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Wyf dur wyf dryw wyf saer
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Can anyone suggest a good natural fertilizer for a home food garden? Growing cukes, toms, onions, garlic, lettuces, carrots, okra, snow peas, various peppers, etc. Last year I relied on the big box garden store soil variety with added fertilizer and most everything did fine, but want to get away from that and get chem free.

Thanks!
 

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Krazy Kitty
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When you find out let me know. I only have tomato and pepper plants because I live in an apartment. But something is already chewing my pepper plants. And the tomato plants have white spots on some of the leaves.
 

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Taoist
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I use manure as well...I don't see much mention of this, but you might want to Google "Humanure". We use that too. We have a sawdust toilet in the basement.
 

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I have control issues
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I use rabit poo. Since I raise my own rabbits, they give me a constant source of fertilizer which I can either compost or use directly in the garden. And, the plants love it.
 

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Compost is my mainstay. Everything out of the lawn goes in there. Then there's glacial rock dust/powder. I've read that you can often get it for free at gravel pits or slab-grinding operations that make countertops or grave markers although I haven't had the courage to ask, yet. If not, the hardware stores have lots of different natural mineral fertilizers, and a good garden store owner can hopefully help you pick something out that contains a balanced mix of potash, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, etc. Even 'Alaska Fish' is a great starter for transplants, and it's just fish in solution, as I recall. I've used it for years.
 

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I compost chicken manure along with the straw and wood chips from the coupe when i clean it. To the compost pile I also add lawn clippings and ashes from the woodstove. It works well as my garden looks like a jungle (i garden in raised beds) the only chemical additives I use is lime but i haven't had to adjust the ph since I first put the beds in. When I first filled them I put a little over 500 lbs of composted cow manure and filled the rest with dirt. (4'X8' beds) our soil down here tends to be acidic so you may not need to adjust the ph. For organic pest control all you can really do is promote natural preditors so you just have to put up with the spiders and you can order ladybugs & praying mantis'
 

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Okay for me compost isn't gross 'calories' it's micronutrients, and fibre... although if you chop a legume crop off at ground level and plant something new, you've just provided reasonable nitrogen fertiliser in the nodules of the legume.

fertiliser for me involves

granite chip every few years
poos, yum yum, either chicken, cow, or whoever done something big enough to collect on the property (cow is very good when they're on hay ;))
fire ash. I make sure nothing plastic has burned in there.

Okay, so that's the Big Three, the NPK quotient. then you've got middling fertilisers... ie not so desperately needed.

I may also add on occasion, or substitute:
blood & bone, (nitrogen, calcium, etc)
gypsum (inert but a good soil conditioner. Also a good source of calcium without raising the pH.)

Also don't forget that high nitrogen fertilisers will acidify the soil, and lime will alkilinise it. Vege patches tend to like somewhere between 6.5 and 7, ie just a bit below neutral, but using nitrogen again and again over time will acidify your soil below that point. you can tell a bit by souring, where leaves go pale and the plants don't thrive, but that can be foir other reasons too.

Oh, and New Zealand is low in magnesium, so i tend to shower the place in epsom salts when it looks too rank as well.

:D all natural. cheers.

edit - just saw trekker's post. I must say, I don't really have parasite/pest problems. moving crops around stops things establishing, but also healthy plants don't get attacked so much, or can outgrow pests until the pest eater comes along. I think when the soil is all bacterially thriving and the plant is thriving, you don't get huge population bursts of any predator, there's more of a balance. Having a hedgerow filled with borage, queen anne's lace, bog sage, that sort of thing provides habitat for pest predators too.
 

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Maximus
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Can anyone suggest a good natural fertilizer for a home food garden? Growing cukes, toms, onions, garlic, lettuces, carrots, okra, snow peas, various peppers, etc. Last year I relied on the big box garden store soil variety with added fertilizer and most everything did fine, but want to get away from that and get chem free.

Thanks!
Ohhhh easy! And this one you can create you own supply. It is called Earthworm Castings.

Basically it is the crap leftover from earthworms. VERRRRY good source of nitrogen and it is about as natural as you can get. You can build your own worm bin to create your own replenishing supply or you can just buy bags of it. It is really the cleanest, purest type of soil you can find. The worms can be used as fishbait also :D:

More than just a great plant fertilizer, castings are also a terrific soil amendment, plant growth enhancer, and the gardener’s ultimate compost. Earthworm castings are clean, odorless, and can be used indoors and outdoors to provide a boost to all of your plants.

