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I thought I'd get the ball rolling on this one.
I'm not an expert really but I was a "certified plant expert" at Home Depot. I worked on a landscaping crew in college and that was almost entirely organic (they used Round-up on weeds sidewalk cracks.)So I have a little experience and I can point out a lot of sources on the web. I am going to double check some info and then we'll start with fertilizers natural and organic.

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Member # 3358

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Ok, chemical fertilizers utilize 3 main ingrediants, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. This is shown as NPK. Nitrogen is good for foliage growth, and general growth, phosphorus promotes root growth, potassium supports foliage. A lawn fertilizer tends to be quite high in nitrogen Scott’s turf builder for example is 29-2-4. Plant foods ten to go 10-10-10 for example Scott’s All Purpose but that does vary. (Miracle Grow all purpose is 24-8-16 for example) I wouldn’t generally recommend a lawn fertilizer for vegetables. Several different companies make a battery of fertilizers to be applied to lawns throughout the year. Usually at least one of them is a “weed and feed” which also contains a herbicide. (My customers seemed to like it. I can’t say I’ve personally used it as 1. I have a bias towards organic. 2. I prefer my lawn to be a polyculture, a few violets don’t bother me. 3. My lot wasn’t graded so the soil is good enough for grass to begin with.

Ok natural fertilizers.

1. Compost-the essence of natural fertilization is compost, all else is commentary. J Compost is basically natural materials which have been allowed to break down. Compost which is ready to use is crumbly and dark. I think it looks a bit like potting mix, which it is often in. You can make compost from soft vegetables, lawn clippings and herbivore manure (sorry, the contents of the cat box aren’t going to be good compost) Composting is and art and a science, there are tons of resources and articles about it. At Campus Gardens we just piled the stuff we pulled from the flower beds, weeds and exhausted flowers, and left it on the pile to rot. Turning accelerates the process (and a good hot pile reduces weeds) but my boss couldn’t be bothered. There’s a ton of information out there, just google compost. Here’s one site. http://www.composting101.com/

It isn’t particularly a quick process even if it is accelerated. Manure needs time to rot before you use use, except (I’m told) rabbit manure it is too high in nitrogen and will burn your plants. We’ve got a pile of it out at our cabin that’s had about a year to decay and it’s prime right now.)

Worms can speed things up too. That’s called vermiculture, besides breaking down the vegetable matter their castings (aka poop) is high quality fertilizer.

2. Bone meal adds phosphorus. Our roses and geraniums seemed to like it a lot.

3. Blood meal adds nitrogen

4. Fish emulsion is what its name implies. Wikipedia gives it a NPK of 5-2-2. We usually used it mixed with water as an additive. It looks a bit like melted chocolate ice cream but does NOT smell like it.

5. Green manures are plants like clover which add nitrogen to the soil through a process called nitrogen fixation and then can be turned under later to rot into the soil.

Various organic fertilizers can be mixed with water to form a kind of “tea” that can be used as a liquid fertilizer.

So that should get this thread started. If anybody has corrections to make I won’t mind.

My sources on this were the Scott’s website, The Small Garden by C.E. Lucas Phillips, The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, good ol Wikipedia and my own experience.

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kenmeer livermaile
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My backyard garden has been composted for years by vegetation mixed with the poop of formerly three (now five!) doggies.

Things grow back there like wonder.

Wiki say:

"Due to the relatively lower level of proteins in vegetable matter, herbivore manure has a milder smell than the dung of carnivores or omnivores – for example, elephant dung is practically odorless."

It probably takes *more* compost matter/energy to turn all that residual protein in carnivore poop than to get the same amount of nitrogen from herbivore poop, but the poop, she composts, cap'n. She does.

Nice dark crumbly stuff at the bottom, put it on the plants, and they grow. I got lots of worm in my pile. They like all them coffee grounds I produce as a major caffeine junkie.


"Manure generates heat as it decomposes, and it is not unheard of for manure to ignite spontaneously should it be stored in a massive pile.[3] Once such a large pile of manure is burning, it will foul the air over a very large area and require considerable effort to extinguish. Large feedlots must therefore take care to ensure that piles of fresh manure (faeces) do not get excessively large. There is no serious risk of spontaneous combustion in smaller operations.

Gives a hole new meaning to hole-y smoke, don't it? (constipation as a cause of spontaneous combustion.)

[ June 05, 2009, 10:54 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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And then ye larn something new ever day:

In our compost operation we accepted all clean organic waste. We got paunch manure from a slaughterhouse. Paunch manure is what dumps from the stomach and intestines, the food that the animal had eaten that day and not yet passed out as manure. This stuff makes excellent compost. It is full all types of beneficial microbes and enzymes.

Our dogs and all the dogs from neighbors quickly learned to come and eat from it. Soon the coyotes found it and they to came and had a feast.

We had three big dogs. The oldest always had bad skin problems, with a bad odor, the vet said to feed the dogs some fat such as lard and tallow. It helped some but the fleas and ticks and bad odor on the old dog remained. Our family never had money to spend on dog doctors. However our old dog started smelling better, soon his coat was healthy and shiny then we noticed neither he nor any of the other dogs had fleas or ticks. Then neighbors were telling us their dogs that ran loose no longer had fleas. We all thought it must be the weather or the season.

I was giving a talk at a college. On soil and health when a M.D. told me a story how a Zoo cured their sick carnivores by feeding them paunch from rumen animals on a tip from an old hunter that noticed that in the wild when a carnivore killed an herbivore they always ate the gut first. I have also listened to ranchers tell about eagles killing baby sheep in the late winter and only eat the gut and they believed the eagles were after some vitamin or other nutrient that was in the stomach of these herbivores

I got to think back and realized the ticks and fleas and other canine problems disappeared when we started using the punch in the compost. We got our proof when we opened a new compost yard miles away and took paunch for composting and the dogs in that neighborhood cleaned up slick and shiny and all fleas and ticks disappeared. Coyotes and other wild meat eaters also visited the fresh dumped paunch each night. We didn't catch and inspect any of the wild critters but they looked awfully healthy and happy.

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