Why I Never Fertilize My Vegetable Garden and Get Better Results without it

Why I Never Fertilize My Vegetable Garden and Get Better Results without it

Alright! This is John Kohler with growingyourgreens.com.
Today we have another exciting episode for you coming at you from your front yard garden.
And what we’re going to do today is give you guys my view on fertilizers. So many of
you guys know that, you know John, if you plant a garden, you got to plant your plants,
then you got to put the fertilizers. You know, that blue stuff or that stuff that comes in
a bottle of 10-10-10, 16-16-16. I mean, whatever the three numbers on there, you know, you’re
led to believe that you need these fertilizers to make your land fertile. And in my opinion,
nothing could be further from the truth than the whole fertilizer thing that you got to
buy these fertilizers. You know, what I strive to do is to model nature. Think about it,
in nature, in the forest, there’s no pixies, tinker bells, spreading 10-10-10 fertilizer,
right? So I try to look at how does the forest work? What does the forest do to make fertile
soil is to have these huge trees that are hundreds of years old and have all the shrubbery
and ground covered at the base of the forest, right? They don’t use fertilizers, what
they use is naturally decayed plant products and some manure-based products that are created
locally. In the forest, the trees drop their leaves, they fall over, all the wood gets
composted back down in the soil to rebuild the soil, which will continue the cycle. In
your front yard, you might not have a cycle, because it might be barren when they built
your house. There lived nothing but grass. That’s not a complete system anymore. We’ve
kind of upset the system. So what we want to get back to is more of that forest model.
Now I don’t expect you to create a forest in your front yard or whatever to have constant
nutrition. What I strive to do in a small residential space is to bring in the nutrients
in the most natural way to build the fertility and build my soil that I could sustain all
the plant life that I’m growing in there. And I have been doing this for many years
now. What I like to call this and what it’s called actually is called biologic farming
or biologic gardening, where I’m using the nutrients already existing in the soil, in
the compost, and putting in bacteria and fungi to break them down and make them plant available.
And as you can see here, we got some cool winter greens growing. It’s absolutely delicious.
I’ve been eating these guys every day for the last couple nights for my dinner meal
whether I’m blending them up, eating them in a salad, or juicing them. And let me tell
you, they are delicious. So what we’re going to do today is we’re going to go on a little
field trip and I’m going to go pick up my top soil builder and then we’re going to
come back and actually fill up my front raise bed that were getting ready for the spring
planting season. Because after every year it dips down and a big question I get, John,
what do I do after every year? My garden, the soil always dips down. Well, we want to
add back what we’ve taken out and add nutrition back to the soil so your plants in the upcoming
season could have the highest probability of success by having the nutrients already
contained within the soil that it may need to thrive. So next, we’re going to show
you my favorite soil builder. Now we’re at Sonoma compost and Sonoma compost
is where the municipal green waste, which is yard, clippings, and food scraps go into
a green bin for everybody in the county. And then they come to the facility that’s in
an eye’s view there. They take all the yard waste and food scraps and compost this data
and sell the compost at affordable prices back to people and farmers to improve their
land, to be able to grow a vegetable garden or whatever else you want to do with the compost.
And the compost, to me, is the number 1 soil builder. Why? Basically it’s just decayed
plant matter. The decayed plant matter gets basically broken down and concentrated into
super nutrition for your plants, edibles, trees, in your garden. What we’re going
to do is we’re going to go inside the office and we’re going to get compost in a large
half cubic yard or full yard, probably a full yard today. It’s the most affordable to
buy it in a cubic yard or a half yard. And I like that in Sonoma compost, if you’re
buying a half yard, they charge you half of the full yard price. Many of the places I
visit around the country, unfortunately, if you’re buying a half yard, they would charge
you 80 percent of the full yard price, which I think is a rip off. So I’m glad that they’re
keeping it real here. Now if you don’t have a truck or some other kind of vehicle to haul
the compost in, that’s all right, you can still come here and save a ton of money here
compared to the big box stores by buying, you know, like a yard of compost in a bag.
So they have a whole bunch of different bagged products over there, with all the different
styles of compost. What we’re going to do next is actually show you guys some of the
different composts they have and the one that I would recommend to you if you do come to
Sonoma compost to get that number 1 soil builder. So as you guys can see, behind me here is
all the piles of compost and this is the side of the “You Bags” side. They also have
a side where they get the loader and load it into your truck for you. This is where
you could actually come and just bag it up by the bag. If you do want to purchase it
by the bag, I always encourage you guys to purchase it by the yard or the half yard,
much less money. Anyways, they got a whole bunch of different piles here. You might be
thinking, John if I get there, what pile do I get from? They got the terra lite; they
got the standard Sonoma compost; they got the high test; they got the mallard plus.
