Slow Release Complete Organic Fertilizer
I've received a lot of questions lately about what we use as fertilizer, and so here is a brief post sharing the decades-old recipe we continue to follow from one of our gardening gurus, Steve Solomon, founder of Territorial Seed and author of Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades and The Intelligent Gardener.
4 parts soybean (cottonseed, linseed, etc) meal (e.g. 50 pounds)
1/2 part phosphate (e.g. 6.25 pounds rock phosphate or bone meal)
1/2 part lime (e.g. 6.25 pounds, ideally 1/2 dolomitic and 1/2 agricultural lime)
1/2 part kelp meal (e.g. 6.25 pounds — it’s a bonus ingredient, but we always add it)
We choose to make this starting with a 50 pound sack of soybean meal. Our weighed proportions are listed parenthetically. We carefully mix all ingredients together in a large container or on a tarp, using a shovel or other implement to fully incorporate all ingredients together. It is important that you continue to mix the ingredients together so they are evenly dispersed so you don’t have veins of kelp meal or rock phosphate; you want these same proportions in each scoop you drop into your transplanting holes. We store this in a rodent-proof container in our barn.
The beauty of this recipe is it doesn’t have to be exact. More of something and less of something else will neither burn your plants nor will it be detrimental. For example, our kelp meal typically comes in odd pound containers, so sometimes I may add the 6.25 pounds, and others I may only add 6 or a little less and even other times I may go closer to 7 pounds. The kelp meal is a bonus, but in my opinion a key investment as those trace minerals quietly work wonders for plant regulation and growth.
If you could only afford to add one ingredient to your beds every year, it would hands down be invest in the soybean meal. That alone is a huge benefit to your veggie garden. The addition of kelp meal will ensure the ongoing availability of trace minerals for your plants as they go about their amazing journey to produce food for you and your family.
We use approximately 1/4 cup in every transplant hole. We mix it together with the loosened soil so it is in the surrounding root zone of the transplant. On occasion, we will top dress plants part way through the growing season, crops like tomatoes, peppers, and perhaps our onions and garlic. But by and large, the only addition of fertilizer is this one time at transplant. For direct sown crops, we sprinkle on top of the soil before a good rain and after the seedlings have emerged and established.