While the castings are concentrated and rich in nitrogen, they are gentle enough to be applied in direct contact to sensitive plant roots without fear of burning. Worm castings also supply magnesium, phosphates, calcium, potassium, and potash, along with a range of micro-nutrients and trace elements.

Worm castings are loaded with beneficial soil microbes and other soil organisms that will help restore life and health to depleted and worn out garden soils.
http://www.veggiegardeningtips.com/earthworm-castings/

Here is a site showing you how to create your own renewable source:
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Worm-Compost-System
 

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Accuracy is Final
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When you find out let me know. I only have tomato and pepper plants because I live in an apartment. But something is already chewing my pepper plants. And the tomato plants have white spots on some of the leaves.
Dig around your plants that have been chewed on, about 1" deep and about one foot or so around the plant. You will probably find a small grub like critter curled up, Cut Worms. A moth larve I believe. They are nocturnal, just kill them by hard is the easiest way.
 

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Here is Steve Solomon's recipe for COF ("Complete Organic Fertilizer"):

http://www.northwestgardennews.com/id286.html

I began recommending Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF) about 25 years ago because COF is simple to make; easy and pleasant to use; it is safe, even if somewhat over-applied; and it works marvelously almost anywhere for anyone. At today’s prices, highly potent COF still works out to be less costly than any other organic fertility source. The ingredients for COF are not usually found in garden centers. Source them from farm supply or animal feed stores, usually in 50 pound sacks. All the ingredients are stable (if kept dry) so there is no loss when buying enough for several years. If your garden is not large, I suggest starting with one bag of each item. Down To Earth, a distributor and retailer in Eugene, sells the ingredients and also makes their own effective version of COF, premixed and available from their store and from other regional shops they supply. In Seattle, check out Walt’s Organic Fertilizer Company.

When blending COF all ingredients are measured by volume, using a tin can or other scoop. Do not measure by weight. Into a large plastic bucket pour the following:

4 measures of canola seed meal or cottonseed meal;

1/2 measure of ordinary agricultural lime;

1/2 measure of dolomite lime;

1 measure of bone meal or rock phosphate or high phosphate guano;

1/2 to 1 measure of kelp meal.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly.

Uniformly spread 4–6 quarts of COF per 100 sq. feet of growing bed or, if growing in long rows, 4–6 quarts of COF per 50 row feet, covering a band about 18” wide with the row of seeds or seedlings located in the center of that band. Dig it in and plant or sow seeds. If you’ll be sowing seeds do not apply more than the amount I suggest because if you create too much fertility, germination may fail. Once the seedlings are up, if your crop does not grow fast enough to suit you, side-dress it with up to another 4–6 quarts per 100 sq. ft of bed or 50 feet of row. There is no need to hoe in what was side-dressed. If the extra COF gives you a good result you shouldn’t need any more through the entire crop cycle. If the extra COF had no result, you did not need it, and do not add any more because you might overfertilize and harm your plants.
 

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If you want to get serious on it, try The New Organic Grower from Eliot Coleman. Lots of information and techniques to apply as much as you can or want.
 

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For something simple and organic and your yard will produce all the nitrogen your garden will need each year, (grass clippings). Of coarse for the organic you will need to ensure that your yard doesn't use chemical fertilizers nor pesticides. I have only put all my grass clipping into my present garden and once every 4/5 years I will put some composted material in also. The grass clippings also work as a mulch to keep weed growth down.
 

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find out what does what, PH wise. tea bags and coffee grounds can be added to left over veggies in a compost pile and make a real good fertilizer. keep powdered lime around to decrease acidity in your garden. we have really acidic ground here so i add lime every year. let a compost pile set for a year if you can so it can totally break down.
 

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I read that unless you do composting properly you loose a lot of nutrients.

For a long time I had been dumping my grass clippings just in a big pile. Building a composting bin is on the list.

For some of my in ground tomatoes I mixed some of these grass clippings into the soil if only to loosen it up and let more air get to the roots as tomatoes don't need much nitrogen - in fact too much means too much stem and leaves and too few tomatoes. Hopefully this will not be too much.

As fro pH are the testing kits you buy at like ACE Hardware any good?
 
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