11
April 1, 2008

“LOOK MA, NO FERTILIZERS!”

Posted by Anais Dervaes

embok-1.jpg
embok-2.jpg Justin mixes up a bulk batch of EM Bokashi

This was Justin's suggestion for the title of this post and I thought it was pretty cute.

Early Sunday morning, when it was still overcasts and drizzling, Justin made up another batch of EM & Bokashi. Bokashi is EM mixed with bran and molasses and allowed to ferment. I really like when he makes up a batch, the yard smells so sweet -- like someone's baking. Of course mixing bran and molasses you would expect such a pleasant smell. After a few weeks, this recent batch of fermented EM Bokashi mixture will be applied it directly to the soil.

Justin is quite proud that we've gone 1 year without applying any NPK fertilizers on our small scale urban garden. And to think that we are trying to almost double our poundage without any NPK application - are we crazy? Well, I would think so, but Farmer D and Farmer J have other growing methods in mind.

Farmer J is passionate about growing food and takes the job seriously. For seven years now he has kept daily records of the growing ons in the garden. If I ever can decipher his scribble should be quite a read. There's entries about what was planted, where, the weather, etc, etc.

Farmer Justin is also in charge of watering and applying helpful soil amendments in the garden. Applications which include compost, EM and rock dust. Every Friday Justin mixes up an application of liquid EM and sprays it over the entire yard/garden and animal enclosure.

NO NPK

"Quite simply, without phosphorus we cannot produce food," says Dana Cordell of the Institute of Sustainable Futures, based in Sydney.

Prices Climb as Fertiliser Famine Looms

Warming of World Phosphate Shortage

World Phosphorus Shortage via Energy Bulletin

Phosphorus is the "P" in NPK. So with the recent news wires and anniversary of our commitment to be NPK free this fertiziler crisis shows that we are plodding along on the right path. There are, indeed, alternative, more natural growing methods to growing our own food.

Let's get growing!

:: Resources ::

On a Fad Diet of Rock Dust, How the Garden Does Grow

Remineralize The Earth

A Guide to EM (Effective Micro-organisms)

A Guide to EM Bokashi Composting

EM & Bokashi Products

:: Field Hand Appreciation :: GM $10


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11 Comments: "“LOOK MA, NO FERTILIZERS!”" »

  1. Your "A Guide to EM Bokashi Composting" link is broken.
    You accidentally typed htto instead of http.

  2. how does composting fit into the grand scheme of soil ammendment? Does this replace compost? Do you apply the Bokashi on whatever schedule you would fertilize or does it go into the soil at planting time like I usually do with compost?

  3. Human urine used as phosphates in Sweden(Warning of World Phosphate Shortage, The Aulstralian). I heard this was used in China as well, but doesn't seem very healthy. Humanure might address this as well, albeit as a last resort.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanure

  4. I must admit to being a bit confused about your use of the term "NPK fertilizer" - I presume by that you are referring to artificially manufactured fertilizers? All fertilizers, including those we consider "natural" such as animal manure and compost, contain varying concentrations of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) (amongst other things), which is what makes the plants grow. So it seems to me that wanting to be "NPK free" is a bit odd?

  5. Kory

    Thanks for your question. Bokashi doesn't replace composting. We just use a variety of composting techniques. Not saying one is better than the other, but a combination of different methods and applications doesn't hurt.

    We use worms and a variety of compost bins to break down organic matter. Bokashi is just a method of fermenting organic matter. Breaking it down faster than normal composting methods.

    We apply Bokashi both to the soil and compost whenever we can.

  6. Hello David

    Thanks for the link.

    What are folks thoughts on using urine?

    Care to comment, let's open this topic up to some discussion. I bet you there are some readers out there that do apply urine to their compost piles!

  7. Hi Anais,
    Actually, I've thought about using urine fertilizer for quite awhile now. There really are no health reasons not to. My main concern is not to overdo the nitrogen so my plants grow too much foliage and not enough fruit. I find it ludicrous that we Americans mix valuable sources of fertility with drinkable water and flush it all away - it then becomes a problem to deal with as well as a "waste" in the true sense of the word.

    I know I am not like many people: I'm a veterinarian and a mom - I'm totally used to earthy body things. I also own a copy of the Humanure Handbook, and if I had my place in the country I'd be composting my family's humanure and using this resource. (By the way, the book says that it's best to keep the liquid and solids together.) But I live in town - it's not feasible. Separating urine now and then will be easy.

    Last year, when we had minnows left after a fishing trip, I let them live in one of my 50 gallon rainbarrels, and used this water for irrigating container grown edibles. WOW what a difference the fish waste made - my container yields were amazing. (Also, as they died, the minnows were fed to my chickens, who relished them!) This year I plan to repeat this experiment, and want to try diluted human urine as well.

    I've never been much of user of concentrated fertilizer, instead depending heavily on composted kitchen scraps, chicken manure and grass clippings. I think this season I will only use the more concentrated sources (fish water, urine water) on container plants and ornamentals regularly, and the main veg beds only a few times per season. Small changes...

    thanks for bringing this up Anais!

  8. the NPK of urine is something like 10 - 1 - 3 ... balancing it with a little molasses can round it out for those that are concerned about extra nitrogen....

    last time i looked into it, it has about the same npk as miracle grow reg. plant fud.

    on a side note... the minerals and what not are more available in urine,

    also several plant hormones ... like Indole acetic acid ... that you are probably familiar with in artificial formulations as napthyl acetic acid (found in superthrive)..... were first isolated from human urine in the 1960's... i don't remember if we produce them as by products or if they simply pass through our diet as a result of eating plant materials, but either way its a great source of hormones and additional b vitamins and trace elements.

  9. oh... also for some reason our natural testosterone and estrogen seem to mess with things like aphids and sucking insects.... they generally leave my pee fertilized plants alone :)

  10. Hello!
    interesting post, thanks. One question for you: I grow seed, so phosphorus is a pretty major concern for me. How do you ensure you are providing enough phosphorus without using any outside inputs to fertilise?
    I use bone meal at the moment to take care of phosphorus needs, but as a slaughterhouse by-product I wish I could do without. However I'm not yet aware of another reliable source of P in the N-P-K. Any ideas?
    Do you have your soils tested to keep track of fertility, or do you just observe your plants?
    Thanks,
    Robin

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