Homemade organic fertilizers

Hey everyone just trying to see if anyone else makes their own fertilizers and what you guys/gals use to make it. Whether it be for veg or flower.

I recently made my own in a 30 gallon container with a pitchfork full of year old chicken clean out and a pitchfork full of partially decomposed compost, seems to be a great nitrogen source when used @ the rate of 2 cups per 5 gallons of water.

Left- before Right- 3 days after feeding


Very cool! Plants look like they enjoy it too. It’d be neat to see how your fertilizer tests for NPK.

Closest I come to my own fertilizer is the castings from my worm bin. Brenna couple years with it and I haven’t seen any trouble from my castings. I mostly consider it a source of beneficial microbes, with the secondary benefit of some nutrients and organic matter.

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Worm castings are loaded with micro-organiisms that digest minerals and make them available as nutrients for the earthworms and for plants.

Worm castings are NOT fertilizer. Worm castings do NOT have any N-P-K value of their own. But they can help to release the N-P-K already hidden in soil.

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I have to respectfully disagree, worm castings do have nutrients in them. Not a lot, but enough. Like any compost, it is a breakdown of organic materials and the nutrients that make up the organic material remains in the castings, short of what’s used by the worms to grow and reproduce. I believe some people have had trouble with too much worms castings in their soil mixes leading to excess nitrogen for the plants.

Most commercial sources have an NPK value on their packaging, often only showing nitrogen (2-0-0 for example).

Below is a lab analysis of worm casings sold by Black Swallow, a retailer in Ontario close to me. It shows macro and micro nutrients.

However, I don’t add castings for the small amount of nutrients. I add them for the microbial life.


That’s awesome, I think I can actually get a water test done but I’m not sure if nutrients would be included in the report ?? Actually in my permanent regenerative living soil beds I added 30 red worms each and I find them all the time, treating my beds like a worm bin and feeding the soil/worms.


Those beds must grow some beasts! Looking good growmie. Worms do so well in the soil. The way you have the beds raised probably helps keeps the red wrigglers in the bed, if I remember right they don’t tend to go too deep into soil.

I heard someone on a podcast recently saying he had so many worms in his indoor beds, he has to REMOVE castings from the top of the soil. What a great problem to have!

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This will be my first year with the beds, last year I had holes directly beneath each bed that probably only held 1.5 cubic foot a piece, about 4.6 cubic feet of homemade soil in each bed coots 3 part method, perlite + horse pasture dirt + peat moss. Cover crop of buckwheat and aslike clover and finely chopped straw for mulch. Plants were started April 6th so I’m thinking I’m going to have some massive trees this year :joy:


Last year without beds


I want chickens so bad, but the wife says no. More for the poop than the eggs and meat. I am so jealous. I would not use any off site manures or compost blends anymore due to herbacide contamination. It’s used to make hay fields weed free. Unfortunately that stays active in the manure for years.

I have not bought an amendment since I started using char. It seems to really hold onto nutrients as advertised. This will be my 7th year sans any purchased amendments. I have no problem with clean reliable inputs, except that they come at a premium cost. I much prefer to collect table scraps, leaves, and scrap wood; basically any yard waste at all. I got a 15hp chipper and chip it all up. Leaves are the almighty worm magnet. If you build soil with leaves, the worms will come. I like you, find red wigglers in my beds along with earth worms.

I am also a HUGE fan of anaerobic stinky weed tea. I stuff buckets full of dandilions and Himalayan black berries, jap knot weed, morning glory, English ivy, and holly invasive seedlings. Then I flood it with creek water, cap it with a bladder full of urine before the lid, and leave it out back in the sun for 3-4 weeks. It breaks down to a soupy stinky syrupy goo. Full of all the nutrients that those fast growing weeds stripped out of the soil. Especially since deep roots on all these weeds are pulling up deep nutrients ( like comfrey). I have been doing this for a decade and LOVE the results. It’s sooo rich. If I put any of these weeds in any of my other compost situations, they sprout and come back with a mother effing vengeance. Stinky weed anaerobic tea is the end match for the invasive pestilence plants.

So with that, I only soil build on the off season. Once I plant my veggies and cannabis, I rarely do anything but water. But in the fallow season I add local green amendments and table scraps by the wheel burrow load. Leaves to the waist (thank you neoghbors) and all the clean cardboard I can find to keep the leaves capped and not blowing away in a storm. Wet cardboard is a miracle. The saprophytic fungi devour it and then plow thru the leaves.

