly. Since I plan to spray weekly for first couple of months I will follow suit. Happy Gardening!

      2. Hi Phil,
        I received my order and all is good. I started with spraying diluted fungus mixed with seaweed and molasses…it took forever, the sludge of the diluted mychorrizal clogged up the sprayer… I had to keep clearing. A bit exhausting… May be helpful to consider adding what a good dilution ratio (to water)? I did finally get it all in the soil, and then we had a few hours of rain following, so that was good. Excited to start on the fertilizing routine next week!

        1. Thanks for sharing, Juliette. Sorry about the clogging. The recommended dilution rate is 1 Tbsp per gallon of water but if you’re using a hose-end sprayer, that’s not really possible to get. I shake quite vigorously to get it dissolved, sometimes in warm water. Or sometimes I use a watering can or backpack sprayer. I’ll update the application instructions to make them more helpful.

  21. Phil from Ottawa says:

    Hi Phil, Over the years of attending horticultural symposia and trade-sponsored shows I’ve encountered many advocates of compost tea and enterprises selling compost tea brewing equipment. Many claims of benefits of compost tea applications appear to be unsubstantiated. I refer your readers to The Myth of Compost Tea Revisited: “Aerobically-brewed compost tea suppresses disease” Do you have contervailing scientific evidence that compost teas are actually effective and worthwhile?

    1. Hi Phil, good question. While that article and that writer have been largely discredited, it’s absolutely true that compost tea is not a magic bullet that will transform all gardens into optimal health. It has to be a good tea, and it has to be what the garden is lacking.Rather than post a bunch of links and info here, I’ll direct you to join this online compost tea group where you can search and learn from a bunch of experienced users. It’s not an overly biased group either – many of them have had success with compost tea, but they also push for more research and will be the first to clear up the myth that all compost tea is magic: I’d also encourage you to read anything by Elaine Ingham, one of the leading experts on compost tea, whether her book or online. She’ll also be the first to say that compost tea has to be brewed right for it to bring the big benefits that are often touted. I’ve seen some pretty amazing results when that happens.

  22. Sea 90. Do you know about Sea 90 and if so do you recommend it? We use it for our livestock but i also know people that spray it on pastures, field crops and gardens and swear by it.

  23. Steph in N MN says:

    Hi Phil, I’m getting ready to order your fertilizers. I had a soil test done through the university last fall:Organic matter: 4%pH: 7.3Phosphorus ppm 100+potassium ppm 99They recommend per 100 sq. ft. (I have 1000 sq ft of veg garden).15 lb. of nitrogen0 phosphate.3 lb potashWhat do you recommend I get from you?

    1. Hi Steph, I can’t tell much from their soil test because I don’t know anything about the methods they’re using, but they’re suggesting such small amounts of nitrogen and potassium that you really don’t need to go looking for specific fertilizers that would bring in those nutrients. Instead I would look at my beginner and perhaps intermediate lists up above and those will be exactly what you’re looking for. Hope that makes sense 🙂

  24. What is the shelf life of your ProBio Balance, Liquid Seaweed Fertilizer, and ME Fungi? The order information states “for a year.” My garden space is small so I would like to be able to use these for future year’s gardens, too.

    1. I use all of them for at least 2 years. Just be sure to store them inside over winter.-ProBio Balance. They seem to put an expiry date of about a year, but I’ve activated it after several years and it still worked fine. -Mycorrhizal fungi is at least 2 years.-Seaweed and other organic fertilizers don’t have expiry dates on the label, but certainly at least 2 years.

  25. Years ago, my neighbor and I decided to make a joint garden between the houses. We have gradually gotten rid of the grass and have a fair number of plants growing. Many are ones that self-propagate which I have planted. The soil was sand – and I have worked to compost and so it is beginning to be soil-sand. My neighbor throws mothballs into the garden on a regular basis, and uses tons of pesticides, colored mulch, etc. When it rains – the whole area is temporarily flooded so all the chemicals go into my side as well. I had wanted to plant an area in vegetables but have held off because of the toxin runoff. So, that means I have to grow things on my porch. But what are the dangers of growing vegetables in plastic? I bought organic soil & compost for various sized pots. I want to do more – but if you make something and line it with plastic – it seems chemicals from the plastic will leach into the soil/plants. Your ideas are all about land. Do you have any ideas about care of pot gardens? Or making a garden on a porch??

  26. Or you can replace all of this by charcoil made by yourself from any plant waste (very cheap) and fermented vegetables from plant waste as well (you’ll find nothing cheaper in the world AND you’ll be autonomous!). This two things will replace any other fertilizer that you will ever need and the effective micro organism present in the fermentation will bring a chemical life balance to your garden that you have never seen before. Earth worms will come back without you doing nothing and slugs and snails will go away as well (it is now being understood that they play they part in a garden to not only eating unhealthy plants but providing chemicals to the soil that garden is missing).

    1. Thanks for sharing Adriano. Yes, charcoal can potentially be useful, although it can also cause problems. And fermented vegetables can be useful too, as long as they’re done right and you don’t use too much. But those things don’t “replace any other fertilizer that you will ever need.” That’s like saying if you eat kale and raspberries that you don’t need any other food – it’s true that they’re great foods, but only part of the picture. Likewise, charcoal and various fermented sources of organic matter can be useful, but are only part of what we need. And indeed if people were to use only those 2 inputs, many of them would run into problems eventually with fertility imbalances in the soil. My 2 cents 🙂

      1. Well the thing is that these two elements are not really fertilizers:- charcoil increases the humus by providing a carbon structure (like tunels and chambers) for microorganisms to be sheltered and- fermented vegetables provide ‘good’ microorganisms that will evolve on their own and replenish the soil naturally by producing a balanced eco system in you garden which will then be rich in all kinds of foods for you plants without the need of other fertilizer. These microorganisms will also attract the fungus and create the association with plant roots (Mycorrhiza) that you talk so much about and that is so important (but that you have to buy).So i don’t agree with the comparison you made of us eating only one or two kinds of foods.I’ve seen it in various permaculture farms and it does work incredibly well without the use of anything else that you may have to buy (urine is free of course). So this is for me definitely the point to start any vegetable garden since it is practically free.

        1. Exactly. If your soil is deficient in carbon or biology, which is common, these inputs could be helpful (if used correctly). If your soil is deficient in nutrients, these inputs could still help because they will supply some nutrients – but usually not all. That’s where certain fertilizers come in.For people who have time and knowledge to ferment vegetables or make compost or collect seaweed from the beach, etc., they should go for it. For those who would be happier to spend $9 on a high quality fermented inoculant like Bio Ag and $16 on a bottle of liquid seaweed, that’s a pretty efficient choice too. As for charcoal/biochar, more can go wrong there, but it’s worth experimenting. I’m a big fan of creating a lot of fertility on site, but I have no problem paying for a little help here and there in order to promote maximum nutrition. I’m sure we could go back and forth all day on this, but I think in the end, all of these practices are worthwhile to explore.

  27. Okay, I received my Basalt Rock Dust and calcium carbonate. Should I dig them in? If so, how deeply?

    1. You can dig them in just a couple of inches or you can sprinkle them on the surface and they’ll gradually work their way down in there.

  28. Antje Cobbett says:

    Hi, from Spain! I’ve subscribed to your newsletter to see whether you are doing the same or something different than I do. It seems we are doing exactly the same, I also used and use the internet for extensive research and then I try out what I’ve learnt – most of the time with great success! Seems that “proper” gardening is successful everywhere in the world! You are doing a great job with your garden, your blog and for your family!

  29. How can Canadians get your products?Easy if you live close to the US border. Just have the parcels delivered to a UPS store at a location close to you. They will hold it there for weeks for your pickup for a minimal fee ($10 – $15). I just drove over the border to the UPS store and picked mine upyesterday, …no so for “your shipping address”, just get the desired UPS store’s address and fill the info as below: (I used my name, and the UPS store address at Ogdensburg, NY)John Doe (use your name only here …note: don’t enter “UPS Store” on this line )2981 Ford St. ExtensionOgdensburg, NY 13669-3474 hope this helps, …Jim

    1. Thanks for sharing Jim!

  30. do you deliver in Canada

  31. Hi Phil,Interested to learn of how your meditation trip went.Could I ask you a favor? Since I use a 25 gal boom sprayer on my Gator would it be too much for you to give me an advanced formula for weekly spraying the garden and trees?Thanks again for all you do to help those of us trying to raise better nutritional foods.

    1. Sure, I’m happy to do that Jess. How big are the garden and tree areas and how big are the trees?

      1. Two food gardens: 1- 1140 sq ft 2- 240 sf.Multiple (15) trees from 6″ to 1/2″ many other beds:- grapes-5 vines- raspberries – 10 plants- rhubarb and blueberry 3 each- elderberry – 2- others bush berries -5Hope this helps?ThxJess

      2. Trees are caliper measurements.ThxJess

  32. hi Phil thank you for the site gardenerspantry but I am looking for rock dust

    1. I’ve found that at local fertilizer suppliers/hydroponics stores in a couple of places I’ve lived, so you could check there in your area.

  33. I have a very small garden. I see your 3 fertilizer products are good for 1000 sq ft for a year. Will they last past the first year? If so, what is the longest they will be good? Thanks!

    1. They’ll easily last 2 years if stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight, and I’ve used them for 3 years.

  34. Hi Phil, I have a question about fertilizers, About 3 weeks ago I made some up for my young plants I raised from seeds, they were still in the house under lights, I used per 1 gallon water…2Tbls Fish fertilizer, 1 Tbls liquid seaweed, 1 tsp. EM and 1 tsp. molasses. most of my plants started to turn yellow, they didn’t die but I think it burned them. this did not seem to happen the prior two times I fertilized with the Sea Crop instead of the Fish. I just planted them outside today & I’m concerned that will happen again, I will be watering with a Gilmour all purpose hose end sprayer when I fertilize. Our garden is about 1000 Sq. ft. I plan on fertilizing once a week, how much should I use of each product & what # do I put the hose end sprayer on. Thanks, Patti

    1. Hmmm, seems like you diluted the fish and everything else quite well, so I’d be surprised if that is what caused the yellowing, but it’s possible. Here’s what I do when spraying 1000 square feet weekly:-1 tsp EM-1 tsp molasses-2 Tbsp seaweed-1/4 cup fish or 1.5 Tbsp sea crop-hose end sprayer set to 1 Tbsp per gallon of water

  35. As a gardener, I have been at this for 4 years. I have an eating disorder that affects my Heath. However, as a gardener, I focus on conifers (primarily dwarf), Japanese maples, and flowers primarily to supply our house.While I have always used organic fertilizer, this year we have begun to focus on your products primarily because of philosophy. I would term our philosophy as feed the soil well and it will hopefully return the gesture.As you likely know, conifers and Japanese Maples do not need a lot of fertilizers.Next week, we are planting about a 10 year old Japanese Pine that we expect to handle the summers better. We will pay a lot of attention to the plant because we prefer to transplant in the fall. We also have 6 flowers that are annuals. Finally, we intend to plant 20 dahlia bulbs.We live in Georgia (a lot of clay) but we hauled in dirt that was customized for conifers and Japanese maples. We get significant sun.Regarding your products, how would you recommend applying your products to the plants that we intend on transplanting.Infinite thanksWes

    1. Mycorrhizal fungi will be useful for all of these plants – just rub a little bit on the root balls and bulbs during planting.Then personally, I would spray a mixture of effective microorganisms, liquid seaweed, molasses and sea minerals or liquid fish on the root balls/bulbs during planting, as well as the foliage of all plants during planting and monthly thereafter. As you said, a lot of these plants don’t need much in the way of minerals, so you might cut the application rates in half. I alternate between sea minerals and fish each month.A day or more before the above spray, you can come through with your n-p-k and dextrose (and actually you can include the seaweed in this mixture instead, because the other mixture is pretty crowded already).Your rock dust and lime can be broadcast evenly over the whole area (you may not need all the lime). Hope that helps!

