.The world is running out of synthetic fertiliser. In this post we will break down ten hacks to make natural fertiliser fast for your food forest or garden.
The perfect storm has been brewing for a while now. Government lockdowns, disruptive supply chains, runaway inflation and war have conspired to this point where farmers are unable to get their hands on fertiliser.
Farming on an industrial scale has an over dependency on synthetic fertilisers to produce crops. Over time, the soil has been depleted of life and much like a crack addict needs more crack to get the same high, big ag farms need more and more fertiliser to produce thee same crops.
50,000 – 100
Over the last seventy years the food produced by big ag has lost more that fifty percent of its nutritional value and nearly all its taste. If that wasn’t bad enough, of the 50,000 edible plants available on earth, we now live off less than one hundred.
Growing your own food now is a necessity, if not an emergency. But how do you grow nutritious and delicious food without fertiliser?
Humanity has grown all its food organically since it decided to live in small communities thousands of years ago. It was only in the last hundred years or so when the social engineers started to build mega cities and buy up all the farms to feed the populous to work their machines.
90% of foods in grocery stores didn’t even exist 90 years ago… and neither did 90% of the diseases!
Mono crops are not found anywhere in the nature. Earth’s natural state is a poly culture. Artificial fertilisers were created by the barons of the oil industry to increase their profits and produce the food for the people toiling for them in the cities. That methods of big ag farming are not sustainable, or profitable and we are now seeing the unravelling of the system by design.
So now we must be more self-sufficient, the government are not coming to help us. If we look back throughout history, you’ll see they only make things worse.
Fortunately, as our ancestors before us have shown, we can grow all our own food and thrive. Using permaculture principals, we can even increase abundance and diversity while leaving more meaningful lives and eating healthier food or preventative medicine as I call it.
The secret to growing nutritious food is by building soil full of microbial life, the total opposite of what big ag does. We don’t have to rely on herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides. Using natural fertilisers we can regenerate the soil and grow diverse crops of many colours, exquisite tastes and textures all packed full of nutrition.
We can mimic nature and speed up the process by employing safe and natural fertilisers. Here’s the top 9 we use on the farm and one extra for good measure. The key take-away is to use what you have available.
Chop and Drop
Probably the easiest way to feed the soil microbes and in turn your trees is to cover the ground in-situ by chopping down branches and leaves from your plants. Nature does this of course by itself. Look at any forest of jungle floor and you will see it’s covered in tree debris.
We simply chop the branches and drop in place to speed up natures tried and true strategy for feeding the forest floor.
Compost teas are a great way to get microbial life and nutrition to the root of your plants fast. Here are two methods of making compost tea. One requires power, the other doesn’t.
Anaerobic Compost Tea
Take a large barrel and half fill with rain or pond water. Try to avoid tap water. You don’t know what the government have added to it. Take all the ‘weeds’ (the more diverse the better) and fresh leaves you have lying around and add them to the barrel of water. Keep adding water and green ‘waste’ until the barrel is full. Give the contents a good stir with a big stick.
Stir every day over two weeks.
To use the tea, you’ll need a mesh to strain the water and capture any seeds, a bucket and watering can.
The tea can be diluted 2-1 with fresh rainwater and poured onto your plants for a refreshing brew.
Clean the barrel out well and make another batch. Rinse and repeat.
Aerobic Compost Tea
To make aerobic compost tea you’ll have to make a simple set up like this and buy a small pond pump to blow air through the system.
The beauty of aerobic compost tea is it can be made and applied in 24-48 hours and has more bacterial life in it due to the oxygen levels when compared to anaerobic compost teas.
In my brew I use amino acids, kelp, cow or chicken manure and sugarcane molasses.
This tea can be sprayed onto your plants leaves or poured around their roots.
Adding biochar to your garden soil without charging it first can actually deplete your plants of nutrients. To charge your biochar simple pour it into a barrel and cover it in compost tea. Leave it standing for a day and then add to your garden.
The porous surface of the biochar will now be inhabited by microbes and will increase your soil fertility for years to come.
Chicken poop is high in nitrogen so do not spread it around your veggies or saplings.
Instead, add a scoop to a bucket and fill with rain or pond water. Give it a stir and leave overnight. You can now dilute 10-1 with more water and pour around your veggie roots for an instant hit your plants will love.
We have a rabbit and feed it on grass, weeds and anything and everything from the garden. In return, all the waste he/she generates gets added to the raised beds. The circular economy in perfect synchronicity. Everyone is a winner.
Gotta pee? Don’t lose it, use it on the garden. Leave it in a bottle for a week and then dilute with rain or pond water at a 10-1 ratio. It’s a good nitrogen shot for those yellowing leaves.
For mature trees, just pee on them when no one is watching. Hanging out is one of life’s simple pleasures in the great outdoors!
We don’t have a compost toilet, but if we did, we would use humanure on the fruit trees. If you have a compost toilet, you’ll be acquainted with the lengthy process of making safe humanure. Here’s a link to a video explaining how to make a compost toilet.
Grass clippings make for a great high nitrogen fertiliser. After cutting the crass with a lawn mower, scythe or weed-whacker simply rake the clippings up around the base of your trees remembering to leave breathing space around the trunk.
Grass clipping when piled up several inches high also double up as a great mulch that keeps the plants roots cool, feeds the microbes in the soil, stop weeds from growing up and prevent water loss through evaporation.
There is no waste in a permaculture garden. Everything can be composted and used as a fertiliser. There are many ways to build a compost heap. Some require more time than others before using, and I will link to a couple here and here.
The most basic way to make a good compost is to think in layers of browns (leaves and cardboard), greens (grass clippings, vegetables, weeds) and manure (cow, goat, and chicken etc.) The microbes in the manure help to speed up decomposing process.
Layer in each element like a cake, water well ( pee on it) and cover. Within a few months, depending how hot it is where you are, you’ll have a pile of compost full of life you can add to your garden beds.
Cocoa pods, crushed eggshells, banana skins, dead animals (fish, toads, snakes, and chickens etc.) can all be added to your compost to turbo charge it with extra nutrients and minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Worm castings are another excellent, maybe the best fertiliser for your garden. Create your own vermiculture or buy the castings by the bag.
Fertilising Nature’s Way
There are many ways to make fertilisers fast for your garden so don’t fret about the rising prices or even if your retailer runs out. Plants have been growing successfully long before the invention and application of synthetic fertilisers. You will be just fine without them. If not better!
Using more natural and organic methods to build healthy soil, within a season or two you’ll start to notice your food tastes better and it will have more nutritional value.
What is your favourite method of making fertiliser for your garden? Share your methods in the comments below so we all grow better together.
10 Hacks to Make Fertiliser for Your Garden Fast