Feed the soil, and the soil will feed your plants. That's one of the basic tenets of organic gardening. In most cases, an annual application of rich compost or weli-aged manure will provide enough nutrients and organic matter to sustain your plants all through the growing season. Even so, your garden will probably need a quick pick-me-up from time to time. That doesn't mean Lhat you have to run out to the garden center and drop some cash on an expensive lertilizer, Chances are you have the ingredients for making your own inexpensive, earth-friendly plant food right at hand.
We've polled garden experts from around the country for their favorite fertilizer formulas. Many of these fertilizer mixes, blends, and solutions provide more than the big three nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They also include vital mi-cronutrients, plant growth hormones, soil conditioners, and even disease and insect fighters. Some of these time-tested fertilizer lormulas include traditional, easy-to-find materials, like fish emulsion and manure. Others make use of more unusual ingredients, like Epsom salts and vinegar. Stil! others make the most of kitchen and garden wastes, including coffee grounds and weeds.
We hope these gardener-to-gardener formulas will inspire you to cook up some of your own creative mixes by making use of locally available materials for fertilizer Collect wastes from local breweries, manure from zoos or local farms, leaves from curbsides, and kitchen scraps from restaurants or grocery stores. Many establishments will be glad to have your haul away their wastes for tree.
Some of the recipes in this chapter include fertilizer products that you'll need to buy at a garden center or through a mail-order supply company. If you're new to using organic fertilizers, you may not know the names of some of these products. Here's a rundown of some products you'll use:
Blood meal: dried blood produced as a by-product of the meat industry; contains about 13 percent nitrogen Colloidal phosphate: day washed from rock phosphate when the rock phosphate is mined; good source of phosphorus
Cottonseed meal: a waste product left after cottonseed oil is pressed out of cottonseed; may contain chemical residues Fish emulsion: a liquid by-product of the animal feed industry, made from fish; good source of nitrogen Greensand: mined mineral deposits; good source of potassium and other minerals Guano: aged, dried bird or bat droppings; high in nitrogen and phosphate V
m hi harvests of vegetables and fruit will require more frequent fertilizer applications, particularly before and immediately after flowering.
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