  36. Do your products protect plants from the blight?

    1. Fertilizers and inoculants can’t be marketed to protect plants from pests because that would be basically claiming them to be like pesticides. What I can say is that my products often go a long way to improving plant health, and healthy plants don’t get bothered much at all by pests such. It’s definitely worth using products such as the SCD Bio Ag (EM) and the Liquid Seaweed to see what they do for you 🙂

  37. schywalker says:

    Hi Phil,I am just new into planting in container in my balcony. I love to read all your organic gardening lessons. I read about the organic fertilizer post, but I am not sure about what is good for people with just small spaces and few plants. There are three options for a beginner, but will you suggest just one thing that would be sufficient. Also was wondering if we can make a fertilizer from kelp powder? I use it as a supplement for myself, so got curious if we can use it as fertilizer.

    1. If I were to suggest 1 thing it would definitely be the Bio Ag. My second suggestion would be the liquid seaweed fertilizer, which works well combined with the first.Yes, you can make a fertilizer from kelp powder. Just mix 2 Tbsp per quart of water and then both spray and water your plants with it.

      1. schywalker says:

        Thank you so much. I will get my hand on the Bio Ag and also thanks for your app. You have made our task so easy ( I know writing a code is serious business and I am so thankful that you did that for us).

  38. Phil, I have a question about rose’s, what can I use to keep off pest’s that are eating my leaves. I would love to see what the blooms look like but the bugs wont let them bloom they eat them before I get to see them. you email me at, thanks anything you can tell me I would be ever so grateful, JAn.

    1. That’s a big question Jan. I suggest you read through a bunch of blog posts on my website and you will begin to see my answer, which is that you need to improve the health of the soil and plants and then the pests will go away. The products on this page can help a lot, as can other practices I discuss throughout this site.

  39. Have you ever considered trying to use your organic gardening methods on a commercial scale? I would love to see your methods scaled up to a level where farmers could copy you.

    1. Most of my teachings I learned from the organic farming world and have just rejigged them for home gardeners, so yes, most of what I teach can be done on the farm.

  40. Brian Michael Shea says:

    I have the EM(although I’m running out and I’m thinking about ordering the microbes from you this time around). It already has molasses in it. Should I add more when I apply it?

    1. Yes, add an equal amount again when you apply it.

  41. Could you please put a PRINT FRIENDLY or PDF option on the 15 lessons you sent out. I am a newly paid up member of the Academy but i still find this series so valuable and i would like to put them in a note book so i can make notes on them and refer back to them at my leisure (non computer) — thanks PW

    1. Hi Polly, there’s a ‘Print’ link at the top of every article.

  42. I am looking for a good, balanced, organic water soluble fertilizer for use in connection with an irrigation system. Any suggestions?

  43. Carol from Land O Lakes, Fl says:

    Hi PhilGod Bless you for being so helpful to us “newbies” on our efforts to raise organic food. I received the products I ordered from your website, and am greatly pleased!I’ve already applied the rock dust, and the mixture I saw you put together on one of your videos! My plants definitely loved it, and started showing improvementsright away. I can’t wait to spray again, and it was so noticeable. I just read where the spray would also be beneficial to my lawn, and so I will apply it there also.Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for sharing Carol 🙂

  44. Brian Michael Shea says:

    Hi Phil, I received my order from you last week and everything came fine. I also started my EM culture last week too and I’ve already used the liquid fish. Thanks!

  45. mugerwa joseph harvey says:

    the whole thing is practically good. but i need to learn more about controlling pests-especiallyfruit flies, bacterial xanthomanas competris fungal anthracnose etc..

  46. I have the best of all worlds – a generous neighbor who shares his wonderful produce. Can I get a gift him a gift certificate for your products?

    1. Hi Barb, I’ve just created a gift certificate option right above this comment seciton 🙂

    2. Tom Nauth says:

      Hi! Phil, I just bought some of your EM, and using your instructions I acti–vated a batch of Mother Culture [just to try it], Now it’s completed, how is it stored to guarantee potency? [Maybe I missed that. Thank you.Tom.N

      1. Just store it at room temperature Tom. Direct sunlight isn’t great for it, but indirect light is. For long term storage, it’s best if it’s filled near to the top of the container, so there’s not much air in there.

    3. Hi Barb, I know I responded to you by email, but for everyone else, yes, you can buy a gift certificate right above this comment box.

  47. Pete Michalowski says:

    Hi Phil,I have been using your products on my lawn and garden. The results are great and I had used a little too much at the beginning of spring without realizing it. So I did not do any applications for a about a month or 2, to kind of tone everything down. Because my raspberries, strawberries, garlic and pole beans went crazy. My tomatoes were huge this year and the raspberry plants grew 5′ to 6′ tall, the strawberries yielded 5 pounds of berries, compared to last year 1 pound. The mixture that I did was a condensed version by accident with 2 pitchers of water into a hose sprayer the same ratios as the football field. Not thinking that less was better then too much at that time. I had to cut the beans down after I had 8 pound of beans because they over powered my spinach, broccoli, carrots, lettuce and beets. This was my fault. I just was starting out this year. The lawn is doing a little better but I still am going to have to deal with the ground ivy which has been contain in certain areas right now in small batches. Earlier this year after I had the soil test done and when you emailed me with your solution to the test is when it hit me on the measurements of the mixtures I did. Wow, was I surprised at what I had done and how much I had actually gave all my plants to eat, I really over fed them. I finally got everything back to normal now since I had not done a spray for a month or 2 I will know better next year.I started to learn more on the Academy, plus the book you wrote about Building Soils Naturally really opened up my eyes and mind as to how to go about building a better lawn and garden. I am going to stay with the Academy and learn some more of your great methods on growing naturally healthy food! Thank you Phil for supplying us with your excellent products, books and videos.Pete

  48. Judy L Hayes says:

    I appreciate the honest information I’ve found here. I’ve spent years gardening/farming in the desert using sustainable methods. Moved to Oahu and its another world! Your page has helped me realize the new environment I live in has many organic ingredients I was shying away from…the sea water for one.I’ve recently started bokashi, my kitchen and garden worms have been around helping me for a while.(I call myself a worm farmer lol)I haven’t found beaches with seaweed here tho! Very odd to me so i think im going to have to purchase that. I’m hoping I can get my calcium from the shells and coral here (the dead ocean trash, not living ocean creatures). I’m curious if me crushing coral/shells and using the throw away fish parts here in my bokashi bin would be good or bad? Or useful at all? I was thinking my em1 bran would break it all down nicely to make it more available to plants (after the 2 week bokashi pickling and two week composting in ground is complete ).Gardening here is a HUGE challenge that causes us to not have enough home grown food. Tomatoes/peppers etc everyone here struggles with. I can’t live on pineapples ! I’m hoping perhaps the tools you share will help thatMahalo

    1. Hi Judy, crushing the shells and fish parts will be great. The bokashi and 2 week composting might not break them down all that much, but it will get them started and then they’ll become more available throughout the growing season. Go for it!

  49. what do you use as better than bonemeal? the linked page did not say, to my knowledge. i am especially interested in using what grows such as weeds to make natural fertilizer. unfortunately i do not think molasses is available in Sweden. as much as possible i want to be environmental and put everything to use. the only household pets i have are the small red local compost worms but i am not good at looking after them and think i have too few.

    1. I use all of the above products instead of bone meal. And yes, I used weeds as mulch, or steeped in water for 2+ weeks to make a tea to be sprayed on plants and soil.

  50. I am trying to buy 5 different kinds of organic fertilizer , total of 1.8 cu Yard. I live in Los Angeles area. If you can help please where can I get these. Thanks

    1. Can you clarify what you’re looking for?

  51. Larry Heimer says:

    PhilI’ve currently moved into the city due to my work however, where I’m currently staying for the next two years I have access to a portion of the roof deck where I’m looking into growing vegies in pot’s and small raised beds .. might you suggest a ratio of different material that I can purchase to build a good base soil to start with? In many of your lectures you emphasize on good soil and seeing I do not have soil to start with? I’ve already purchase some of your products and I’m looking to get started. Thanks, keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Larry, good question. There are actually many types of ingredients that can be used, so I can’t list them all here. Some growers just stick with a standard mixture of something like 1/3 good topsoil, 1/3 quality compost and 1/3 course sand, and that’s what I tend to use too. But from there, there are many options, depending on your goals. Also, per gallon of potting mix, I add about 1/3 cup of calcium carbonate and 1/3 cup of rock dust. Plus I use most of my other goodies when watering. Hope that helps!

  52. Max B Holbrook says:

    Phil, Good job, the supplies arrived in great condition. I am looking forward to their use when weather permits. ?, for raised beds, if you use the mycorrhizae on the roots at planting or transplanting is it necessary to spray the whole bed? Will the fungi spread throughout the bed using it just on the plants? I’m learning and enjoying it. The kudos come once I can see some results. Should I use the fungi in the soil for starting seeds?Thanks, Max

    1. Hi Max, by far the best strategy with the fungi powder is to rub a small amount on the roots during planting, and to mix a small amount in with seeds before starting or planting out. The relationship happens between fungi and plant roots, so it’s less effective to apply it to the whole soil area.

  53. Max B Holbrook says:

    Phil,Do you know about ground up coconut husks, sold by spray-n-grow, to retain water, oxygenate the soil and make it lighterThanks, Max

    1. I much prefer local compost for retaining water, oxygenating and making soil lighter. Plus it brings in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms. If coconuts are a waste material where you live and need to be used, I could see them being a useful amendment, but otherwise it doesn’t make much ecological sense to me to ship them from another country when they could be used down where they’re from just as well.

  54. michael skerra says:

    Hi Phil , Can you link me up with a list of approved & not approved fertilisers. all i get is brand names

    1. Hi Michael, not sure if this is what you’re asking for, but the SOUL Organic Land Care Standard has a list of allowed and prohibited substances.

  55. Josie Fox says:

    Hey there Phil, I am from the U.K. and therefore a bit out of your product range but I really need help, boy! Do I need help! We are turning a piece of abandoned waste ground into a community project. It has taken us 2 years to clear the land and establish plots so this is the first year we will plant crops. We are complete beginners and, as a project staffed by long term unemployed and sick, we do not have much cash but we are absolutely determined to be completely organic and to enhance the environment for local wildlife. I see from your presentation here that you are very dedicated to spreading the word. I thought I had signed up for your free intro course but I do not seem to have received the activation email. My address is you mind sending me the link?Thank you in anticipation, Josie

  56. Tom Mayhugh says:

    I have a concern that regularly adding EM to my garden plants over time will acidify the soil.

    1. The amounts we use are so tiny that there’s nothing to worry about there. And we mix it with usually at least 250 parts water, so that takes care of much of the acidity right there.

  57. I’m living with family this year and started an organic garden in the back yard. There is a preexisting raised bed that I’m debating using for planting food, however I know they have used chemicals in the past. My father in law said that he hasn’t used chemicals on that bed for five years. How do I know if it’s safe to plant organic food there? Do chemicals diminish after time? Or is it hopeless.

    1. Most of the chemicals should be gone, but I would still encourage you to apply some good compost or microbial inoculants such as effective microorganisms to assist in breaking down whatever chemicals might be left. Still, you can go ahead and plant this year and feel good about it.

  58. Help I ordered Amaze and am ready to apply it but can’t find instructions, should it be mixed with my probio, liquid seawead and endomycorrhizal inoculant or applied by itself???? I ordered these four products from you months ago and I thought there was a formula for these but I can’t find it on your site??? Thanks anxious to apply it Janice

  59. Terry Hinkle says:

    Hi Phil, The EM I started is ready for use. In general besides the garden, I am curios if you know of a resource or book that details the many known uses of this product. Living in Houston with it’s humid/mold environment there must be many uses. What is a safe amount to drink and give to the animals? Thx Much

    1. There used to be a little book years ago, but it’s not currently available.

      1. Terry Hinkle says:

        Thanks a lot and I appreciate the class offer. I do not have any free time due to work and personal issues but look forward to it in the future as it look to be a great learning opportunity.

