Ask a Question forum: Do you mix your own fertilizer?

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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 8, 2016 5:26 PM CST
I've been reading The Garden Primer and as a beginner gardener I am getting a lot from it. Very informative, easy to understand (http://tinyurl.com/jd64rqk). In the section where the author talks about fertilizers, she mentioned that prepared fert you get in bags is much more expensive than getting the right ingredients and mixing it yourself. I'm all for cutting costs so the idea seemed feasible until I told my wife about it. She pointed out that it sounds like the same idea of cooking all our meals from scratch. Yes, it would cut the grocery bill way down, but is it practical for us? The answer is NO! She had a point there. We barely have room for a few bags of fert or soil in our cramped shed, the only place to store something like that.

What I was wondering is how many out there actually do "cook fert" from scratch?
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jul 8, 2016 5:30 PM CST
I bought a 50# bag of urea (pure N: CO(NH2)2), 46-0-0.

It needs to be applied very thinly and soaked into the soil before it turns to ammonia and evaporates.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jul 8, 2016 5:33 PM CST
I just buy fertilizer ready to put out. I already have enough of a mess in my garage without adding more. And all that measuring and mixing. Well, no thanks.
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Jul 8, 2016 5:34 PM CST
I'm the same way. I buy it since I don't want the mess of storing and using many different bags of the ingredients.
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Jul 8, 2016 5:37 PM CST
My farm animals do the mixing - made fresh daily.
Porkpal
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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Altheabyanothername
Jul 8, 2016 5:38 PM CST
I make my own fertilizer. And like all fertilizer it smells. I cannot compost because of all the paper mulberry tree roots, vines and yard size. My fertilizer is for flowers, I would not do what I do for veggies.
So if you are interested in flower fertilizer I will post instructions.
May you have a wonderful and safe weekend!
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jul 8, 2016 5:44 PM CST
There are ways to "make" fertilizer.
http://www.homegrownfun.com/natural-fertilizers-around-house...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 8, 2016 7:27 PM CST
[quote="greene"]There are ways to "make" fertilizer.
]http://www.homegrownfun.com/natural-fertilizers-around-house...

The grass-clippings and weeds in a bucket sounds very doable, even if our "grass" clippings are mostly weed-clippings!
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 8, 2016 9:14 PM CST
I think it would be a shame for you to undertake this to save money, only to find there are complications that will cost you some plants in the process. A couple of problems with doing this come to mind for me.

First, how do you figure out how much to use, so as not to either starve or over-fertilize (burn) your plants. That's going to take you some serious trial and error time, I think.

Second, you'll also have to carefully document your plants' reactions to this fert, so you'll know how often you need to re-apply. Different plants use different amounts, Weather will affect the release rate. It's not simple. Up there in the Pac. Northwest you can have very short, rainy cool summers, or long, hot ones.

I love the pelleted, timed-release fertilizers. I used Osmocote for years, but have found a better product formulated for Florida that is not affected so much by our high humidity and temperatures in summer. We are restricted from applying any fertilizer that contains nitrogen during the summer months, June 1 to Sept 30 so putting out a timed-release fert in March or April covers all my bases over the summer without the added worry of excess fert going into the waterways during out wet summer monsoons.

If you have the time and patience to hover over your plants all through the growing season, and monitor their growth and color and performance, that's great and it might be fun. But the stuff I use lets me apply it once per season and I'm done. Well worth the extra cost.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 8, 2016 10:29 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:
...

If you have the time and patience to hover over your plants all through the growing season, and monitor their growth and color and performance, that's great and it might be fun.


Time and patience are both limited, however the more I learn, the more patience I have. Time is still limited by a 45 hour work week and other non-gardening tasks around home. I only learned recently that potting soil isn't really soil and has no nutrients, hence I've been reading more about plant nutrients and fertilizers. My wife's comparison with cooking meals from scratch pretty much killed the idea, it's just not practical for my level except on a limited basis, e.g. weeds and grass in a 5 gallon bucket sounds like it would be an easy experiment. I was mostly curious as to what others do, sounds like it goes across the entire spectrum.

"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 8, 2016 10:32 PM CST
Altheabyanothername said:I make my own fertilizer. And like all fertilizer it smells. I cannot compost because of all the paper mulberry tree roots, vines and yard size. My fertilizer is for flowers, I would not do what I do for veggies.
So if you are interested in flower fertilizer I will post instructions.
May you have a wonderful and safe weekend!


Sure, why not. Even if I decide it's not for me, somebody else might.