Well let me tell you, I’m going to share with you guys what worked for me. Maybe different
in your situation, but what I did was, I built my raise beds. They are empty. I bought originally
55 cubic yards and I had to get the 18 wheeler semi-truck. I mean, if you look back at my
past videos, you’ll see a video where it’s actually dumping it off, and then, me playing
on the compost. There was a big pile in front of the house before I shoveled it into all
the different raise beds. And the one I used is the mallard plus. That’s the one I planted
in straight, directly. Now for many of you guys, I don’t necessarily recommend going
to your local place that sells compost, buying compost and planting it in directly. Compost
quality could vary widely and I’m confident you could plant directly in the mallard plus,
which is what I’ve done. And then recently, within the last few years, they introduced
a biodynamic compost. I started experimenting with that and I would get straight loads of
the biodynamic and then plant in that and I would notice that it didn’t quite work
as well for me and my situation as the mallard plus. So then what I came to, I came to mix
a half mallard plus with a half biodynamic hi-test together, making a nice mixture, mix
it up together, and actually that was the best of them all. So what I recommend for
you is to mix half biodynamic hi-test and half mallard plus. So if you’re getting
1 yard, get a half yard of the mallard plus, half yard of the biodynamic hi-test, and blend
it yourself. They won’t do any blending for you here. And if you’re only going to
get one, I’d definitely say go for the mallard plus. I like that one more than the biodynamic
hi-test if I was just to use one and only one, only. The next thing we’re going to
do is actually, they’re coming around with the dumper here and we’re going to dump
the compost on the big, blue tarp and actually we’re going to hand load it into feed sack
bags, maybe like one to two cubic feet into a feed sack bag so we can easily lift, carry
them up and put them into the SUV because many people do not have a truck. And I want
you guys be able to get the compost for the cheapest price, because once again, it’s
easier to buy it by the yard and less expensive by the yard than by the bag. So we’re going
to buy it by the yard, have them dump it on a blue tarp, and bag it up and put it in the
vehicle to take it home and enrich my garden. All right, here’s the compost getting dumped
onto our tarp. We’re going to load that up into bags and put it in the back of the
SUV. So I’m bagging up the last bit of this compost. We’ve bagged up and we got it in
the SUV there, and I want to encourage you guys not to overload your vehicle if you have
a standard vehicle like a Volkswagen which I’ve used in the past. I’d only get a
half yard. This compost can weigh down your car even if it is in a one cubic yard sack
so each bag is light, but all of them together is a lot heavier. Today in the SUV we’re
getting about one yard total and luckily today this stuff is fairly light because it’s
been quite dry. So a half yard is what I’ve done in the past in a standard vehicle and
a full yard in a fairly heavy-duty SUV. Basically we’re just taking the feed sack bags and
we got a little 5 gallon bucket with the bottom out of it. And we put that into the bag so
the bag doesn’t collapse. And we just scoop it in there and we scoop probably about fifteen
scoops and then it’s full enough. Then we tie it up and throw it in the SUV and we’re
going to take it home. So as you guys can see, we’ve got the SUV
fully loaded. One thing I recommend is bringing a tarp and we place that on the floor of the
SUV and we’re just going to pull that up so it makes a little pan so all the dirt doesn’t
get everywhere in the car. Finally close it up. Ah. Nice warm day. You got to love the
California 70 degree weather. You guys are probably still freezing where you’re at.
I’m sorry. So now we’re going to go ahead and head back. We’re going to unload the
compost, my number 1 soil builder. But I’m also going to share with you guys some other
soil builders that I believe you should be adding to your garden for the excellent growing
results. So now we’re going to share with you guys
some more soil builders that I’m adding to my garden. The majority what I’m adding
is the compost and that is the bacterial based compost made in a hot pile. Another thing
I often like to add and added actually last season that I don’t have present time is
the fungal dominated compost. So the compost derived from wood chips, and it carves in
source (10:14) at low temperatures. Both these combine to give your bacterial and fungus
in your soil which are definitely good things to have. Now besides the good base of the
compost, I also like to add other things like I’ll be sharing with you guys today. And
these are just some of the things I have laying around and I have used other things like kelp
meal, like zeolite, like soil Humates, that I actually don’t have today, but I have
these guys. And I always want to encourage you guys to do the best you can. You might
not be able to source all these different things, and if you don’t get all these things,
guess what? You’ll still be able to garden, you’ll still probably get amazing results.