  60. Hi Phil. I really do appreciate your teachings. After following you last year without having a garden to implement your information, this year I will be planting. I ordered your beginner products to start my garden. The thing is I’m buying a home but won’t close on it until the end of May. Fortunately, the seller is a gardener so I won’t have to start from scratch. My plan is to start planting in trays and transfer the plants when I take possession of the property. When I start the seeds can I leave them out in the open air to germinate or should they be covered. I live in Georgia and don’t expect any frost.

    1. They can germinate in the open air, as long as a heavy rain doesn’t come and cause any problems. Make sure they have full sunlight, at least after germination.

  61. Shanna Hilgers says:

    I am really enjoying learning from all your hard work, Phil! Thank you for making so much available to the gardeners of the world! I am working on my first backyard garden after living overseas for many years in tropical SouthEast Asia where everything grows year round! I’m in south Texas and, while the climate isn’t too different from Asia in the summers, there are definitely more distinct seasons. I’m growing in two raised beds that equal about 250 square feet and my plants (all from seed/direct sow) have been in the ground for 2-3 months (depending on their cool weather hardiness)…but things seem to be growing slowly. Is it okay to post specific questions in this comments section? I have been applying the products you listed in your Beginner Gardeners section for about a month. My bean plants and snap peas and green onions are all doing great. But my tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, cilantro, broccoli, cucumbers, spinach, carrots, asparagus, lavender, beets, basil and even my okra seem to still be in baby plant stage. We’ve gotten unusual amounts of rainfall in the last month and I’m a little worried things are staying too wet too often. And I have a ton of mushrooms constantly popping up (which aren’t a bad thing, right?). Any recommendations to help my little plants along?

    1. Hi Shanna, it does sound like moisture could be the main culprit, especially with all the mushrooms popping up (no, they’re not inherently bad). If the plants make it through this wet spell, you may find they take off growing soon. How did you build the raised bed? What did you use for soil? Does it seem to be draining poorly? Can you build a little hoop house or other structure to keep the rain out for awhile?

      1. Shanna Hilgers says:

        Thank you for the reply! The raised beds are walled in with wooden planks (pine, I think) and the soil was purchased from an organic garden supply spot in our area. Its hard to say how well its draining but we did recently constructed a tarp to cover most of the beds and I’m hoping this will help.

  62. Faith Nicholoff Merwin says:

    Hey there! I am a vegetarian with a huge issue with big farming and what is thought as alright quality food at the store produce isle. I have a green thumb and love my yard! I feel like I’m starving. Hahaha. I just mentally get past what my produce was grown with or near… so..after the hours my character default of information eating. I found you on YouTube! I am giving it my all to putting in this garden. I love the “looks natural” and I have to fence cause of deer. So. I am using land that was pasture for 80 + yrs. But not in the past 15. Thank you so much for your approach. My only neighbor is an Organic Farmer!!! AWESOME!!! Thank You from Upstate N.Y.

    1. Thanks for sharing Faith 🙂

  63. pat in pittsburgh says:

    I want to praise Phil for following up on my recent order, which hadn’t arrived yet when he sent me an email. He found the delay at UPS, re-sent the order with expedited shipping, and added a free gift, when the delay wasn’t his fault in the first place. I will always buy my garden and orchard supplies from Smiling Gardener in the future. THANKS, Phil!

    1. Thanks for the nice note Pat – much appreciated!

  64. I am trying to move away from traditional lawn fertilizers. I have just under a half acre size lawn. What would be your recommendation of products that I would need to start with and then to use for future maintenance?

  65. Hello, I have rabbits and they make a lot of pellets. Do they need to be composted before being applied to the garden? Also, I add earthworms to my compost pile. Is this bad? I know they sometimes get cooked in the hot grass clippings. Would it be better to add them to my garden? I figured they would get better food in the compost bin.

  66. Alli Hogan says:

    How do you get rid of bugs organically? Slugs and pill bugs are eating my ripe strawberries.Also, my strawberries are many, but tiny. That is sad because I expected bigger strawberries. I read your explanation of fertilizers, but I would not be able to find what you described anywhere.

  67. Donna Lannon says:

    Hi Phil! Thank you for checking in with me, I received my order promptly.. I didn’t realize until I recvd this msg that I could use the ProBio the way it comes and didn’t have to wait I activated more.. I read all of your literature and I will be spraying it tomorrow and brew some up to activate tonight. I have a little job helping a terrific woman with gardening and I’m going to email your post to her, and bring a “dose” next time I’m there. I’m sure she will want to order some. Are you able to comment on how, and how much ProBio you yourself used? It is warm in southern cal again, after the “May Gray” and “June Gloom” when we are overcast much of the time. We had a warm spell and then it got cold and our poor plants got confused! Question, I have used blossom set before and it seemed to help. I saw that it was 0.07% calcium. I added a smidge of a calcium citrate supplement tab to water and sprayed it on 1 set of blossoms on two tomato plants. Do you think it’s useful? Thanks for everything Phil. Oh BTW, I tell everyone I meet that gardens about you and your website!

    1. Hi Donna, are you asking about how much I drink? I drink 1 Tbsp a day. I can’t promote that for other people though because it’s not technically food grade. As for how much I use in the garden, you can read that here ( ) or use my calculator ( ).I’m not a huge fan of blossom set myself because it can cause some problems, which you can find if you research it online. It doesn’t work well for some people, but does for others. Spraying three tablespoons liquid calcium, two to four teaspoons borax, 1/3 cup liquid fish hydrolysate, 1/3 cup liquid kelp and one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in at least a gallon of water per 1,000 square feet can help fruit and seed set.

  68. I got the beginner kit. I have a small garden so bought a STIHL SG10 hand sprayer to apply plant food. Pressure is built up with a pump and just press the release button to spray. I decided to spray every other week. This sprayer holds a half gallon. Used water from the dehumidifier and added 1 tsp each of BioAg, Seaweed Plant Food and table molasses. Applied in the morning and noticed healthier tomato plants by the next day. Did the one time application of endomycorrhizal Inoculant to the soil.Question 1: How long will these premixed products last stored in the basement?Question 2: Is the BioAg and Seaweed plant food good for strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and hydrangia.So far very happy with products and service.

    1. Hi Pam, once you’ve mixed the products together, you should use them within a day. Unmixed, they’ll last a solid couple of years.Yes, these products are beneficial for all plants because they supply broad spectrum nutrients and universally-beneficial biology, so go for it on the whole garden.

  69. Julia Evans says:

    Is this or a similar product available in South Africa?

    1. I’m sorry, I’m not aware of what’s available in South Africa.

  70. Hi Phil. I am replacing my front lawn with a water-wise landscape and will be planting a lot of shrubs. I have purchased the mycorrhizal fungi and my landscape designer has also recommended adding a handful of worm castings to each of the holes as I plant. This may be a dumb question (I am new to this), but is there any concern about using both of these materials as I plant the shrubs or can I presume that they will work well together?

    1. Hi Vanessa, as long as the compost is good (i.e. doesn’t smell awful), they should work well together. Go for it!

  71. Alex Hedgepath says:

    Hey Phil,I’ve planted bare root pine seedlings and establishment is more than critical because soil erosion is the goal. I need root growth fast. If all 184 trees are already planted, is too late to apply ectomycorrhizae? How effective is the powder through a sprayer? Any information would be helpful. Thanks!

    1. Hi Alex, you’re still fine to spray the ecto. A micronized product like the one I carry goes beautifully through a sprayer, and since the trees were just recently planted, the water should quickly make its way down to the roots. Nothing to worry about 🙂

  72. Barbara Mate says:

    I have only sprayed twice and I can see such a difference already! I just inherited an orchard with the purchase of our new home. The trees are sick and I am sure it is from the overuse of chemicals and fertilizers having been sprayed for at least a decade. I have healthy new shoots prolifically growing from very sick trees. I am so excited to see if i can turn the orchard back into a healthy place. Also, I found the information on this site very informational, and ordering process so simple (and fast!). I am so lucky that I stumbled upon this site.

    1. Glad you found me Barbara 🙂

  73. 2 years ago I bought BioAg from you and still have half a bottle left. Is the product still good to use?

    1. There should be an expiry date on the bottle. I’ll often still use BioAg and ProBio Balance for a year after that, but I have pH paper to test it to make sure the pH is still below 3.8, plus I can tell by the smell.

  74. I am getting my spot ready to plant a small garden. I only grew potatoes there last year. My garden will only be around 8′ x 8′. I want to know if I can use the same stuff I ordered, { i ordered the $45 pack} on my lawn. I am trying to go organic in my whole yard. Also, can I use it on my flowers. Thanks Jenny

    1. Hi Jenny, absolutely, you can use it all on the lawn, although the mycorrhizal fungi goes much further when you’re justing using it during planting and seeding. If you’re spraying it on the whole lawn, technically you should use 1/2 pound per 1000 square feet, but even if you use less, you’ll still get some benefit. If your lawn is heavy clay and/or highly compacted, it won’t work as well because it needs to get down into the root zone. If you can get it down there, it can really help a lawn. It should be watered in after to help push it down. Ideally it’s done after the lawn has been core aerated, but most people understandably never do that. As for the Bio Ag and liquid seaweed fertilizer, they can be sprayed every month and you just need a little. Lawns take more time to get healthy than gardens, but those products definitely help. You can read more about application rate on the info pages for those products.

  75. bmroun2 . says:

    We have searched high and low for a cruelty free, vegan fertilizer and lawn care system that will not hurt the organisms in the soil. I am curious to hear your opinion about the products in the Jonathan Green Application Wheel. Thanks in advance!

    1. Good question. There’s really no such thing as a complete fertilizer ‘system,’ because fertilizing needs to be done to address the specific imbalances in your soil, generally based on a soil test. There are many products we can use to improve the soil without a soil test, but for optimal health (especially in a lawn which is often more difficult to manage ecologically because our expectations of a lawn are so out of balance with what nature would have chosen), we can’t just use a non-customized program and expect optimal results.As for a quick review of the Jonathan Green program, I only looked at the organic one, not the main programs which are all synthetic. Here are some quick thoughts:-Vegan. Not quite. They use feather meal, and they use protein hydrolysate. I’m not sure from where they’re deriving the latter – could be plants or animals like fish.-Quality. I didn’t take the time to research into the quality of their ingredients, which can be quite hard to figure out for formulated products like this anyway. Often they use cheap forms of ingredients, but I’m not sure about this brand.-Early spring, “Organic Weed Control”. It’s corn gluten meal – although moderately useful for a lawn, it’s almost certainly made from genetically modified corn, which I prefer not to use in my garden. -Late spring, “Love Your Lawn…”. This is mostly just calcium sulfate (gypsum) and calcium carbonate (aka calcitic lime, garden lime, and ag lime). Most lawns and gardens will benefit from it. It’s probably more affordable to buy straight calcium sulfate and calcium carbonate, but yes, this is worthwhile for most gardens.-Summer, “Organic Lawn Fertilizer”. There are some good ingredients in there. Worthwhile for most gardens.-Fall, “Magical”. This is just calcium carbonate, recommended at a rate of about 4.5 pounds per thousand square feet. Most lawns and gardens will benefit from it. Again, it’s probably much more affordable to buy straight calcium carbonate.Long story short, all 4 applications will benefit most gardens, although I’d personally skip the GMO corn gluten meal. The program won’t address your specific mineral imbalances, but they are a start. And they’re mostly focused on the chemistry of your soil, but they don’t do much of anything to improve the biology in your soil.I’m running out of time today, but here’s a very brief summary of how I manage any lawn or garden: -Good compost-Microbial inoculants like EM/SCD probiotics and mycorrhizal fungi to improve soil biology-Broad spectrum organic fertilizers like ocean water, seaweed and/or homemade fertilizers to improve overall soil chemistry-Mineral fertilizers – mostly based on a soil test from an ecologically-minded lab – to improve specific soil imbalances-Mulching the garden and leaving the grass clippings on the lawn-Proper wateringAll of this is vegan, except perhaps compost. Gotta run now. Hope that helps!