Also, love the organic coffee stand up the road. I leave a clean lidded bucket and a bag of weed as grease for a favor. It fills up a couple times a week and they call me to swap it out. Win, win for all and I usually get a good karma free coffee out of it. But the grounds are garden magic, best deployed in the fallow season. It makes a poor active growing top dress due to its hydrophobic tendencies.

As soon as the bed has settled down and spring approaches, I load it back up w my favorite cover crop, strawberries. Save the runners all winter in the cool garage by placing them in a paper bag. They need no further attention till spring left to half dry cool and dormant. I can usually store 500 runner starts in 1 paper grocery store bag. Also, any non Cana or non veggie beds I put strawberries in every spot of bare earth. That way I always have plenty of established plants for runners to repopulate the edible beds. All of last years get turned into green manure under the leaves, cardboard, coffee grounds and table scraps. And the occasional flood of stinky weed tea.

Even table scraps ran thru one of my 3 compost tumbler don’t get into the beds during the grow season. I store it in empty 15 gallon grow bags until the fallow season. Rich compost top dressed always seems to attract pests, even if it were store bought. Mammals, mites, thrips, aphids; they all seem to smell the rich top dressed soil. Knock on wood, but this one thing has reduced pest for me like 99% over the 18 springs I have grown cannabis and veggies at this site. Let it cook down in the beds in the off season, and depend on the char to act as a nutrient battery and hotel for microbes.

Nothing makes me prouder than an empty county yard waste bin every week. And every day I wake up I say to myself as I am brewing coffee, “Always be making soil, it the soul of my garden tomorrow.”

Hey @ADK_Guerrila, love your topics and content. Always a good read. :open_book:

OMG, never toss any bones. Steaks, pork chops, rotisserie chickens, chicken wings, weed stuffed whole turkeys, etc. They belong in the garden as slow release calcium. I stick them in around plant stems all year like fertilizer sticks. They take a few years to slowly break down. Also, in the winter I add them to my wood stove before damping down at bedtime and they turn to dust the next morning. Instant calcium. So both quick calcium burned out added to the beds w/ char, and slow release from summer steak bones and chicken wings. Throwing them into the tumbler works well too if I am too busy to sink them into the soil vertically around the plants. I firmly believe living soil breaks down bones much faster than chemical fertilizer beds.


May need the chainsaw. Ha

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Do you buy your char or could I just make my own in my fire pit outdoors, doing everything I can in order to be self sustained and in the process teaching my kids to grow a seed vegetable that is and also to hunt and fish. Important lessons I was taught.

You may be able to talk the wife into it just remind her they take care of ticks and other creepy crawlers around the yard :man_shrugging:t2: I’m definitely going to use all of the info you just gave me haha first week of October I’ll load up every bed with leaves and cardboard for winter along with bones !! My wife thinks I’m going off the deep end I think with all my natural remedies for the garden :joy:
I laid down some cardboard to try and collect some native fungi and I think I’m about ready to move them over.

Little red bellied ring neck snake :snake:

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Unfortunately I have a profession that doesn’t give you the feeling like you actually accomplished anything so I have to keep my focus and to me that’s the garden and the woods lol

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I consider my work living art. I do custom aquarium installs In homes and offices. And the real gold is the follow up maintenance that goes on forever. People cut back during the mortgage bubble on travel, yet they all seemed to want fish tanks to bring the tropics home. It has become quite lucrative, especially offices. One spec of algae on the panel at a dentist or restaurant and people think they are not clean. Clients always pay for the premium weekly service package. Most of my residential clients love to smoke so it is always as much of a social get together as a work job.

You peaked my curiosity, what job feels like you are pissing into the wind?

This is a cut and paste from some of my many char posts over the years…

I love to sing :speaking_head: char char char from the hilltops to the valleys. But most people think I am crazy. Terra pretta was where I first read about it in the Amazon. By a fish collector in the 90s though, not a gardener. Ha.

Terra pretta, the original Mayan made biochar. It’s 1000-3000 years old and that soil is still to this day considered one of the best on earth. Mind you all the while sitting inside a rain soaked nutrient desert (aka Amazon basin). Every single atom of nutrients is recycled in that ecosystem. It’s the classic example of law of minimum. Anyway it will blow your mind.

Char is a complete waste of time if you don’t reuse your soil.:point_left:
It is most effective in living soil. If you turn and burn the soil every run char is NOT for you practically or $$.