I just want to dial it in and get everything and all the different nutrients that my plants
may need in the soil so that they have access to them if they want to get them. Now, some
of these things you could add a ton of and it’s not going to affect the soil and you
can’t burn or anything with most these things, although with some of them, you can imbalance
the soil ph by adding too many and I’ll kind of point that out. So we’ll go over
these one at a time. Alright, here we got the microbes and minerals by John and Bob.
This adds some trace minerals plus some beneficial microbes in there. We got a nourished bio
saw which is 100 percent all natural, all-purpose plant derived fertilizer. Next, we have my
own, only, animal derived fertilizer; not a super huge fan of animal derived fertilizers.
The problem I have with them for the most part is the feed stock. They are heated. So
if you’re getting manures, chicken manures, or whatever kind of manures, number 1, they
may be coming from a factory feed lot and in which case their feeding their animals
a lot of antibiotics, gmo foods, corn and soy. The residues of those items are now going
to be in the poop, which then you’re going to put into your soil. Most people don’t
think about these things. If I had a good, reliable manure source, I would use some in
smaller quantities, but I still believe that plant derived composts are, for me, far superior
than manure composts, especially when adding some of these other things that I’ll be
adding. So I got some bag guano that’s high in nitrogen. This happens to be just laying
around so I’m just going to use it until I’m done with it, then I’m not going to
get anymore. But this is the kind of manures that I do approve of, actually. It’s Worm
Gold Plus, and this is the worm castings. This is literally worm poop, so it’s worm
manure. This is much more beneficial than any other animal manure-based product, because
the worms live in the ground. Hopefully they’re in your garden actually eating decaying matter
and pooping out rich nutrients that are available to your plants so that they can absorb them.
Now besides just the manure and the nutrients in them, there’s also beneficial microbes,
so the beneficial fungi and bacteria in the worm poop. Now, in the standard manures like
cow, and chicken, and other animal manures, there may be toxic pathogens. E coli, these
things can be in manures that now you could now spread into your garden and can contaminate
your foods and get you real sick. You may have heard of the cantaloupe outbreak of salmonella
or all these different kind of things in the produce trade. That’s not because of these
kind of fertilizers. That’s because they’re using un-composted manures and it gets contaminated
over. And the strains of the bad bacteria are resistant to antibiotics because it’s
all in the feed that they’re giving them. So they’re really virulent strains. And
that’s yet another reason why I do not choose to use animal manures in any large quantities
because you just never know unless you’re making it yourself with your animal. So the
worm manure is my favorite manure of them all, and I know I just have the worm gold
plus. Also, I have this. This is called the super earthworm castings by EB Stone. In addition,
I got the wiggle worm soil builder soil builder earthworm castings. And over here, I got the
vermi worm (14:21) earthworm castings. So all earthworm castings are definitely not
created equal, you know, have you ever gone into a place where you go into a public bathroom
and you go in there and like, man! That smells nasty! Well, the manure created is based on
whatever the person’s eating. If you’re eating some nasty stuff, it’s going to smell
nasty on the back end. But on the other hand, if you’re eating something like a papaya
diet for a couple days cause you’re eating somewhere that you get non GMO papayas. Let
me tell you, you’re poop actually smells like flowers if you eat papayas. That might
be too much information. But you know, that just shows you what’s in your manure depends
on what you’re fed. And the worms here, the different brands, they feed their worms
different things. They may feed them things like cardboard. They may feed them things
like rotten food scraps. They may feed them waste. So, every different worm casting is
a little bit different. It’s going to have different nutrients and also different levels
of microbes in there. Some adding a spectrum, because that’s the kind of manure I want.
I want a full spectrum. Worm manure, we’re going to get them with four different kinds
today. Now besides the worm manure is a really good soil builder. We got this next product,
which is actually called the bio char, so you might have seen my recent episode on bio
char. I definitely believe it’s a really good thing to add. It provides a home for
the microbes. In addition, it holds on to some nutrients and keeps it in your soil,
which I think is definitely a good thing. So next, we got the grounder box (15:51) and
I think grounder box is really where it’s at. This is the future of soil builders in
my opinion, that’s really under-exploited in this age. Actually rock powders can be
very hard to find, and there are many different types. You might be thinking, John, rock powder
right? Is that rock phosphate? Well, we got some of that right here, the rock phosphate.
But, the rock phosphate, has a very limited spectrum of the trace minerals. And yes, it
has some minerals in there. I definitely advocate not using too much of the rock phosphate.