  76. Hi Phil, Yes I received my package and could not wait to start using the liquid fertilizers for both me and the plants as I have had a digestion problem for some time. I apply all 3 in the garden the first night. and of course I made a classic mistake of using too much neem and burned my plants. I trimmed a lot of leaves off cucumbers and tomatoes I hope they will grow back greener as my leaves were starting to turn yellow anyway. I now have worms on the cucs and melons aphids on the peppers. The first photo is today, the second photo is from April 21,2016 HELP!!!

    1. If the problem is neem/fertilizer over-application, there’s not much that can be done. New leaves may well come in and save the plant. If there’s an additional problem, like a specific insect that’s clearly causing problems, or a disease you can identify, we can try to figure something out. From the photo, I can’t tell if it’s just the over-application or if there’s a pest or disease issue.

  77. I also am not sure if I am using the hose end sprayer correctly. It came set at 4 but did not seem to suck the solution so I moved it to 10 after first pass and solution seem to move. but is 4 or 1 the recommended setting?

  78. Yes I have found worms green with 2 white lines down the back. I used a mixture of 1.5 tsp neem the same of castle soap to a gallon of water today. I also picks some off the plant and put in a separate container that I sprayed with solution to see if it affected them. They did not seem to die right away. Is my solution correct or should it be stronger. I am of course nervous now about mixing too strong a solution.

    1. Try to click ‘Reply’ in the right place Sylvia – right under my replies – that way the discussion stays in chronological order. Are the worms eating holes into your cukes or just hanging around?I use 1.5 Tbsp per gallon of water, which is 3X as much as you used there. That doesn’t mean yours is necessarily too weak, but I use 1.5 Tbsp.

  79. I recently purchased a Hudson hose end sprayer along with several products (Bio-Ag, seaweed fertilizer, liquid fish and Seam minerals). I loaded up the sprayer with one ounce each of three of the above and backstrap molasses (the proportions recommended by your calculator for a 500 sq. ft. garden) and hooked the sprayer up to a hose. I set the sprayer to one (which I believe is the most dilute setting) and began spraying our garden. Within five minutes the contents of the bottle were gone and the garden not nearly finished (I didn’t spend long with each group of plants). In addition, after I hooked up the sprayer I gave it shake and found that it leaked. When tried to tighten the bottle, the threaded plastic connection cracked (not all the way, but eventually I assume it will, rendering the sprayer inoperable).Two questions: 1) why did I run out of nutrients in the bottle so rapidly, and 2) what should I do about the sprayer? I’ve never used a hose end sprayer before don’t know what to expect.Additionally, the on-line courses (videos) you mention on the order pages of the website aren’t easy to find. Have they been replaced by the on-line Academy?Thanks,Bob

    1. 1) Hi Bob, I actually just came in from the garden where I used the Hudson sprayer to spray 15 ounces of a combination of Bio Ag, seaweed and sea minerals at a sprayer setting of 5, sprayed over 1500 square feet, and it took me 12 minutes to get through it. So if you had 4 ounces in there, at a setting of 1, I’d expect it to take (roughly) a similar amount of time, depending on the water pressure, because you had 75% less in the container, but also an 80% greater dilution rate, so that should even out. That being said, 5 minutes is enough time to do 500 square feet in my garden, but every garden is a little different. What you might want to do next time is add some water to the container to make the whole mixture last longer.2) As I recall, I’ve had 1 or 2 other people say their sprayer leaked. Certainly that seems to be common with hose-end sprayers, but I haven’t run into it. I’ll send you a new one and we’ll see if it works better for you. The thread isn’t the best thread I’ve ever seen, so I try not to over-tighten it.3) You should have received an email the same day you ordered from me with information on how to access the videos. It may have gone into your junk mail. If you can’t find it, let me know.Thanks for your thorough comment.

  80. I ordered all the basics for my trees and garden-Bio Ag, neem, em, molasses, Seaweed, and Liquid fish. I would also like to use it around a very tall and old pin oak tree that seems to be slowly dying. Is it safe to use these ingredients around pets? I hope to spray this mixture into the soil surrounding the tree.

    1. Hi Paul, yes, all are fine for pets – no problem at all.

  81. Chris Valenzuela says:

    Phil, I have a 275 gallon tote I use for a water barrel that is full of algae. Is this OK to water with?

    1. Yes, no problem at all Chris.

  82. Miki Diki says:

    I am a newbie who is struggling with my garden but hope to be a real gardener one day. So glad to have stumbled onto your site as the tips have been incredibly helpful! Hope to report back by next season with positive progress. Please keep sharing your knowledge and posting videos/blog entries. You’re making such an impact on us all especially the beginners like myself 🙂

  83. We live in South Georgia where fire ants are prevalent. This is our first year using your products in our garden and based on the sheer number of fire ants on our peas it looks like our garden is one huge ant bed. What would you recommend? Thank you for your help.

  84. Hi Phil, I want to thank you for all the great gardening advice you provide and the products supplied on your website. I bought the beginner products to help my established garden thrive. I can see insect damage on many of my plants. I have approximately 250 square ft give or take. I also bought the sprayer you recommended. My question is how often should I spray? Once a week or once a month. Also, how do I distribute the solution in the sprayer evenly over the whole garden without using it up in one spot? Any and all advice would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Colleen, there’s no one right answer for how often to spray. What we do know is the more often the better. That doesn’t mean more fertilizer is always better, but if you take the same amount of fertilizer and apply it over more applications, that’s better. So if you have time for it, weekly is great. As for not using the spray up in one spot, that mostly just means moving fast enough to get through the whole area. If that’s a challenge, you can add water to the sprayer container to give you more time.

  85. k12service says:

    Hi Phil,I just received the hose end sprayer and it’s my first time using on. I ordered fertilizing products from you but have a worm bin and quite a bit of worm tea I would like to use first. The Hungry Bin instructions read to dilute 10:1 and use on the ground. Could you help me understand the amount to put in the container on the hose end sprayer and the setting on top? Also, would this application be considered a weekly application or a monthly application in addition to other fertilizers. I basically need help starting the process with some new puzzle pieces. Thanks, Sandy

    1. Setting 10 on the hose end sprayer will give you a 1:25 ratio. That’s as low as the dilution goes on most sprayers, but that’s entirely fine for worm tea.As for frequency of application, there’s no right answer. Using a greater quantity of fertilizer (or worm tea) is not always better, but fertilizing more often generally is – ie. it’s better to fertilize weekly over monthly, even if you’re using the same amount of fertilizer overall.As for whether worm tea replaces other fertilizers, again there’s no right answer, but since it’s a ground application, I’d consider it separately from foliar fertilizing.

  86. I appreciate the information you provide. Looking at the beginner set and neem oil and knowing we are a little late in the growing season, I have a couple of questions: I assume using the products now to boost the plants before growing season ends and get a jump start on next season is a good idea. Would that be correct? Also, how should the treatment (by hose end sprayer) be spaced before or after a rain?

    1. Hi Vince, yes, applying fertilizers now is still great. Neem oil may not be needed until spring.I’m happy to apply things right after a rain, but prefer there to be at least a couple of days of dry after I apply, if possible.

  87. Hi, I am starting a new above ground garden in Buckeye, Arizona (Southern area) and and was wondering where can I get or order good quality soil and Compost or do you sell it? Thanks in advance!

  88. Was reading below, are all Red wrigglers bad or Just from Pennsylvania? Thanks

    1. They’re only ‘bad’ when they get introduced to an ecosystem where they don’t belong, so it’s not Pennsylvanian red wigglers specifically, just non-native species of living thing that can unbalance an ecosystem. Buy local worms instead.

  89. Wow thanks Phil for your very fast response. I hope you keep do what you are doing that help those people out there like me that newbi to this stuff..

  90. Hi Phil – just got a couple of your products and have been using the mycorrhizal inoculant every time I plant and have yet to use the EM (next on my list when it stops raining!)… I look forward to seeing the benefits of these products – I also wanted to say thank you and to tell you I appreciate the care and effort you put into working with your customers and providing lots of support – it has not gone unnoticed! Claudia

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to share that, Claudia. Hope the rain has stopped for you by now 🙂

  91. Stephanie Newman says:

    Love it! Love it! Love it!!

    Thank you for this GREAT info packed website! I bought the Beginners Kit and my patio garden is SO happy!! I harvested lettuce, two kinds of kale, and cilantro after planting them 18 days ago. Best salad ever!!!

    Now when I closely observe the direct effect of garden pests on my plants, I notice that the damage IS in the more sickly plants even though I bought them from a highly regarded organic, non-GMO nursery source! Each of the six plants in that starter pack the bugs are devouring yet not the other, yet similar, plants purchased elsewhere.

    So much more to learn and implement and I can’t wait!

    I look forward to seeing how the rest of this year works out in my patio garden!! The first two years the yield was inconsistent, lots of pests, and I lost interest after two months. Lots of money, effort, and hopes down the drain.

    Not this year! Plants are growing right before my eyes it seems so I’m taking photos once a week to compare results.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For the education I’ve received from!

    From one smiling gardener to the other, keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. Nice observations you made there!

  92. Liz (Elizaeth Wall) says:

    Hi Phil,

    Thanks, received order intact and started out with the BioAg. I have gardened for years and used many different products, but after reading numerous positive reviews I opted to purchase.

    I had no idea the application rate was a ratio of 1:1000, which works out to 76 drops per gallon or approx 19 drops per quart. Is this ratio the same for lawn and vegetable garden areas and just to confirm, liquid seaweed and or molasses and the endomycorrhizal fungi may be mixed together with the the BioAg then sprayed?

    I am in zone 7 but because the temperature has been fluctuating recently I hope the products help my recently planted vegetable garden withstand the changes. Will keep you posted on progress.

    1. Hi Liz, I use it at a 1:250 ratio and have never had issues, but yes, 1:1000 is often recommended, especially for sensitive plants or plants in flower. For a lawn I go as low as a 1:100 ratio, which works well. Yes, you can mix all of those together – just note that the fungi is used as a soil application only while the others can be soil and foliar.

  93. Stephanie Newman says:

    Hello, hello! I’ve purchased and applied all of the liquid items and the mychorizae fungi from the Beginner and Intermediate recommendations. Of the advanced, my two rock dusts have arrived.

    1. How best to apply the rock dust and ag lime to already planted patio garden?

    2. I’ve planted many greens, lettuces, leeks, marigolds, mint, oregano, collards, kale, basil, cilantro and tomatoes and now have problem with invading cabbage white eating my pak choy, collards, and kale so how best to apply my purchased products to prevent Cabbage White from eating my plants and laying eggs? I’ve sprayed all the purchased liquids moved in gallon of water topically and watered with it 1-2 times a week for four weeks. Please advise. Thank u!

    1. 1. It goes on the soil, so you need to get down in there. For calcium, unless you have a documented deficiency, all you need is about 1 teaspoon per square foot. For rock dust, a common amount would be more like 2 Tablespoons per square foot, although you can do 5 times that if you want when it comes to the rock dust.

      2. Just keep spraying weekly. As you know, these aren’t pesticides. They won’t get rid of pests directly. But they will help improve plant health and if plants get healthy enough, pests do go away. Of course, there are many reasons why plants may not be healthy enough, but these products will help with many of those reasons. Be sure to continue watering properly as well. Good luck!

      1. Stephanie Newman says:

        You are the best! Thank you for your response, Phill!

        I look forward to taking your courses one day. Until then, I am absorbing all the information presented on your site and in the courses I have access to due to purchases I have made.

        Keep up the good work!

  94. Sandy Powell says:

    Hi Phil,
    Received my beginners kit, but have been afraid to apply yet. We haven’t had any rain in over 8 weeks and several days over 100. Is it safe to apply these products when it is so hot and dry? Thanks! Sandy (who is praying for the monsoons to begin!)

    1. The heat isn’t ideal, but it’s not the end of the world. But if the plants are that dry, I’d probably overhead water before applying anything.

  95. Mike Gunter says:

    Phil love your blog. Need help on my container growing backyard Nursery. We grow Trees and flowering shrubs. Like crepe Myrtles, Rose of Sharon, Speciality Dogwoods, Weiglia, Blue Sprucem Hosta etc.

