by Callie

The Importance of Homemade Fertilizer

It’s pretty convenient to rip open a bag, pop the top on a sprinkle canister – and deliver a perfectly measured dose of plant nutrition in the garden. Things will soon drastically change. You, the every gardener, flowers or backyard veggie patch, even container growers, might want to discover how to make your own fertilizer. Sure, organic gardeners have long dabbled in concocting their own sources of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium – but they’ve always had something to fall back on if need be. Something that might be either impossible, or one day give you sticker shock, and according to a paper published in the Journal of Science in early May, this might not be so far in the future. Worse still, these leading soil scientists ascertain that domesticated soil has topped out at it’s ability to feed us. We can’t continue to use it, to exploit it, the way humanity has for centuries, but most explicitly – since the invention of commercially made nitrogen and motorized farm equipment.

Things Ain’t Lookin’ Good

In short, if we don’t return to organic fertilization methods, man will starve to death. It’s got nothing to do with increasing the amount of bushels per acre farmland can produce, because those practices and the agricultural inputs that make it all possible, are aiding and abetting the entire problem. So is harvesting the crop and it’s by-products for further financial gain. Without returning what the soil produces to the soil, it’s strength is depleted, and no amount of man-made fertilizer is going to fix the problem… a situation which is also intensifying climate change.

To quote Evan Folds, soil nutrient and microorganism expert from Progressive Gardens and Progressive Farms, who has a wealth of knowledge to share, he had the following to say in an article that appeared in recent print editions of Garden Culture Magazine:

“… soil very well may be the most important substance on Earth.

Soil creates and sustains all of life. Soil allows farming, the act of rebellion that catalyzed human specialization from hunting and gathering to society at large, and that started the human experiment more than 10,000 years ago.

We’ve come a long way since then, and with good reason, as there are many more mouths to feed with the human population growing exponentially in modern times. But we are currently using more topsoil than we are creating, and we are collectively utilizing soil for all of the wrong reasons.

Soil is to be respected, not used as a sponge; even certified organic practices can result in tremendous damage and pollution to the land. Modern farming has become more a creature of synthetic profit than a source of nourishment for people. USDA data shows food losing nutrient density, and we are experiencing a global degenerative, and auto-immune epidemic. But the good news is that we can do something about it.”  ~~  from Making Your Own Soil Mix: UK 7 & UK 5, Spring 2015 Issue

Now, just a few months later, comes the publishing of this paper in the journal Science, “Soil and human security in the 21st century,” reiterates and expounds upon this very idea. We have all come to disrespect the soil. Some greatly, others not so much, but we’ve been conditioned to do so for generations, and according to the marketing plans of agrichemical companies who grew into global corporate giants on the shoulders of the demand for fast, cheap, and easy nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium for farms and gardens everywhere.

“Ever since humans developed agriculture, we’ve been transforming the planet and throwing the soil’s nutrient cycle out of balance, because the changes happen slowly, often taking two to three generations to be noticed, people are not cognizant of the geological transformation taking place.” ~~ lead author, Ronald Amundson, a professor of environmental science, policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley. “

People take much better care of their bodies’ skin than they do the skin of the planet that sustains them, which is what soil is, and it’s alive, or it was, before the industrial revolution turned farming and food into a factory. While agriculture is largely to blame for turning fertile soil into bad soil over huge swathes of land worldwide, home gardeners follow in their footsteps, mimicking many farming practices yard-wide. Now multiply that by every well-maintained residential property in North America, and add in all the others on the rest of the continents of Earth.

And so, the realities of replenishing what you use have come to haunt a global population. As this research paper published on May 7th in Science suggests, its time to start recycling local sources of fertilizer, which only gives weight to the beliefs of organic gardening or farming. It’s especially true of phosphorous, because the resources are dwindling. The United States has only 2% of the global demand for phosphorous, which is mined natural resources of a particular rock, and the available deposits will be completely depleted in 20 years. There isn’t an endless supply of it in other places, which will continue to drive the cost up, perhaps lead to political issues, even war… over a non-renewable resource that farming and gardening will eventually exhaust.

And Then What?

Time to learn how to create your own natural fertilizers and soil inputs people. Don’t wait until its too late. Best to become skilled and knowledgeable before that day. Oh, you get your phosphorous from bat guano? Do you really think there’s enough of that to provide global agriculture for the mainstream food market, and still be available for your small veggie patch? Look into the wonders of chicken poo – it’s a locally available source of phosphorous. As long as chicken is sold for meat, and eggs are a grocery staple, we will have plenty of chicken manure at hand. Of course, you could always raise your own meat and eggs, and recycle your own resources.

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Only strangers knock on the door at Callie's house. People who know her don't bother if the sun is shining - they know to look in the garden.