Gardening is one of my favorite labor-of-loves. When you produce your own food, you have control over the types of food you grow and knowing exactly how it has been produced.
And being outside on your own property, planting and nurturing growing things provides a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction too.
This year, I have not been able to plant as I had wanted because we are going to be moving soon, so my poor little garden box has gone fallow. We thought we’d have moved a month ago or, but we are still waiting for the bank to give us a long-awaited answer about approval on our short-sale.
Because I’m not gardening this year, I’m continuing to support local farmers, which I always do. And, I’m ever-so-grateful to have an informative guest post about making your own organic fertilizer for your garden from Marina Chernyak. I’ve never made my own fertilizer, so this is something I definitely want to try next year. I hope you can use this easy, step-by-step guide to make the most out of what you’ve planted this season and next.
If you’re one of the lucky ones with a garden of your own, you’ll want to derive as much produce as possible from every square foot of it. If you follow organic, sustainable gardening practices, not only can you feed your family entirely out of your garden, you can actually optimize you’re the nutritional quality of your produce. We’ve detailed methods using which you can create a properly balanced organic fertilizing mix that is quite potent and effective. This fertilizer works out far less expensive than its commercial alternatives, not to mention that it allows your soil to breathe. Use this fertilizer along with regular compost additions to experience incredible results.
Components of organic fertilizer
Five elements come together to form organic fertilizer, all of which play important roles when it comes to providing soil nutrition. In order to make your fertilizer, you need to add all the required components into a compost bin. This is where all the chemical and physical reactions will occur and form the organic fertilizer.
The five key elements are:
- The green layer that produces nitrogen
- The brown layer that produces carbon
- Good quality air
- Water free of chemicals
- Garden soil
Step 1: Get your compost bin ready
You need to invest in a good sized compost bin in which you can make enough fertilizer to suffice your entire garden. You can either buy a large enough plastic bin, or dig a pit that’s one cubic meter by one cubic yard and layer it with plastic. You can also consider constructing a cement tank for this purpose and cover it with a lid that has a few holes for air. Whatever you do, ensure that the compost bin is sturdy enough to contain the chemical reactions that will take place within it.
Step 2: Put together the green layer
You need to gather organic and biodegradable materials such as coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps, plant and grass cuttings and tea leaves. This collection forms the green layer that will produce the nitrogen your fertilizer needs. The green layer works to trap heat. Heat is the catalyst in the fertilizer: it is the trigger factor that gets soil nutrients to develop.
Step 2: Put together the brown layer
You can add dead plants, weeds, sawdust, wilted flowers, bits of cardboard, straw, hay and other items to comprise the brown layer. This forms your fertilizer’s fiber source. They react when the green layer produces heat.
Step 3: Assemble the compost
Once you’ve collected substantial quantities of both layer elements, add one part of the green layer to every three parts of the brown layer to your compost bin. Ensure that you distribute both components properly. For each set
of green and brown layers, splash some water into the bin and then soil. Repeat the process: 3 parts brown, 1 part green, some water, and then soil, till the bin is full. Give the compost a stir every day and continue to add water. It takes a month or two for the compost to biodegrade. You’ll know this process has occurred when you get a strong odor.
Step 4: Apply the organic fertilizer to your garden
Spread a layer of your organic fertilizer to your garden evenly. The fertilizer interacts with the soil, passing on its nutrients to it. Your plants will grow strong and tall. Retain the remaining fertilizer in the compost bin and mix it with water and new compost materials to extend the fertilizer’s life.
Alternative organic homemade organic fertilizer components
The best organic fertilizers are made out of seed meals and different kinds of lime. You’ll need these two to grow a great garden. You can also add other phosphorous-based components to your fertilizer, as explained below:
1. Seed meals A vegetable oil byproduct, seed meals are made from flaxseed, soybeans, sunflowers, canola, cotton seeds and similar oil seeds. Depending on the part of the country you’re from, you might get a different kind of seed meal. You can store seed meals for a long time, as long as you store them in a dry, airtight metal container, away from pests. As discussed on the Mother Earth News, to avoid issues from genetic modification in seed meals, choose certified organic meals.
2. Lime Lime is a kind of rock that contains a great deal of calcium. You’ll find three kinds of lime:
- Agricultural lime, comprised purely out of calcium carbonate
- Gypsum, which is another form of calcium sulfate (sulfur is a vital plant nutrient).
- Dolomite, also called dolomitic lime which is composed of equal amounts of magnesium carbonates and calcium.
You can use a mixture of all three types of lime in your fertilizer, or choose just dolomite. Make sure you use natural lime, and not burnt lime, quicklime, hydrated lime or similar chemically-treated, active “hot” limes.
3. Phosphorous-rich components Give your fertilizer a phosphorus boost by adding phosphate rock, guano (bird or bat manure), and bone meal and so on. Guano and phosphate contain a rich trove of trace elements, which is extremely beneficial to your soil. Another component to consider is kelp meal, which is dried seaweed. However, this component is a bit costly, but if you can get hold of it, your garden will thank you for it. Kelp weed contains a composite range of trace minerals, apart from natural hormones whose action is similar to that of plant vitamins and growth regulators that resist stress.
Marina is a SAHM, enjoys doing organic gardening at home and co-owner of cocktail table store 1001cocktailtables.com