    What would you recommend to keep plants health and in bloom as long as possible?

    We use pine fines mixed with our own compost for potting. Drains very well. I use osmacote 14 14 14 a slow release fertilizer. All plants are on a mist system for watering. I have yellowing leaves and all the leaves fell off my Speciality Dogwoods,Pink and White. I would like to try your products but first wanted your options,

    1. Every plant is different and every soil is different, so it’s hard to give generic advice. Extending bloom time doesn’t come down to any one practice or nutrient (phosphorus is often mistakenly credited as a ‘blooming’ nutrient). Good compost is usually helpful, as is an organic mulch on top. Proper watering is a big part of it. Balancing soil nutrition with specific fertilizers based on a soil test would ideally happen. And then ensuring the plants have proper nutrition and biology is next. As I’ve mentioned up above, for nutrition, I like liquid sea minerals and liquid seaweed. For biology, I like mycorrhizal fungi and effective microorganisms.

  96. Phil,

    You have never mentioned that compost from your own plot can only contain the nutrients amd trace elements that are already in your plot.
    Some of these may be deep in the soil and leaves from deep-rooted trees will bring them up, as will deep-rooted green manure, but better still leaves from rtrees outside your p[lot are better, but not from roadsides where they can be polluted.
    I think that you mention leafmould, but I have never seen anywhere the trace element benefits that can come from leaf mould; especially from outside your own plot.

  97. I know all these products can be used on container gardens i would say mines is about maybe 1 sq foot (15-20 3gallon pots) jus checkin if my beginning math is correct?

    1. You mean 10 square feet?

      1. Thanks Phil. Wow i way off LOL

  98. Bruce Piper says:

    My cousin has inherited an acre of in N.E. Ohio and would like to manage this crop in an organic way. In the past, lab tests from local universities have been followed, although looking at these tests, indicates no major deficiencies. Starting this spring, we would like to stay local with our management as much as possible. Can you help with recommendations for foliar sprays, soil management and cover cropping. Thanks Phil for your time on this. – Bruce

  99. Phil, I am enjoying reading all the info you provide here. I am a beginner and I need to know if the 3 things you listed for beginners to buy, are good for hydrangeas. I am about to plant some new ones and I have 4 others that are about 3 years old that have never grown more than 1-2 feet tall. They are all Endless Summer Hydrangeas and should be several feet taller by now. They do have a few blooms each year.
    Thank you for the time you spend giving us such good information.

    1. Yes, they’re good for hydrangeas. Just don’t spray them directly on the flowers in bloom – it’s not always an issue, but sometimes it’s a little too much for them (this goes for many types of flowers). That said, if the plants are really stunted, using products probably aren’t your first concern. It more likely has something to do with the soil/water/sun, so it’s worth doing some thinking about that.

  100. Pamela Vanderpool says:

    Hi! I recently purchased your seaweed fertilizer and innoculent. I’m delighted I found your site. However, I also just learned that my city treats our water with chloramine. I’m concerned the products will not be effective unless I can remove the chloramine. But how do I do that?? It doesn’t burn off in 24 hours like chlorine.

    1. You’ll be okay. When making compost tea, we do want to get rid of the chloramine, but for my other products, including my inoculants, it’s okay. That said, for anyone who wants to at least reduce chloramine, which certainly doesn’t hurt, there are attachments you can buy to put on your hose.

  101. HI there. I started my seedlings in an organic seedling mix. I used all organic seeds. They all germinated quite wonderfully. They have sort of stopped growing and I’m pretty sure it’s because I need to start fertilizing. The roots on my seedlings (in a 72 cell tray) have started to poke out the bottom. Is it better to leave these seedlings in the tray and use fish fertilizer diluted… or transplant into larger pots with a potting soil? Or transplant to larger pots with seedling mix and then fertilize with the fish fertilizer. Thank you. This is my first year growing from seed. Learning lots and trying not to be a worry wart. I hope to plant my seedlings into the ground in about 3 weeks and the rest I plan to sell at my farmer’s market or give away to friends. (I have like 60 sage seedlings alone… I planted a whole bunch hoping to get something. And also a bunch of other herbs and some veggies.) Thank you very much.

    1. Good question. It’s actually hard to know for sure which option will be best – I would encourage you to try all 3 of your ideas to see which one wins 🙂

  102. Todd Williams says:

    Hi, I have 4 mature Sugar Maple Trees that need some lovin. They are in compact soil next to a large creek that floods around them about 4-5 times a year.
    Is this the correct mycorrhizal fungi to use to help the root system? Thanks, Todd

    1. Yes, this is the one, although I’d expect if they’ve been around for a long time that some mycorrhizal fungi will have found them already.

  103. Tom Basham says:

    Hi Phil… would you recommend mycorrhizal fungi for Paw Paw trees?

    1. Yes, endomycorrhizal fungi.

  104. Hey hello, if if i want to make Mother culture at household level so can you explain me how could i make it. i am not buying the mother culture want to make it at household level.

  105. Richard Hurlburt says:

    Hello Phil. I had my garden soil tested by my local university cooperative extension. They recommended that I add some N & K to the soil. They recommended blood meal for the N and sol-po-mag for the K. I’ve added the sol-po-mag, but I’m wondering if I can treat the soil with liquid fertilizer instead of blood meal for the nitrogen. If so, should I apply it to the soil before planting or at the same time, and at what ratio/s (note I recently purchased a bunch of liquid fertilizers: bio-ag, seaweed, sea minerals, fish & molasses)? I also purchased a compost tea brewer. and wondering if it might make sense to pre-treat the soil with a brew of that as well?

    1. Hi Richard, yes, it’s possible you’ll be fine without a more concentrated form of nitrogen such as blood meal, although you may want to use some compost and other organic matter to gradually increase the organic matter content of your soil so it retains and releases more nitrogen over time. The fish you bought is a good in-the-meantime nitrogen fertilizer. You could also look into alfalfa meal as a dry source of nitrogen (I don’t carry it). And yes, it’s a great idea to apply compost tea and everything else. All of these products can be applied any time, but I like to do them close to planting time, like a few days or a week before. And then I continue them at least monthly throughout the year.

  106. Phil I received the products and applied the inoculant to my bean seed before planting them. I look forward to using ProBio, Neptune’s Harvest and the Molasses soon. North Carolina is currently in a rain phase for a week or more per the forecasters so I am holding of applying anything that can be washed off.

    Thank you for the products, I am excited to see the results!

    ~ Tom B… Rockwell NC

    1. Thanks for sharing, Tom!

  107. Where do you recommend getting soil tests? Thanks

  108. Hi Phil. You mentioned that you only ship in the USA. I stay in South Africa. How can I possibly get some of the fungi. Do you export your products or is there a specific company that I can contact regarding this?

    1. I don’t export. I wonder if there are companies that will do this for you.

  109. Phil, Are your liquid kelp and liquid fish fertilizers complete in themselves, or are they to be used as supplements to a general NPK fertilizer? Thanks

    1. They’re not considered complete, although the idea that NPK fertilizer is “complete” is also outdated. Ideally, we would send a soil sample to a good lab and then supply the specific nutrients in which our soil is deficient. That could be NPK, but probably not. Indeed, we may already have too much of at least 1 of them. And then we may be deficient in other elements, like calcium, sulfur, and so on. Kelp and fish provide tiny amounts of most elements, and that’s a great thing to do, but it won’t correct the big deficiencies. For that, we need to bring in specific minerals, but again, bringing in NPK would be just a guess.

    2. Stephanie Newman says:

      So glad to receive your test!

      Below please resend it in a different format.

  110. Don Dartt says:

    Phil, we grow most of our vegetables from seed, germinating them on seedling mats. Would you recommend using the kelp and fish at regular strength on seedlings, or diluting the solution? Thanks.

    1. Regular strength, which is 1:50, i.e. 1 teaspoon per cup of water.

  111. Mary Carrillo says:

    Hi Phil. Can you send me infromation on EM products and how they work?

  112. I find when I water my lawn and garden beds the water doesnt absorb and the soil/earth an inch or so underneath is bone dry. I have tried using surfactants both liquid and granular but it doesnt do a lot to help. Im guessing i need to add more organic matter into the soil but what is the best way to do this on existing lawns or beds without disrupting the plants?

  113. Hi Phil,
    I am new to your site and I look forward to trying out the products I purchased. I have a question regarding asparagus bed I planted 4 or 5 yrs ago. I planted 25 roots, and I have to say, I am extremely underwhelmed. I thought I would have more than my husband and I could eat, perhaps enough excess to freeze some. I followed the rules on not picking for more than 1 week, the first year, 2 weeks the second, etc. I let the ferns grow throughout the summer, very lush green ferns, and used them for cover over the winter. Instead of increasing the harvest, it is barely a trickle. Last season only produced about 10-15 spears per week.
    Do you think it would help to use the endo inoculant at this point? They are planted very deep, 18 inches I think. And should I wait until frost threat is over before using the other goodies I got from your site. Any advice you might offer is
    greatly appreciated.

    Thank you
    Karen Lewicki

    1. That is very deep. That could be part of the problem. Mycorrhizal inoculant could possibly help. Certainly won’t hurt. It’s okay to apply my products before the last frost but I mostly tend to wait because not much microbial/plant activity is happening before then anyway.

  114. Phil, Got all my products on time and in great shape. I’m looking forward to doing organic gardening this year with your very helpful guidance. All the videos you provide are excellent. Thanks so much

  115. Hello 🙂

    I am from South Africa and I am looking for Endomycorrhizal and Ectomycorrhizal fungi spores in order to grow the Mycelium on Agar. Am i able to isolate the spores from your product or do you offer the spores?


  116. Hi Phil, I have found a supplier of EM in Australia (, however I have a Bokashi bin with a reservoir and a tap, which produces liquid that can be used on the garden (in diluted form) or in drains. Can you please explain the difference between the Bokashi ‘juice’ and the EM? Not sure if I actually need to buy another product when I am producing a liquid that should be full of beneficial microbes and bacteria already.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. That’s a good question, Megan. I’m not entirely sure what the answer is. My guess is that the bokashi juice is not as good as the EM. The EM is produced under very controlled conditions and if the balance of microbes is off, the effectiveness decreases. My guess is that the bokashi juice is a bit like EM, but the balance of microbes is off due to the microbes’ interaction with the food. It may be useful but I’m not sure if it measures up. This is just a guess based on my understanding of how important the microbe proportions are in EM. It would be cool for you to do a controlled experiment to compare these 2 liquids.

  117. Dafne Romero says:

    Hi Phil,

    I am a kelp processing plant owner up north of Haida Gwaii in B.C..

    I would like to make seaweed juice with the stipes I collect every year. I want to make a liquid fertilizer for the local soils as we are having some drought in the past 4 years and its getting worst every year for the farmers. The challenge is I don’t want to use any harsh acids to do so.I would lie to be as eco friendly as possible.

    do you offer any workshops or education around the development of kelp fertilizer?

    1. Alas, that’s beyond my expertise. You could see if kelpman could help, or otherwise ask around in B.C. Good luck!

  118. After a lot of search I found of your website and kept me reading and reading, we started a small organic garden, we are growing vegetables but we noticed insects spring tails do you have any recommendation, product in how to get ride those insects. Thank you so much!

    1. They don’t usually cause much damage. Often they’re there because it’s too wet so if you can do anything about that, that may gradually help. And then improving plant health using products like EM and sea minerals may help too 🙂

  119. Hi Phil,

    What species are present the in EM inoculum, furthermore are there any additional additives such as previously colonised roots/preservatives etc.
    (Hoping to use them for research but need details for reproducibility)

  120. Betsey Morris says:

    Phil, two things I would like to know:

    How do I access the more in depth info about activating the mother culture of effective microbes?

    Do you know how EM would affect a mushroom culture that is companion “planted” in vegetable beds?

    Thank you!

    1. You would have received an email with your login info on May 27. It could be in your junk mail. You can email me if you can’t find that.

      I’ve never seen info on EM and mushrooms. My guess is that it could be helpful but I would start by spraying on just a small part.

