Amendments are fertilizers and minerals that one can add to their garden's soil or berry patch that will help correct deficiencies (if they exist) and encourage the little animals that are the denizens of your soil to thrive. Here in our part of Indiana, we have hilly ground with average to low fertility soils. To compensate for our poorer soils, we utilize organic fertilizers and rock powders. Listed on this page are some amendments you may want to purchase, if you are unable to find them in your area (check feed stores and garden centers).
This plant-based fertilizer is the standard for our farm and
nursery plants. It has an NPK rating equivalent to 2-0.2-1.3, and releases nitrogen slowly over the season. It
does not burn plants, but must be incorporated into the soil at
planting, or placed under mulch if top-dressing, to keep it from
spoiling (it has between an 18-28% protein content, so it is
very attractive to some insects if left lying in a sodden mass
on top of the ground).
For new blueberry plantings, use about 1 pound per planting hole, and brambles can use about a half-pound. If fall planting before plants have gone dormant (August-September), withhold top-dressing fertilizers until spring to reduce winter cold damage to twig tips, however, alfalfa meal is OK to use at that time of year as it is very low in available nitrogen.
Apply at the rate of 8-10 pounds per 100 square feet for vegetable gardens. You should be able to find alfalfa meal locally at your feed stores. It usually comes in a 50# bag, but if you ask, they may sell some by weight to you. Pellets are best used with larger plants and gardens, meal is better for potting mixes and seedlings.
Price: $22.00 for 10# (includes shipping).
This is another
plant-based fertilizer that dove-tails beautifully with alfalfa.
You can look up kelp meal on the internet and read all about it,
but I'll give you the skinny here. Kelp is a plant that
provides a complete micronutrient supply, properly proportioned,
to the soil. There is no guesswork about this element or
that, because kelp provides it. Now, that sounds great,
but it also means you don't want to apply too much, because that
could create a micronutrient imbalance. This could lead to
stunted plant growth, lack of production, and even death (sounds
like the side-effects for some our pharmaceuticals, eh?).
Yet, kelp meal in and of itself is entirely safe to handle,
and we use and sell a livestock-feed grade of kelp.
"Everything in good measure" is a phrase to which we could all
pay more attention. When applied at the rate of one pound
per 100 square feet per year, you are investing your soil with
just the right amount of support. Many of our soils lack a
balanced micronutrient profile, due to poor
agricultural/arboricultural history. With kelp, you can
help to restore the micronutrient cycle in your soil.
Blueberries seem to respond best to liquid kelp applications;
and if you want to use kelp meal, use it on blueberries at a
half-rate (1-2 Tbsp per plant) at planting time. New bramble plantings get 2-4 Tbsp.,
and vegetable growing areas get a1/2# to 1# per 100 square
feet, depending on how long they have been in production.
Price: $50.00 for 10#, $30.00 for 5# (includes shipping).
This is a rock powder that provides fruiting plants
with the additional phosphorous needed for healthy, regular
fruit production. Phosphorous also helps with early root
formation and growth, essential in establishing the plant
rapidly after transplanting. The granules we sell
are a natural colloidal soft phosphate that contains 20%P2O2 and 20% calcium (as well as
some other minor trace minerals). Phosphorous is needed by
all plants for healthy cell growth and division, photosynthesis,
and respiration, and can be applied at the rate of 1-2# per 100
square feet. We usually add a half cup of granules to each
planting hole for new berry plantings. Natural colloidal phosphate also helps to
promote the growth of earthworms and soil bacteria that aerate
and enrich the soil, unlike chemically treated phosphorous.
Naturally slow release, it has a 2% solubility (what is rapidly
Price: $38.00 for 10#, $22.00 for 5# (price includes shipping).
This is available for local purchase only at this time.
For detailed information on this product, you can go to the Neptune's Harvest website. I find it to be simply the best fertilizer (when coupled with liquid kelp and molasses) to use on plants. See our Plant Care page for more on Neptune's Harvest and how we use it.
Local Price for 1 gallon: $18.00
Price including shipping and handling:
1/2 gallon $27.00
1 gallon $41.00
This is a dehydrated kelp product that has all the benefits of
kelp, at an affordable price. 10.7 ounces (dry weight) of the
powder mixes with 1 gallon of water to make a gallon of liquid
concentrate. From this liquid concentrate, you use 1 Tbsp. per
gallon water for applying to your plants.
