Ingredient charts, materials lists and shopping for fertilizer materials and not get frustrated, including biological ingredients, weighing and mixing, adaptation for strict organic growers.

| May/June 1982

Lee Fryer began fighting our overdependence on chemical, fossil-fuel-based fertilizers in the days before many of us had even heard of "organic" farming. And we're pleased to have this expert (a man who's had decades of experience working with benign soil aids) explain how to . . .

An agricultural consultant and president of Earth Foods Associates, Mr. Fryer is the coauthor of a number of books and—for several years—ran a large fertilizer business that was based on converting seaweed, fish by-products, chicken feathers, and other nutrient-laden "waste" into farm- and garden-boosting products. We think you'll enjoy the following excerpts from his forthcoming book. The Bio-Gardener's Bible (scheduled for publication by Chilton this fall).

First, we should decide what grade, or analysis, we need in the mixed fertilizer. For example, in the case of a fertile, well-manured garden, only moderate nitrogen should be included. Phosphate should be at least double the nitrogen content, and potash should be about the same as the phosphate. Such a 1-2-2 ratio is about right for a general-purpose organic-based garden fertilizer.

In order to leave "room" for plenty of bulk organic ingredients, we will deliberately make this a medium-low-analysis product. So, we'll settle on a 3-6-6 grade. This means the finished product will contain a guaranteed analysis of 3% nitrogen (N), 6% phosphate (P2O5), and 6% potash (K2O). Thus, as noted above, the major plantfoods are provided in a 1-2-2 ratio.

To comply with these specifications, each 1,000 pounds, 100 pounds, and 10 pounds of this "model" fertilizer will contain the following amounts of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash.

After looking over the available fertilizer materials in our neighborhood, let us assume that the following ingredients are selected for this "model" general-purpose garden fertilizer.

2/6/2012 12:34:48 PM

Aged horse manure is an excellent, complete source of N-P-K (~2-1-2 ratio) and fibrous organic matter, not to mention all the trace minerals to build your garden soil. If you're not fortunate enough to have your own horses, stables usually give it away free- just shovel it into buckets or a garbage can and carry it away....Soil test kits are pretty cheap, available at most garden supply stores and easy to do (just like testing your pool water for pH etc) Check your soil for pH, N, P & K and then add necessary supplements to the garden as indicated....The article is a little confusing. Remember that a ratio stays the same whether you take a tsp or a barrel full- it's the total weight of each nutrient you apply to a given plot that counts. Eg- 1 lb of 10% is the same as 2 lb of 5% nutrient.

John Stover
2/5/2012 8:20:21 PM

Since my local garden supply stores don't carry 5-10-10 fertilizer, I've been looking into the idea of making my own blend. However, I'm a little confused by formulas such as the one in this article, because from a mathematical standpoint, it doesn't make sense. If a mixure is 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphate and 10% potash, that only adds up to 25%. What is the balance of the mixture (the other 75%)? For example, the 10 lb formula in this article calls for 0.3 lbs nitrogen, 0.6 lbs phosphate and 0.6 lbs potash. That only adds up to 1.5 lbs, not 10. Please explain.

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