  121. Lauren Ayers says:

    What the heck?! I forgot to finish my order of Myc Fungi and found the incomplete order just now, tried 2 credit cards and was told they were rejected. I went online to my bank, no problem there. Is there any other way to order besides your system which has locked me out?

    1. Sorry about that Lauren, not sure what the issue may be, as other orders are coming in fine. Once you’re on the checkout page, you could try clicking the button to order with PayPal (and from there you don’t actually need to have a PayPal account – you can pay through PayPal with your credit card).

  122. Hi Phil, I just planted my Triple Crown thornless blackberries March 1 2019 so they are in their first year. I started using Liquid Seaweed and sea minerals earlier this summer. I had a soil test in July and everything came back as good for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The ext office stated to apply some 10/10/10 this summer. Of course I don’t want synthetics so would the sea minerals and seaweed suffice or what do you recommend?

    Some leaves seem to be fading and yellowing with brownish splotches.

    Thank you for your help.

    1. Sea minerals and seaweed are excellent for all of the trace minerals but aren’t sufficient for the full amount of NPK. Of course, that doesn’t mean you necessarily need synthetics. For nitrogen, there’s mainly compost, or organic alfalfa meal/feather meal/fish meal/etc. For phosphorus, there’s fishbone meal or soft rock phosphate. For potassium, there’s compost, greensand, potassium sulfate, etc. Your first decision is do you want to go full organic or not. From there, it’s just finding the products. Cheers, Phil

  123. Good Day, Sir.

    Two quick questions:

    1. If the ProBio is pre-activated(from the lab) , how long is it good for? I assume(wrongly?) that activating the mother culture, whether ourselves or having the lab do it, is what generates all those extra friendly plant helping organisms. Once they grow and or develop, wouldn’t they die off sitting all alone in the bottle over a year or so until it is used? I am sure I do not fully understand how all that works and tried to read up on it, but I still am not clear on it. I read they recommend to use our Actively Aerated Compost Tea within 24h of completing the brewing process or else the microbes start to die off which is what prompted this question.

    2. Can or should the Garden soil be sprayed on a monthly cycle with the standard ‘Elixir’ in the off season to maintain a high level of fertility and or microbial activity, or is it not as valuable when the beds are over wintering. What about if using cover crops, even though the extreme cold will likely kill them off?

    Thank you in advance for your time.

    1. 1. With compost tea, most of the microbes are aerobic (they need oxygen), so yes, they do need to be used as soon as possible. But the ProBio microbes are fermenting microbes, like those that make wine, and they don’t need air. So they’re fine sitting around for a long time – until their food runs out. The expiry date on ProBio bottles is usually about 2 years.

      2. The microbes are most important during the growing season but there can be some small benefits during winter, especially the warmer parts of winter, so if you have time, go for it. I don’t spray in the dead of winter but I do at the beginning and near the end.

      1. Thank you, Sir!

        One more question if you you can…

        I am in the process of building new Hugelkultur raised beds and I am wondering if there is value in using the above mention elixir(s) as a coating on each layer to jump start the de-comp process for each layer. I use the standard layering of a nitrogen source (usually bone meal) on the bottom, then big logs, another dusting of bone meal, medium logs etc etc all the way up. My beds are 32″ down into the soil and then get a 12.5′ bed frame above the soil. I am using more soil on top than most recommend since I will not be letting the beds sit for 12+ months (4m rest at best) so using 8-12″ of compost\soil etc seems best. So that said, the whole soil network is likely in bad shape from the digging and shuffling etc, aside from the compost as it just hangs around and cooks. I am planning to top the beds with straw and was thinking that along with a couple light coatings of the above mixture mixed through out to help get things cooken, the top layer with the soil and straw might benefit from a heavy dose of the goodies to reintroduce all the microbes now that the bed will no longer be tilled. Does that seem reasonable or will the top layer of compost and stray handle that?

        1. Yes, I think it would be quite worthwhile during the building of the pile, especially to inoculate the internal areas that aren’t close to the compost, as well as the straw on top at the end.

  124. Robert Garten says:

    What about the Bay Area in California that rarely if ever experiences freezing temperatures. Should treatment with microbes continue through the winter months.

  125. Laura Arroyo says:

    Hi there! I ordered from you last year few items, and I had no problems whatsoever with the shipment of them to Puerto Rico, now I am trying to order the compost tea brewer and neem oil and Puerto Rico is not in the state listing. I already try to buy neem oil here in Puerto Rico without success and the quality of the neem oil purchase from you is the best I ever used. Can you help me and provide shipment to my house in Puerto Rico as previously did? Please!!!!

    1. I recently changed shopping cart software and I hadn’t yet set things up for PR. I’ve set it up now with a $35 shipping charge (your order last year cost me $48 in shipping so at least the $35 will cover part of it). So yes, you can order now 🙂

  126. Question haven’t seed addressed but maybe you have & can point me to it. My land grew tobacco in the past (over 6 years ago & probably over 12). I can’t get legumes to even sprout in some places & in others they come up & promptly die. Other than potatoes & tomatoes which did fine everything else was a bust! Agricultural expert recommended fungicide application to seed before planting or treated seed for probable verticillium wilt and the other is fusarium.

    I purchased the SCD Probiotics – ProBio Balance & Bio-Organics – Micronized Endomycorrhizal Fungi. Plus some legume innoculant.

    I’m in area that gets frequent rain (avg 3-4″/mo) except usually a dryer spell in Sept/Oct. So far this year we have had 2-3x normal rain so will be fighting that this season. Damp increases the resident problems. I’ve been told solarization is about the only way to temporarily get rid of the problem but it will come back. The soil has had testing & has been amended properly.

    I don’t like chemicals but also want to grow food. How to I approach trying deal with the verticillium wilt &/or fusarium. Seems the fungicide would kill the items purchased from you. So I am a bit lost as to what to do to get my soil to be productive & not destructive.

    1. Hi Glen, I’m not sure how big your land is. Can you do anything to dry the soil out, such as forming it into raised beds? I don’t mean beds with physical walls, but rather moving the soil so there are low points throughout the area where the water can drain to? But you mentioned tobacco so probably your acreage is too big. Just thought I’d mention it because that’s one of the root causes of the problem.

      Verticillium and fusarium are big topics. I haven’t written about them on this site and can’t get into full detail here, but I’ll mention a couple of things:
      1. I don’t like pesticides either but if the choice is between a little fungicide and no crops, I would go with the fungicide and then I would continue with the steps below.
      2. Yes, the fungicides may harm the mycorrhizal fungi so the fungi should be applied later, how much later depending on the particular fungicide.
      3. The fungicides may harm SCD Probiotics a little bit but not much. And those products are best applied regularly anyway, at least monthly if possible, so they will still have a big beneficial impact over time. They will also help break down the fungicides.
      4. Whether or not you use a fungicide, these products can help soil and plants deal with verticillium and fusarium. Obviously, the products aren’t pesticides and I can’t market them that way, but they are living microorganisms and they will compete with the disease microorganisms, so they’re definitely a great addition to your plan this year.

  127. Kelly McMillan says:

    Hi Phil!
    I hope I’m putting this in the correct place. I ordered the Pro Bio from you last summer (2019). I noticed a comment on your site where someone asked if the EM could be kept for up to two weeks once it was prepared. You said no, it needs to be used within a day of being mixed with water. I may be confused on what is what. So, I am understanding that can take 2 plus weeks for the activated Pro Bio to even be ready to use and it is mixed with water. Was the comment that the product needs to be used within a day of being prepared meant for Bio-Ag? How long can the Pro Bio be kept once it is activated?

    1. Hi Kelly, yes, it can be confusing. You’re right, the ProBio is often “activated” with water and molasses for 2+ weeks and that can stay good for a few months, even a couple of years if it’s a really good activation.

      It’s once you mix the product with even more water for spraying (e.g. a 1:250 ratio of EM to water or whatever you’re using for spraying) that it should be used within 1-2 days. It could be the activated EM you’re mixing with water, or the Bio Ag, or even the ProBio. Hope that makes sense!

      Side note: If you’re just putting it in a hose-end sprayer, it could probably sit there for a few days or a week because it hasn’t been “mixed with water” yet, but it has been exposed to the air so it won’t stay good for as long at that point.

  128. Kelly McMillan says:

    Thank you.
    So, I activated some of the ProBio and making about a 1/2 gallon that I have it in a glass jug. I intend to use this once a week. You mentioned if it is exposed to air it won’t stay good for long. Should I not expect this ProBio that I have activated to be good for a couple months?

    1. Great question. The ProBio mother culture itself is quite stable with respect to air because it was brewed with such care under lab conditions. Our activated brew does stray from those perfect conditions so it doesn’t tend to have as long of a shelf life but it should certainly be good for a couple of months.

  129. Kelly McMillan says:

    First let me say that I really appreciate all you do. I know it takes a tremendous amount of time to pull all your knowledge together and put it out here for all of us to benefit from. It is much appreciated. You have to have a lot of care and concern for others to do such as this. Thank you.
    Also, the orders come in a very timely manner. I did have an item missing in my last order but you kindly sent it without hesitation as soon as I let you know. Thank you.
    I have ordered a couple times from you. I just found your site last summer and have started using your products this year. My father was also interested in your products as he has had some ups and down with his garden as well. In reading more on your site I found these products to be good for all plants and trees and such. Although we did not purchase your products with the intent of using on fruit trees, my father has several that have wearied him because the trees, even though they are full of fruit in early spring, never make it to harvest. They always end up getting diseased and falling off. I am trying to get some information from your site to see what he might need to apply to his fruit trees that might help them. They are loaded with peaches and apples now, so I am not sure if it is too late. If you have any information on what would be the best route to go it would be much appreciated.
    My husband and I have been gardening for years, but withing the past few years are trying to be more conscientious about the way we garden. Especially with the use of chemicals, such as artificial fertilizers. We were quite naive about the damage that these chemicals cause not only to our bodies, but the environment. I used to get horse manure and put on the garden. One season I used manure that had a semi new herbicide in it. I didn’t realize it at the time. It not only devastated the garden plants, but killed well established bushes in my yard that the manure was near. The horses ate the hay with the herbicide and it went right through them and stayed in the manure. I guess that is when we really started to watch what we put on the garden. We are putting the products to use this season. We’ll see how it goes.

    1. Hi Kelly, it’s a big question. My short answer is that my products may be very helpful and then if you ever get a chance to pick up some neem oil from me, it may help with the disease. But all of the products you bought from me could help prevent and manage the disease too, just by virtue of making the tree healthier, so definitely spray them weekly.

      Other than that, you may eventually want to get into soil testing and then fertilizing specifically to correct soil imbalances, as well as composting to improve soil biology.

  130. Andy Schmitz says:

    For anyone trying to decide on whether all these products have a benefit, I assure you they deliver more than you can believe. I’m from the Beaverton, Oregon area with a traditional collection of Northwest plants. Hemlocks, firs, vine maple, blueberries, huckleberries and rhododendrons would make up the backbone of my garden. Each shrub gets an annual dose of rock dust or Azomite and a monthly spray of a mixture of sea minerals, seaweed, BioAg and molasses. I’m not sure if I’m doing things correctly but don’t tell my plants. They look spectacular! The hardest part of going organic and following Phil’s approach is getting started. Once you do you won’t go back.

    1. Thanks very much for the nice note, Andy!

  131. Robert Garten says:

    I recently made worm tea from wet worm castings I removed from my worm bin. I added about 1/4 cup of BioAG, 1/4 cup of fish emulsion, 1/4 cup of seaweed extract and 1/4 cup of molasses then brewed for about 36 hrs in a five gallon bucket with a vigorous bubbler. I got a big foamy head on top which usually means the brew went well. I diluted the tea 1:1 and put it on my roses, vegetables, tomatoes and other plants. The next day I noticed that my tomatoes had drooped and had brown spots. My string beans, rose pedals and several greens like Chinese cabbage and bok choy also showed damage where the tea deposited. What happened? Worm tea is usually harmless to plant leaves and actually supposed to be good for them. This is the second time I have had this problem. Something must be wrong with my brewing or ingredients. Help please.. Thanks.