See our Plant Care page for use.
Very important to keep un-used portion sealed tight, as it will draw moisture to itself. We use pint canning jars, clearly labeled.
We sell the powder in bags of 5.35oz., enough to make a half-gallon of liquid concentrate. No preservatives added, so keep it cool and out of direct sun once the powder is mixed to make the liquid concentrate.
Price for 1 bag of 5.35oz: $6.00
(makes a half-gallon of liquid concentrate)
no shipping charge if you order it with your plants
as it will fit in the box with no extra charge for weight.
Contact us via email, sending your shipping address, if you want us to figure shipping on this for you.
This economical package comes with all the proportions of
amendments you need for planting 4 berry plants, as well as
Neptune's Harvest liquid fish and the soluble kelp powder
concentrate for the liquid feeding schedule on our plant care page.
Package includes 6# of alfalfa meal (1.5# per plant), 2 cups soft
rock phosphate (1/2 c. per plant), 1 cup kelp meal
(1/4 c. per plant, but usually not used with blueberries), 1 gallon Neptune's Harvest liquid fish fertilizer concentrate, and 10.6 oz. of the soluble kelp powder concentrate .
Total price including shipping: $70.00
This package is a modified version of the above, containing 10#
of alfalfa meal, 1 gallon of Neptune's Harvest liquid fish
fertilizer, and 5.35 oz of the soluble kelp powder concentrate.
Total price including shipping: $58.00
Organic fertilizers support the healthy growth of
soil biota when used properly. Just like all things that are
healthy to use, overuse or misuse can seriously affect your plants
health. This said, it is much harder to damage your plants or the
soil microbes' habitat with organic fertilizers than it is with
Chemical fertilizers are primarily salts that dissolve in water, and can be absorbed by plant roots. Organic fertilizers have some water soluble properties, but mostly they contain different qualities of carbon and minerals that microbes in the soil, as well as worms and mycelia fungi, can feed upon. Their waste products then become involved in the process that develops humus.
Humus is what determines the health of a soil, and maintains the balance of life around plant roots. Organic fertilizers feed this process, which in turn creates a healthy ecosystem for plant roots to grow and thrive. This is why, especially in poor soils (low humus, low microbe activity, low fungi count), it can be hard to see the effect of organic fertilizers, because the microbes that utilize and transform them are not present at healthy levels.
A great source of natural, readily available iron is in stinging nettles (Urtica dioica). To make a stiff drink rich in iron for your plants, just cram a bunch of the plant (stems and leaves) into a stock pot and brew for fifteen minutes. You can also just blender them up in water, and poor over the soil. Adding some stems and leaves to the mulch will also introduce iron, but it will take a little longer to reach the roots.
If you strain your tea, you can spray it on as a foliar amendment. Blueberries are especially good at absorbing iron through their leaves. I have used nettle tea to turn some potted blueberries that had turned yellow (no iron in potting media), back to green, and it only took 4 days (two applications of tea). Nettles really are an amazing plant in the organic growers toolbox. It does take time to make and apply, but it is chemical free and just what your plant needs.
Comfrey is another great home fertilizer, very high in nitrogen, with good levels of phosphorous and potassium, and a range of micronutrients. I often think of comfrey as "land kelp", as it has such a rich and useful profile. It is also very easy to grow, and does not get browsed heavily by deer.
To make a comfrey foliar or liquid fertilizer, fill a 5 gallon plastic bucket to the brim, stuffing as much of the plant into the bucket as you can. Then put the lid on it, nice and tight. Put it in the shade, and leave if for a month or so. When you open it up, keep your head back (don't peer in with your head right over the bucket...you'll stagger back!)
Wearing rubber gloves, pull out the decayed plant material, then decant the black juice into a storage bucket. It will have a strong ammonia smell, which means high nitrogen. I filter this fluid for spray equipment, and add 1-2 ounces per gallon. Stores quite a while if you keep it sealed. You can make a spray that has added iron by making nettles 20% of the bucket contents.