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Organic Fertilizer & NPK Info

This recipe came from The Westside Gardener and was written by Travis Saling.  You can visit their website here www.westsidegardener.com   Also check our his website for "How To Fertilize" by clicking here http://westsidegardener.com/howto/fertilizer.html
Research done by Pat Franklin
How to Mix Homemade Organic Fertilizer

Buy large bags of ingredients and mix according to volume. That is, use a container such as a bucket for 1 part.

Mix the following:

  • 4 parts seed meal such as cottonseed or alfalfa
  • 1/4 part agricultural lime
  • 1/4 part gypsum
  • 1/2 dolomite lime
  • 1 part bone meal
  • 1/2 part kelp meal
Mix 4 quarts of fertilizer in with 100 square feet of soil before planting. Use as a side dressing every few weeks throughout the growing season.
 Additional Organic Sources Below
Organic Nitrogen Sources
  • Animal manure - You want manures that come from cows, rabbits, horses, sheep, horses, alpacas, llamas, and chickens. Not animals that primarily eat meat such as dogs or cats - that's a  Big no-no. Manure from meat-eaters can contain harmful pathogens that you really don't want to come into contact with. Usually manures are composted before they're used in gardens, but some such as rabbit manure doesn't need to be. Others such as cow manure, will burn your plants if not composted first. Bat guano (bat poo) is nitrogen gold.
  • Worm Castings – They are a great fertilizer
  • Alfalfa meal - Not only does alfalfa offer a big bang of nitrogen, it's also a terrific organism activator for soil. Great in the compost bin too. Use alfalfa meal on the plants that are gluttons for food like corn.
  • Blood meal - It's exactly what it sounds like. It's dried blood from animals...but it's loaded with nitrogen
  • Fish meal or fish emulsion - This is going to stink for a bit, but the smell doesn't last and your plants will love it.  Fish meal is better than emulsion only because the emulsion is said to wash away faster.
  • Coffee Grounds - Stop by your local Starbucks or Roots Coffee House and snag a bag. Many coffee houses have the used grounds already bagged up and free for the taking. Sprinkle it around your azaleas, blueberries, and the like for the acidity...but it also brings terrific nitrogen, too.
  • Grass clippings - Green grass freshly mowed from the lawn is an excellent source of free nitrogen.

Organic Phosphorus Sources

  • Rock phosphate - Rock phosphate lasts a long time because it breaks down very slowly. The   phosphorus doesn't become fully available to plants for about a year.
  • Bone meal - Bone meal is animal bones that have been grounded into powder. It's highly phosphorus as well as calcium, but this is also a slow-releasing source. It's great for promoting flower blossoms as well as encouraging good root growth.
  • Colloidal phosphate - This is a soft-rock phosphate and is also called "colloidal calcium phosphate".

Organic Potassium Sources

  • Greensand - This is mined from mineral deposits that came from the ocean floor. It's not only high in potassium but it's good for general soil amending, as well.
  • Kelp meal - Kelp meal is derived from dried seaweed. This is an exceptionally good fertilizer as it contains a lot of trace mineral and hormones that really give plant roots what they need to create strong plants. A popular organic fertilizing combination is kelp meal and fish emulsion.
  • Granite meal - Granite meal is finely ground granite rock that promotes healthy plants by not only slowly releasing potassium, but also by helping create soil structure and improving soil drainage.

 What is N-P-K?

As an all-around general soil amendment, there's nothing better than compost for your soil. Composted organic matter adds all kinds of nutrients and makes them easily available to plant roots. You've certainly noticed these letters on the front of the box or bag of fertilizer while in a garden center or nursery. Each letter is desirable in higher amounts depending on what kind of plant (lettuce or tomato) or which part of the lifecycle the plant is currently in, such as, growing, blooming or fruiting.

The most important thing you can do in your garden is get your soil tested first.  You can do this here http://soiltesting.tamu.edu
N - stands for nitrogen.  This nutrient is the leaf and stem developer and when adding nitrogen, things growing fast. It's good for leafy vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, etc.

P - stands for phosphorus. This nutrient is valuable for developing flowers and fruit - plus helps roots take quickly to the soil around them. If there are a lot of leaves and stems developing on your fruiting crops  and no fruit, you may need a boost of phosphorus.

K - stands for potassium. Potassium promotes healthy roots systems and helps the plants resist disease. It also works alongside the phosphorus in developing fruit. This is importance if you're growing root crops such as carrots or turnips.

One example of an organic fertilizer is blood meal. On the blood meal bag will say "11-3-0". Which means there's 11 percent nitrogen, 3 percent phosphorus, and zero potassium. The idea is to not only respond to what looks like a nutritional deficiency in your plants by adding the right nutrient, but to add them at the right time to prevent deficiencies and enhance healthy plant growth and food production.

So while the plant is actively growing or if it's a leafy vegetable, you'll want that first letter ("N") to be a larger number than the other two numbers. When the plant begins to bloom, side dress it with a fertilizer that has a higher middle letter ("P"). And it's a good idea to add the last letter (K) potassium periodically for the general health of the plants.