Char is great. It improves drainage like perlite, yet the pores (and microbes) in the char hold onto moisture. Most importantly it is a microbe sink. Like a battery. It keeps nutrients from running off by holding them in the soil. Microbes love it. It is like a swanky microbe hotel in the soil. They reside in the pore gaps close to all the nutrients. The char in your can filter is all you need if you dont have a place to burn or want to buy it. Commercial char is not the cheapest bag at the grow shop. Don’t chuck that filter carbon. It is some of the most porous char on earth. When your filter is spent all that activated charcoal makes a great biochar source. When I turn under freshly loaded up biochar, then check it in 2 weeks, the mycelium just entombs it. It’s hyphae just grow between the pores. It becomes a microbe transit hub for mycelium to catch the train. Or maybe a mycoboost hotel.

Where I am going is, long term, the char holds the nutrients: micros, macros, carbon (C0 & C02), amino & lipid chains. I find now days I worry less about weekly feed schedule routine. And more about generally loading up my char batteries in the winter. I would go into it, but that’s too long a tangent for your thread. But once things are growing I don’t adjust much unless the need arises. Sit back and watch things grow so to speak. My beds never gave me this luxury until I amended with the char. Pinch me type of difference.

I know my outdoor seasonal approach does not straight up work for an indoor set up. But I bet if one did a side by side with chared up reused super soil VS a scheduled feed no char sister clone grow off, you would roll with the char after.

Buying char depends on your point of view. It is so easy to make yourself in a wood stove or campfire. Burning wood on a hot summer day in an industrial zone for a few cups of char. Then shipping it to an amazon warehouse on a truck; then to your home. Pretty shitty way to make it. I make it with a high efficiency wood stove with pile of wood harvested within a few miles of my home. Rather than shipped. That not always practical but good if you can do it yourself. The char in your can filter is all you need if you dont have a place to burn. Campfires, pour water on the marshmallow coals. Don’t let it burn out to ash. You want the popcorn like squishy stuff. Not the harder brickets. Those hard ones will huegel down, but not real char.

**Most important never put raw char on plants.**You have to load it first. Otherwise it will load itself by robbing the garden of it nutrients. No joke. They’re a lot of ways, but I mix it with compost tumbler scoop, then float it in piss in a bucket. Forget about it for 2-3 weeks. Good to go. Best to add it for the soil mix. It’s not as good as a top dress. You want it homogenized like you would perlite. I would suggest 1/2 cup per gallon of media in a pot.

I have even read about towable retort ovens (pyrolysis, no oxygen present) that the syngas that is released from the wood can be captured, stored and used into tanks. Virtually zero emissions besides heat energy. The us forest service uses these regularly to char up pine beetle dead forests. The studies in Yellowstone show more moisture in the soil, more nutrients, more plant and animal species diversity after application of char. Rather than it becoming co2 and methane as it rots (thank you microbes).

Also scrap annuals crops like grass, corn, and sugarcane (usually open burns) and invasive weeds like kudzu, blackberries, j knotweed make excellent char. They can even char grassy manures.

Chemical fertilizers on crop land can be reduced. Think (trucks, sprayers, planes,) how much less co2 that would make from a renewable resource? With char batteries mixed in.

I even read here in Washington state they use it around holding lots and slaughter yards for cattle. To prevent nutrient runoff and waterway eutrophication. Char is piled up to make a nutrient sink. Then spread it on the crops when it’s loaded up. Brilliant. I also read they are mixing it into the feed to prevent methane farts from cattle at the source. No shit.

Now burning down the redwoods to make char for the pot growers is not good. But charing up scrap grass and down or dead trees just makes sense. Sorry if I got passionate about this one.


That’s awesome I’ll have to watch some videos or get some pictures for good char, I burn all the white birch from my property right in my fire pit so I should be able to compile quite a bit over the summer, then I’ll need a better example of how to activate before I add to the soil this fall

I love your passion for the char!!! I have finally decided to go completely organic and use living soil so will be adding some char to my soil. Using Build-a-Soil 3.0 in a 5 gallon SIP. How much char would you use in something like this???

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5 to 10 percent if in a pot. No more than two cups per gallon of soil mix. Diminishing returns and too wet of a mix if you over do the char % in a pot.

Outdoor my soil is always being used to fill pots for fruit tree starts and perennial pollinator plant cuttings. So I have a lot of churn. Also, in the off season I add so much organic matter it’s hard to measure at 10%. So what I mean is out door you can fudge it up a bit if you are in beds open to the ground or in holes. It will mix out. Worms, rain, decomp, beetles, new roots pushing, etc.

Don’t top dress char. Always mix it in. It’s least effective on the surface. I like mine about the size of popped popcorn chunks.


Awesome!!! Thank you for the info!!!

Bio-char in the making!!! 3rd time I’ve filled up the fire pit this evening, going to spray it off with the hose before bed and harvest in the AM.


@noddykitty1 operation bio-char