How To Do Things: Fertilize Organically

A good time to add amendments to your garden soil is when you are preparing your beds for spring. Loosening and aerating the soil while incorporating amendments mixes everything together well, knocking off two tasks at once.

But what sort of amendments should you add? Short of taking a soil sample and sending it in for a complete analysis and set of recommendations (which is what we do here at the farm), the best solution I have found for the home gardener is to utilize the recipe for Steve Solomon’s “Complete Organic Fertilizer,” taken from his book The Intelligent Gardener.

On the up side, the recipe is adaptable, and it provides a nice range of nutrients. The down side is that some of the ingredients might take a little looking to find. (I have found them at various co-ops and agricultural supply stores, but I’ve never looked to see if they’re stocked at local garden centers.)

What about compost, you might ask. Yup, use that, too—it’s going to add organic matter and improve your soil’s texture, as well as provide some nutrients. But to ensure your plants are getting the full profile of what they need, I think it’s best to fortify your compost application with the sort of amendments Solomon’s recipe provides.