How to Make Complete Organic Fertilizer

A complete organic fertilizer recipe gives your garden the balanced nutrients it needs.

  • "The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient Dense Food" by Steve Solomon is a practical, step-by-step guide to growing produce of the highest nutritional quality.
    Cover Courtesy New Society Publishers
  • Using a complete organic fertilizer is the key to a beautiful garden.
    Photo Courtesy New Society Publishers

Centuries of agriculture have depleted our soils causing the nutrient-density of fruits, grains and vegetables to decline dramatically, but the process of returning soil to true fertility is widely misunderstood. In this excerpt from The Intelligent Gardener (New Society Publishers, 2012), Steve Solomon gives us his all-purpose complete organic fertilizer recipe for re-mineralizing your garden soil.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient Dense Food.

Using Complete Organic Fertilizer Now

If your intention is to produce nutrient-dense food on a scale that means a great deal to the family economy, do a soil test, and amend the soil in the direction that maximizes nutritional outcomes. That’s the best way. Thinking just in terms of money, if you’re growing a large enough garden that its output makes a financial difference, and if its fertilization requires the purchase of anything at all, why not add another $20 to your annual cost and do a soil test first? Then you can buy only what the garden really needs. The test could save you more than its cost. And if you think of it in terms of your family’s health, there is no choice at all.

But if yours is a small garden that doesn’t seem to justify the cost or effort, if your food garden is not a discrete area but just a few vegetables interplanted amongst flowers and other ornamentals, or if it is in small, irregularly sized beds, each with highly different natures, soils, histories of being amended, and so forth, or for whatever reason being guided by a soil test seems undoable, then your problem can be solved by fertilizing with a fairly complete and balanced organic fertilizer recipe.

The major concern when designing a complete organic fertilizer is achieving as much balance as possible without creating excesses. Deficiencies are easy to remedy; excesses…well, as Hugh Lovel once joked, “it’s easy enough to resolve soil nutrient excesses, no more difficult than getting too much salt out of the soup.” My complete organic fertilizer recipe is designed to, above all, avoid creating excess; therefore, it cannot completely ensure there are no minor nutrient or trace element deficiencies. There is no way out of this problem except to custom-design a new complete organic fertilizer every year or two from soil test results.

Making complete organic fertilizer yourself requires that you first obtain up to ten ingredients. (To source them all might take a bit of clever shopping because garden center merchants as yet don’t expect home gardeners to request some of these substances. I hope that will change.) Making complete organic fertilizer will involve nearly the same effort and expense as would biting the bullet, getting a soil test, and formulating something perfectly suited to your land. And no complete organic fertilizer can possibly grow food to the degree of nutrient- density that can be achieved from re-mineralization according to a soil test result.

3/21/2014 6:15:05 AM

It has no doubt that organic fertilizers are now more acceptable than other as organic fertilizers are more effective for cultivation. It increases the productivity and fertility of soil. With this it avoid to adding any toxic substance to soil. Beside this it maintain the quality of food, size and looks of flower and food etc. If we analysis on organic fertilizer we also like it comparison to other. Overall it fulfills all the need of fertilizer. Basically are more acceptable as well as appreciable than other as these are very effective.

11/29/2013 10:02:07 PM

While the recipe looks good, finding which nutrient(s) and inadequate is very difficult. The majority of soil test labs that I've checked out only do a rudimentary P and K test. The nitrogen test is a best guess from a table based on what you submit as garden or crop history. To get a more adequate or comprehensive view of your garden soil, tissue samples submitted to a lab that can adequately process the tissue or leaf samples are few and far between. Also, the tissue must arrive in a very timely basis, not be delayed in transit or being analyzed. The cost is usually per nutrient being tested and can be prohibitively expensive if you want a complete soil test panel. Then the results are only as accurate as the sample from that specific area. I've found some cheaper and more dependable methods -- yield, careful observation of moisture and sunlight, weeds and their health as well as checking some of the plant nutrient photos available with some internet searching. These 'marker' plants along with symptoms of current crop plants or deformed plants will give you some on-going symptoms that should be recorded.

9/23/2013 3:33:08 PM

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