This post is a continuation from the post Fertilizer for vegetables by my guest blog writer, Rob. Now let’s get started.
Why would you make homemade fertilizer?
The quick answer is it’s cheaper than buying organic fertilizer. The second answer is it’s formulated to work best with your soil.
First, test your soil
Ideally you want to test your soil to find out the ratings of the NPK already in your soil. In addition to the NPK rating, a soil test will tell you the Ph of your soil. This is important because if your Ph is too high, it will actually restrict the release of the NPK nutrients. In other words you’ll spend good money and intentions fertilizing your garden and the darn soil’s Ph will lock up the crown jewels!
An easy, low cost soil test can be purchased from your local hardware and garden store. Better yet, send a sample of your soil to the local county extension office and they will give you a real thorough analysis.
Once you know your Ph is in acceptable range (the soil kit should tell you if it is) and you know how high or low your soil is in the different NPK ranges, you can formulate a fertilizer that is right for your soil. Yes, you the Master of Your Garden can be in control!
What goes into creating the fertilizer?
I reference the book How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons to find out what percentages of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium are needed, based on the results of the soil test, to make a custom fertilizer.
Note that these nutrients comes in various forms:
- Nitrogen comes in blood meal, fish meal, or cottonseed meal.
- Phosphorous in bone meal or phosphate rock.
- Potassium in kelp mea, greensand, or crushed granite.
Procuring the ingredients
Once you know what you need, shop around for bulk amounts of those nutrients, in any of those forms. You will usually find 10, 25 or even 50 pound bags of these nutrients are quite affordable at local farm and feed stores.
Making the fertilizer
Once you buy your ingredients get a nice size bucket and simply weigh out each ingredient to fit the percentages that you need for your custom fertilizer blend. Mix the ingredients thoroughly using a big mixing stick or motorized paint mixer. I have a blade that digs holes for bulbs that I put on my drill and it mixes the ingredients really well!
You’ll have a great supply of fertilizer and the bulk ingredients you have will last you for lots of gardening seasons. You might want to run a soil test every year to see if you have to adjust your custom mix, but I always seem to need the same mix every year.