"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
Grace of the Lord Jesus be with all
Daylilies Garden Art Irises Region: Texas Clematis Lilies
Amaryllis Bulbs
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Altheabyanothername
Jul 9, 2016 1:56 AM CST
@brinybay-- I buy the 5 gallon buckets with lids. Home Depot is a better bucket harder lid to get off. Lowes lids are easier to get off, but their buckets crack easier. All green material meaning coffee grinds, all fruits and vegetables garbage that has not been cooked, egg shells, small amounts of bread, kitchen waste only into the bucket. If there is an apple, it should be chopped into smaller pieces. Keep pushing and fill it up. At all times make sure the lid is on tightly. Every time you add, stir a little. You will need to keep a brick or two on top. The lid will want to pop itself off. Also, anytime you open, watch where you put the lid. It will have alot of condensation on it. Once full just leave the bucket. Here in the Texas heat it takes 6 to 8 months of sitting. Stir once or twice. It becomes a dark green liquid and it smells. Never leave the lid off. I stack buckets on top of each other.
Take 1/2 of the bucket, add 2 qts wood ash, 4 cups epsom salts, 2 cups ironite and 2 qts alfalfa meal. Stir . Then I mix a couple of shovels of well rotted manure. I add water to get it to the top of the bucket. Now it's ready. If you are digging holes for plants mix it in the hole. Top fertilizer for roses, daylilies or perennials circle around plants. I put well rotted cow manure(no longer smells) thickly over mixture. Brown cuts green odor. You could remove a little soil first and put that back over. Plants like iris, I turn it into liquid feed and pour around them. There is an odor to the liquid but odor goes away after a rain. 2qts of mixture makes about 5 gallons of liquid. Always keep covered, no exceptions! Most of everything in there is free wood ash, food scraps,. You need the epsom salts and iron. Epsom salts in a bag are cheap at Sam"s or Walmart. You could pass on the alfalfa, there is a natural growth hormone in it and my plants grow better. Many blessings to you and may all your endeavors be successful.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jul 11, 2016 12:24 PM CST
If you can grow or find the raw ingredients, compost is free, though it takes time, some space, and hauling the raw ingredients to the compost heap.

If you can add a few inches of finished compost every year to a bed, after several years the soil won't need added fertilizer unless you grow corn or some other "heavy feeder". Or add 2-6 inches of leaves or slowly-decomposing mulch every year.

Inorganic fertilizer alone is bad for soil, since it doesn't add the carbon that soil organisms need to consume. And you need those soil organisms to keep the root zone healthy. So even if you do add chemical fertilizer, you still need compost.

But if you add enough compost, you won't need chemical fertilizers.

You can't get any cheaper than free!
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Brinybay
Jul 12, 2016 10:51 PM CST
Altheabyanothername said:@brinybay-- I buy the 5 gallon buckets with lids. Home Depot is a better bucket harder lid to get off. Lowes lids are easier to get off, but their buckets crack easier. All green material meaning coffee grinds, all fruits and vegetables garbage that has not been cooked, egg shells, small amounts of bread, kitchen waste only into the bucket. If there is an apple, it should be chopped into smaller pieces. Keep pushing and fill it up. At all times make sure the lid is on tightly. Every time you add, stir a little. You will need to keep a brick or two on top. The lid will want to pop itself off. Also, anytime you open, watch where you put the lid. It will have alot of condensation on it. Once full just leave the bucket. Here in the Texas heat it takes 6 to 8 months of sitting. Stir once or twice. It becomes a dark green liquid and it smells. Never leave the lid off. I stack buckets on top of each other.
Take 1/2 of the bucket, add 2 qts wood ash, 4 cups epsom salts, 2 cups ironite and 2 qts alfalfa meal. Stir . Then I mix a couple of shovels of well rotted manure. I add water to get it to the top of the bucket. Now it's ready. If you are digging holes for plants mix it in the hole. Top fertilizer for roses, daylilies or perennials circle around plants. I put well rotted cow manure(no longer smells) thickly over mixture. Brown cuts green odor. You could remove a little soil first and put that back over. Plants like iris, I turn it into liquid feed and pour around them. There is an odor to the liquid but odor goes away after a rain. 2qts of mixture makes about 5 gallons of liquid. Always keep covered, no exceptions! Most of everything in there is free wood ash, food scraps,. You need the epsom salts and iron. Epsom salts in a bag are cheap at Sam"s or Walmart. You could pass on the alfalfa, there is a natural growth hormone in it and my plants grow better. Many blessings to you and may all your endeavors be successful.


Thanks for all that. Too advanced for me at this point in time, but I'll keep it for reference.

"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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sallyg
Jul 13, 2016 5:43 AM CST
Given your time constraints, premixed fertilizer is just fine.
Burying small amounts of kitchen waste in your garden will serve as mini composting of sorts with the only time being a minute with a trowel.

I use Vigoro 'blue crystal' stuff for pots, and compost for gardens, occasionally some commercial fertilizer. A ratio of 3-1-2 (6-2-4 etc) or close would be fine for everything. I think there's more expense in chasing specialty fertilizers.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)

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