    1. Hi Robert, this is a big topic but here are my first ideas. I’m not sure how much compost you’re using but I use only 2 cups in a 5-gallon brewer. Moist is good but hopefully it’s not too wet and it shouldn’t smell bad.

      Then for your other ingredients, you may be using a little too much and it may be causing the brew to go anaerobic. I’d cut all 4 of them in half.

      You could apply 1 brew made with just compost and another brew with just the ingredients to see if you can isolate whether the problem is with the compost or the ingredients. Of course, there are other factors, like the pump needs to really push a lot of air to keep the water aerobic, but those are my thoughts. Good luck!

  132. Keith Skinner says:

    I was really impressed with the level and depth of information on your site. I’ve been equally impressed by the entire retail end of your operation. I just received my shipment of EM and mycorrhizal inoculant and am looking forward to putting some of your expansive research to good use. I really appreciate your attention to detail, all the info you provided about using the products, and your overall friendly manner. Thanks for all your hard work.

    1. Thanks for taking the time, Keith 🙂

  133. Timothy Weed says:

    You mention somewhere that you start applying the seaweed, backstrap, and probiotic 1 week before planting. Do you just spray in on the soil at that point? Also, is there any advantage or disadvantage to spraying in the rain?

    1. Yes, I spray the soil to get it ready for planting, to get some readily-available nutrition and beneficial biology in there. For soil applications, it’s fine to spray in the rain. For foliar applications, it’s not ideal because the rain may wash the product off of the leaf surface.

  134. Timothy Weed says:

    Great, thanks. Meanwhile I’ve been using the mycorhyzae powder on lots of trees and starts I’m putting in the ground. Not sure how to tell whether it’s working, but it sure feels good to imagine those fungi down there doing their good work! Will get going on the spray.

  135. I’ve had your book for years and recommend it to everyone, even the sustainable Agcenter people who should know about you but don’t. I am into permaculture, hukulkultur, native plants, pollinators, and easy vegetables. And orchards, which anyone with a quarter acre of land should have. Since most people are into lawns and exotic ornamentals now, it is difficult to impossible to find disease-resistant apple and other fruit trees . Universities are failing their mission, in my opinion, when they could be encouraging landowners to grow edibles.
    In my case, your ideas about domomitic vs calcitic calcium will possibly solve my problem– when I plant native trees which should be able to thrive on my badly eroded land, which was cotton fields for generations. An Agcenter employee did suggest that the arsenic levels may be lethal to soil microbes that some sensitive species need. I can grow Southern magnolias but not the Cowcumber/Bigleaf types. So I am having a good old time finding calcitic lime locally. And online stores hide the ingredients on the back of the bag.
    I first found you on that “don’t lime” garden rant you write years ago. So glad I did. I was not aware of your Smiling Gardener page until now. This can be a dreary topic, but your writing style makes it interesting and coherent. And user-friendly.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Betty.

  136. I was delighted to have found Phil’s website. To be honest, I had been scouting the web for a GENUINE site like his – for guidance on growing my home garden. His website is a gift in ALL ways. Right off the bat, I realized that Phil truly loves what he is doing, and sharing it with the world too. His detailed and well researched information has been immensely beneficial for me. It nourished my quest to find a go-to person like him on the subject of gardening in all aspects, and I am sure I will have a nourished garden as well.
    I bought quite a few of his recommended products, and this process was just as good. I received timely communication all through the process and the products arrived as expected. I am very much looking forward to using these products as per his recommendations (calculator for application) and watch my garden grow and thrive.
    I am grateful for my garden (a tiny speck of Mother Earth) for all the offerings and blessings – and you too Phil.
    Thank you very much for ALL the good work you do.

  137. Wilma Wilfong says:

    I bought a few of your products, and I am absolutely blown away with how healthy my plants are. I am doing the once-a-week spray you recommended. The squash leaves are each big enough to make a bonnet out of and beautiful gark green.
    And I am soooo thankful that I can actually ask you questions! Thank you for all your help!

  138. Hi! I ordered some EM1 and molasses from you late april. I cracked it open asap to get the mother culture divided and multiplied. I went back to the bottle today (changing my organization system) and there’s these white bits at the top in the bottle? Do you have any idea what it is or whether it’ll be harmful to the microorganisms? Oh and I’ve read many different time frames for growing more culture from a mother culture but I’d like your opinion as to how long to let the mixes sit. Thank you!

    1. Hi Rowan, that’s just the yeast on top – it’s part of the EM, so no worries at all. You can start using it after 1 week but I like to wait 2-4 weeks to give it a little more time. If you brew multiple bottles, you could start using the first after 1 week and leave the rest a little longer.

  139. Amy Fletcher says:

    Hello! I was so pleased to find my BioAg, Seaweed, and Fish Fertilizer had arrived just 2 days after ordering! Thank you for that. I am having a hard time with the application calculator, because of the size of my raised garden bed where Ill be applying mostly for vegetable production, along with about 5-8 randomly sized pots for bigger, prettier, happier flowers. My raised vegetable bed is 4 ft x 10 ft. How much BioAg, Seaweed and Fish Fertilizer should I apply to this bed, how often?

    1. Hi Amy, I’d apply just 3/4 tsp of each once a week, sprayed onto the foliage and/or watered onto the soil. It doesn’t seem like much, but if you do it weekly for the whole growing season, it adds up. If you prefer to do monthly, you can do 1 tablespoon each month.

  140. Pat Turner says:

    Which fertilizer would you recommend for flowers and herbs?

    1. Seaweed and/or sea minerals would be great for both.

  141. Ronald Mischnick says:

    Sprayed our garden with Bio-Ag, molasses and liquid seaweed a little over a week ago and the second time 2 days ago. It is fascinating to watch the change in the plants. Tomatoes and peppers had tremendous improvements. All the plants and flowers showed benefits from the feeding. Used the mycorrhizal fungi when planting. Will be very interested to follow the plants this season.

    Really appreciate your site the info and products for purchasing.

    Thank you
    Ron mischnick

    1. That’s great news! Thanks for taking the time to share, Ron.

  142. Phil,

    I just placed another order (I had overlooked Humate on the product list)

    I just want to thank you again for all you do. I have learned so much from you. The improvement in my garden is tremendous.

    I also wanted to say that I watched the video after I placed my order and those are the cutest babies I have ever seen.

    Thanks again.
    Blessings to you and your beautiful family

    1. Thanks so much, Anna 🙂

  143. Hi Phil!

    Thanks so much for your products! Can’t wait to give them a try! I was wondering how long to water each plant when using the hose end sprayer and also when is the best time of day to fertilize? I’m not sure how long I should spend with the sprayer on my two 250sqft beds. I water the garden in the evenings. Should I fertilize after I water? Or is it better to do in the morning?

    1. Evening is a fine time to foliar feed. It’s hard to say how long to spend with the sprayer because it depends on the water pressure and on the products you’re using, but I can say from experience that, for most applications, with my hose-end sprayer, it goes quite quickly. I would do 500 square feet in 2-4 minutes.

  144. Hi, Phil

    I ordered some nutrients from you and I’ve applied them once. I need to do it again. This week, I had my soil tested and all the nutrients look good but the PH is 7.5. I have tomatoes and I really want them to do well. What would you recommend to bring the PH down a bit, naturally? Since my plants are in the ground already, it might require a certain approach. It would be something I would want to work, at least little by little, right away, but I don’t want to hurt the plants.

    Thank you!

    1. You don’t necessarily have to bring down the pH to have good tomatoes, but yes, it could be helpful. As for how to do it, pH is just the result of the levels of nutrients you have in your soil, so if you balance those nutrient levels, the pH will follow. Alas, my apologies, the process is more than I can get into here. I do help Academy members with this but I need to spend some time looking at the soil test to figure it out (and sometimes, I need to ask you to get a better soil test, as many soil tests don’t really give enough information to be useful – it depends).

  145. Hi Phil! Just received my Bio Ag and Seaweed Fertilizer. Just want to make sure they are ok to apply both on our Nellie Stevens Hollies and on the soil. Also, can I apply the Neem oil at the same time?

    1. Yes, you can apply both on the hollies and soil. But I would apply the neem oil separately from the Bio Ag because it will smother some of the microbes in the Bio Ag. I’d apply them at least a couple of days apart, for example, neem oil on day 1 and then Bio Ag and seaweed on day 4 (or vice versa).

  146. Sylvia hendrix says:

    hi Phil,
    I recently purchased neem oil,and sea crop. have several citrus trees, lemon, lime , quamaquote, and orange. how do I use these products on trees that have fruit on them. what is best time of year to use them. wil these product hurt the fruit or make it unsafe. One of my lemon trees has gold rot.

    Sylvia Hendrix

    1. I spray the Sea Crop and Bio Ag every week or every month for the whole growing season. The only time I’m careful is when the trees are flowering in the spring, just because flowers are so delicate. I still spray then but I focus more on the trunk and soil and I don’t hit the flowers too hard – perhaps just a quick spray. I’m happy to spray the fruit directly with both of them. It’s good for the fruit and there are not taste issues.

      As for the neem oil, I spray it a little more sparingly, but still every couple of weeks on trees that need it. I don’t spray it directly on edibles within a couple of weeks of harvest, but with citrus, which you’re peeling, it should be fine to spray up until harvest. More info on neem application here:

  147. Ron Mischnick says:

    After using Mycorrhizal Fungi, SCD Probiotics, liquid seaweed, and blackstrap molasses this year I am convinced I need to move to the next level of gardening. I know virtually nothing about the methodology of no-till gardening. Where and how do I learn about this over the winter so I can begin no-till. I am assuming the start up and continuing process will take some patience and time. Would appreciate anything you are willing to share or point me to. We live in Western Nebraska elevation is 4000 ft. (altimeter at airport 3998)
    Using your products we had the earliest tomatoes and a very abundant crop. Best tomato crop in many years. The pickling cucumbers produced exceedingly well but the thing that impressed us the most was the condition of the vines. Usually after a few weeks the vines get beat up from picking and become brittle. I fertilized once a week and they were still going strong when I pulled most of them the first of Sept.
    (I passed your web site to our many friends that we gave cucumbers to that asked what did we do to grow such good cucumbers)
    I really appreciate your site and products

    1. Nice to hear from you, Ron. No-till isn’t the only way to go but it’s certainly worthwhile to learn about it and see how it compares to other, more intensive methods. As for where and how to learn more about it, I don’t have a list of resources at hand, but I’m sure a Google search will give you many days of good reading, and there are many books on the topic. If I ever dive more deeply into it here, I’ll let you know 🙂

  148. Thank you, Phil, for ALL this amazing information! I am digesting it all and seeing how I have made many mistakes in my gardening. I’m ready to make some changes and I love the science instruction you provide- it really helps me make sense of it (since I am not a natural green thumb, nor did I grow up learning from others)

    I live in Northern California and we will have a few more weeks of frost, but I am going to start spraying my concoction of stuff I got from you this weekend in preparation of planting new things in another month or so. Is that right?

    Does the molasses attract ants?

    My compost bin (new for me this year) is not hot at all- I believe I have added too much carbon and so have just been working in kitchen scraps for weeks but it hasn’t improved. I will get dirt, but not SOIL, I guess. I am going to spray the concoction on that too- good idea?

    1. You can do a spray this weekend and it will be somewhat useful. The most important time is once the weather warms more, but it doesn’t hurt to get out there and get a little spraying practice while the garden is calm 🙂

      The molasses doesn’t attract ants – we’re using such a tiny amount.

      Yes, spray into the compost bin, too. It won’t be hot at this time of year, but as long as it’s big enough, moist enough, and has a reasonable mix of materials, it should heat up in the spring.

      1. Kathy Hirsekorn says:

        Hi Phil, I have been spraying every other week – sea minerals, EM, molasses, etc. I have the MaxSea fertilizer that I have always used. It’s based on seaweed. I would normally be using that starting now as I am able to start planting veggies (I’m in northern California). Is it too much fertilizer to use the MaxSea in addition to the spraying? Or any other fertilizer?
        thank you

  149. Hi Phil, new to your site. Recently bought your beginner products and hose/sprayer applicator. Haven’t used them yet since it’s still winter in my part of Texas. I typically wait to start “waking up” my garden areas until about the third week in Feb. Two questions for today. I have seven blueberry bushes, different varieties, and have been reading about how to fertilize them come spring. They don’t need much fertilizer, but do benefit from a good leaf mulch throughout winter, which I provided. I noticed you said in an above post that blueberries benefit from light applications of nitrogen and sulpher. I’ve read (in Ag sites in Texas) what is needed is aluminum sulphate. What’s the difference between this and sulpher? Also how much nitrogen and in what form?

    1. The aluminum sulfate (also spelled “sulphate”) recommendation is out-of-date now that we know how toxic aluminum is. A better choice is ammonium sulfate, which you can find online. It provides the correct form of nitrogen (ammonium) as well as your sulfur. The application rate is only 2-4 pounds per 1000 square feet – you don’t want to overdo it. In most cases, ammonium sulfate can’t be used on certified organic crops, but for non-certified organic growers who want to grow nutrient-dense food, it is often recommended by organically-minded soil labs because it’s such a good quality material that doesn’t cause the problems the more common synthetics cause.

  150. Johanna Marie Lane says:

    I’m excited to get started with the BioAg I just received in the mail. Thank you!
    I’ve followed the ratio recommendation for my existing trees and beds. I may have missed instructions for compost bins. What is the recommendation for using BioAg in my compost bin?

    1. I spray my compost pile every time I’m spraying the garden, using the same application rate. But when building a new compost pile, I have seen recommendations that work out to about 2-3 liters of EM or Bio Ag per cubic yard of organic materials. That can be applied diluted with water or undiluted. And yes, it’s a lot! It makes more economical sense when you buy the ProBio Balance product, which can be expanded from 1 quart to 20 quarts. But even if you just apply 1 cup of Bio Ag into a cubic yard of compost, that will be a nice help.

  151. Peggy Austin-Malone says:

    Hi there! I wonder if it is okay for the microorganisms to be applied to the soil a couple days before a freeze? We’re planting in a hoop house, and it is unlikely it will fully freeze in there, but there’s no telling how cold it might get. We already have some plants established and they’ve been probably craving EM since it’s been nearly a year since we applied any, that’s why we did it… but I got to thinking that there’s probably a temperature boundary and consideration.
    Thank you!

    1. If I had a limited amount of EM, I might wait until after the freeze, but EM is quite inexpensive and you don’t need to use much, so yes, I have no issue applying it before a freeze – some of the microbes may go dormant, but some of those will come back when the weather warms, and others may be okay even during the freeze.

  152. Julianna M. says:

    Hi Phil-
    I have a question about cultivating. . Do I need to do it?
    I only ask because I noticed your garden beds are covered in mulch. I’ve been told we should cultivate our beds every two weeks. If your garden is thriving and the soil never needs to be cultivated after the garden is established I would love to go that route. Thanks

    1. Cultivation may be done to kill weeds, incorporate organic matter, prepare a good seedbed, and for several other reasons. But there are downsides that can come along with cultivating, like harming soil biology, bringing up old weed seeds, and others. So in the end, the decision to cultivate comes down to weighing the pros and the cons. My goal in any garden is to decrease the need for cultivation in order to get rid of the cons, but that means I need to find other ways to accomplish the pros. Some approaches use some form of cultivation every year, like biointensive gardening, whereas others may never use it, like lasagna gardening. And there are options between those extremes. Long story short, each of us needs to figure out whether it’s right for us.

  153. Hi Phil, I was reading about the cover crops and have a question regarding the cereal rye. You stated it should be mowed before it seeds. Ours has headed out and I am wondering what kind of problem that might cause. We also have red clover, vetch, and turnips included in the cover crop. Is this a good mix? Thank you so, so much for the great information you provide. I did not know we needed to wait 2-3 weeks after turning the cover crop under to plant seeds – perhaps that is the reason the beets are so slow!

    1. That’s a good mix. The problem with cover crops going to seed is that you’ll now have seeds that may germinate when you don’t want them. Not necessarily the end of the world, but that’s why most people knock down their crops before they go to seed.

  154. Hello Phil, very much appreciate your wisdom on gardening and the different types of fertilizers to use, especially how to use and how much. I have an issue with red ants in my gardens. Ants in my strawberry garden and blackberry garden. I read where if you make a mixture of Unsulphured Black Molasses and Orange Oil this will put an end to the Ants. Would it be safe to use in the strawberry and blackberry gardens without damaging or killing my plants.

    1. It’s definitely worth a try, Terry. It’s always a good idea to spray a small area first and then wait a few days to see if there are any negative effects, but I expect you’ll be fine.

  155. Phil, I found it helpful knowing what minerals and fertilizer to add to my soil … very helpful for me. Midwest Labs has a garden test for $15 (last time I used them) and they give an extensive list and recommendations of what and how much to add. Of course that doesn’t include the living organisms or Inoculants. I don’t work for them or get anything mentioning them. has all the information you need to send soil samples and get results.

  156. Hi Phil, I’m concerned about the chlorine and chloramine in our water. I’m using a hose-end sprayer and applying BioAg and your other products. I’ve heard that humic acid clogs a sprayer. Also my garden is irrigated on drip with water that contains chlorine and chloramine. Will this defeat the purpose of using BioAg? I’m interested in short-term and long-term solutions.

    1. Hi Kim, although chlorine and chloramine can cause problems when brewing compost tea, the Bio Ag microbes can handle it and research shows that plants and soils can handle it, too. That said, if you were able to remove them, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that. There are filters you can attach to a hose and I’ve been meaning to experiment with them for years, but I haven’t gotten around to it (I’m on a well, so don’t have chlorine/chloramine issues). Perhaps you’ll beat me to it 🙂

  157. Nathan Oliver says:

    So I bought several products from you….. can you mix products together like neem, sea minerals, effective micro organisms, and fertilizer?

    1. Yes, you can mix some things together. I tend to apply neem and EM separately in case the microbes in the EM don’t like the neem, even if just a couple of days apart. But I do regularly apply EM, sea minerals, molasses, and seaweed together, or in your case, you could leave the seaweed out to instead combine it with the neem. That’s what I would do.

  158. Nancy Crooks says:

    I’ve heard you say that soil conditions influence the kind of weeds we get. I have mostly fake ‘wild strawberries’ and oxalis. Can you tell me what this might indicate?

    Thanks for your generosity with information. I’ve sprayed my garden once so far, and will do it again next week.

    1. Sorry, Nancy, I have no info on those 2 plants with respect to soil conditions.

  159. How do I order the $29 two gallon hose end sprayer?

  160. Phil,

    Just received the first part of my order. Looking forward to giving it a try. I have had trouble with tomato fruitworms this year, then wilt did them in for good. Thinking about either grafting or just go with resistant varieties for the wilt. Any thoughts on dealing with fruitworms beyond removal?

    1. The main thing (for fruitworms and wilt) is prevention by improving soil chemistry and biology with fertilizers and microbial inoculants and good compost. On top of that, for the fruitworms, you can alternate between gentle applications of neem oil, Spinosad, and Btk. But as you improve the soil, the issues should decrease.

  161. Just found your website. Definitely looking to learn more from you and make some purchases. Could you tell me what you recommend for my indoor soil salad sprout gardening?

  162. Phil,
    As we head into winter here in NH, how late into the fall season can I apply foliar fertilization? Should I leave out the EM with the cooler Soil Temp?
    Turf and ornamentals are my main “crops”
    Thanks for all the good info and great products..

    1. Personally, I keep doing foliars – especially EM – this time of year. If I were only going to do a few sprays a year, I’d stick to spring and summer, but if it’s easy enough for you to do, it’s still very worthwhile. I generally do my last one after I’ve mulched my garden in the fall, spraying the leaf mulch and the bare branches of my plants. If I had a big lawn, I may not bother, but if I had just a small lawn that I really like to keep looking great, I’d hit it, too.

  163. Hi, I tested my soil and it has too much calcium and magnesium, how I can fix this?

    1. With respect to ratios, an excess of something means a deficiency of another. If you have an excess of Ca and Mg, you may have a deficiency of K and S, for example. A good soil test will show you that, or you can talk to the lab. Good luck!

  164. Hello, this spring we purchased Seaweed Fertilizer, Liquid Fish Fertilizer, Sea Minerals Fertilizer and SCD Probiotics – Bio Ag. Trying to step up are gardening game. With your advise and these products it worked! We still have about a half a bottle of each left. It has been kept in a dark cabinet in the house. My question is will it be fine for next year? Thanks, Jay.

    1. Yes, they should all still be great for this year. I generally try to use them in 2 years, although if I have some left over in years 3 and 4, there’s usually still some benefit even then.

  165. I love your products and all the videos! I can’t wait to see the improvement in my produce. Thank you so much for all the information. I even told my new organic compost provider about your website, and she’s thrilled!

  166. Hello,

    I have an apartment vegetable garden. It’s about 22 sq ft, and then a couple containers. I saw the calculations for the fertilizers. HOw about for the calcium carbonate and basalt?

    1. Calcium carbonate is usually applied when a soil test tells you you need it (and how much to apply). It can be applied, though, at 5 pounds per 1000 square feet, which is about 50 grams for your garden.

      For the basalt, I’ve seen a wide range of application rates suggested, but 50 pounds per 1000 square feet is common, so about 1 pound for your garden. I’ve seen up to 500 pounds per 1000, though, so 11 pounds for your garden.

  167. Phil I have your liquid seaweed can I just mix with water and put in the soil

    1. Yes, you can follow the instructions on the label and spray your soil and plants directly.

  168. Brian Newman says:

    Hi Phil!

    Thank you for your super fast shipping and high quality products! Also, I appreciate your very comprehensive instructions on how to replicate the Mother EM bottle. I’m on my 3rd gallon of production. I’ll let you know later on how they affect my garden and lawn:)

    1. Nice! I’m nearly due for a new activation for myself 🙂

  169. I live in Northeastern California zone 7a where we received a lot of snow this year. My garden is a 1/2 acre and about 1/2 of it is bare ground now, while the other half still has about a foot of snow, but melting each day. Nothing has leafed out yet, though buds are swelling. My question is, do I need to wait before I start spraying with my EM’s, Molasses, Liquid Kelp mix? Does the ground need to be a certain temp? Do leaves have to be out? I also have some rock dust and am thinking I should wait for that until my soil test comes back? Please advise.

    1. Hi Emily, although spring and summer is the most important application time, I love to get out early for an application when I have unblocked access to branches and trunks. The caveat is when buds are bursting, some of them can be sensitive, so I don’t want to hit them with too much of anything, but before burst is a great time to do a first application.

      Most rock dust is very much broad spectrum, supplying a little of anything, so it can be applied any time, regardless of soil test results.

  170. Phil,
    Is it advisable to use composted coffee grounds in your garden?
    There are a number of mixed reviews online.
    Thank You

    1. I do it, but yes, as you say, I put them in my compost first rather than putting spent coffee grounds directly in the garden, which can be detrimental to some plants.

  171. First let me say that your information is a lifesaver and communicated so well. I can’t wait to submit my order!

    Do you have any special recommendations for very alkaline soil? (There are many fields covered with white alkali. Soil is rocky, dry, sandy, and extremely alkaline; zone 5, daily winds between 20-85mph and only 6-10 inches of annual rain.) What would work best to bring the PH down and hold more water?

    1. Did you do a soil test to figure out exactly why the pH is so high?

        1. Can you do a soil test before buying the land? It’s worth it. Regardless, that’s an interesting link, thanks, but it’s hard to know based on that. It says, “Parent material is alluvium derived from calcareous sandstone; granite, gneiss, and mica schist; or basalt,” which could yield quite different soil mineral balances.

          1. Thank you for all the information and valuable amendments. Once I am able to get a soil test, I’ll check in and see if you have other insight.

            Do you have a way for people to donate to your business? You have provided so much, and I appreciate you & your wonderful products very much and would love to contribute towards your work.

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