You can mess up your ph. Next door, we actually have the jersey green sand, which has more
minerals than the rock phosphate, maybe like 20 some odd minerals in the jersey green sand,
which is good, but I want to add a full spectrum of 70+ minerals, including trace minerals
back into my soil. So I’m using these next guys. We got the gaia green glacial rock dust,
so this is a rock dust, and we got the azomite. Both these are a fine powder like a flower
consistency, so they’re more bio available for the microbes in the soil and for your
plants to absorb them, but also they contain over 70 different minerals. The azomite is
mostly silica but it has a wide spectrum of trace minerals, something that the other rock
products actually do not have. So what I’m going to do next is take a bunch of scoops
of all this different stuff, probably a majority of worm castings and the rock dust powders,
with smaller scoops of everything else. We’ll mix it in a bucket and then we’re going
to go ahead and spread it on the new raised bed before we add the compost to the top.
So, starting with the rock dust, we’re probably going to put like 5 scoops of each one. The
rock phosphate, we’re going to probably add like 1 scoop. Jersey green sand, stuff
is cool. It’s green. We’ll probably put 3 scoops of that stuff in there. We got the
raw bio char here. We’re probably going to put 2 scoops of the bio char in there.
Next, we got the worm castings. So we’re probably going to put 3 scoops of each different
kinds of worm castings in my mixture. Next we got the bat guano. We got one scoop of
this stuff. Finally, we got the John and Bob’s products. I’m going to use one scoop of
each. You’re probably thinking, John, how did you know how much to add for all this
stuff? Well, you could read the labels and add what they recommend to your bed, which
would probably be the first choice. I’ve just kind of been doing this a while and I
kind of go by Gardner’s intuition. I used to add one bag of rock dust for a brand new
raised bed for the whole thing. You can’t really burn with rock dust or worm castings.
So feel free to add as much of those guys as you can afford. On these guys, definitely
stick to what the manufacturer recommends. Once again, what we’re making right now
is going to be spread out on a four foot by fifteen foot raised bed just on the top layer.
And the thing I want to remind you guys, I’ve been growing in these beds for many years
now. And at the end of every season, I’m pulling off a lot of produce. A lot of these
I’m eating, things are going in the compost bin. But every season I’m taking foods out,
and when I’m taking the foods out, I’m also taking the nutrition that was in the
soil out with them, so that they can go into me or into the compost pile. So we want to
put back minimally, that amount of nutrition back into the soil. If you pull a hundred
pounds out, you want to put a hundred pounds back in the soil. We got a little bucket here,
and it’s getting quite heavy. We’re putting like, 40 pounds of the super concentrated
soil builders. But in addition, we’re putting a lot of poundage of that compost that we
picked up earlier as well. What we’re going to do next, I’m probably going to just mix
everything up in this bucket by putting a lid on the bucket and spinning around, rolling
around, get it all mixed up. And then we’ll layer this out on the bed and get it fairly
even. We distribute it and just layer in the compost on top.
All right, I think I got all this stuff mixed up. This is all that stuff you saw me put
in here. Basically its worm castings and the worm dust with small amounts of other stuff.
We got it in a nice, fine powder here, and I’m just going to go ahead and take it in
a little scoop and shake it out over this whole, raised bed to get a nice coating, so
I’ll get some even coverage of all the nutrition going in the bed. Once this is done, then
we’re just going to simply pile on the compost on top, maybe mix it up a little bit. Now,
note, I am not tilling this into my soil. I’m not digging the soil and putting it
down. I believe in the no till method of farming and gardening. The reason for this is I don’t
want to disturb the soil microbes and more importantly, the earth ones. If you start
shoveling in here, you’re going to chop up earthworms. And let me tell you, because
I’ve been doing this technique for a while, there’s a lot of earthworms in here and
they’re my friends. Think about it, I could keep buying bags of earthworm castings and
they can get expensive. I get some of the bags for ten bucks. They can get kind of pricey,
up to fifteen, twenty bucks. I could continue to do that and bring worm castings in, or
you can nurture the worms in the soil by adding the organic matter and other things and have
a full bed full of worms that are now eating organic matter and pooping out worm castings
and putting them where you need them in the beds so you don’t have to bring them in.
Contrary to popular beliefs, if you chop a worm in half, it doesn’t make two of them.
So I’m going to go ahead and spread this stuff out and then we’ll spread the compost
on top and gently just mix the top layer in. We got all the soil building amendments spread
down in the bed. The next step is we’re just going to take these bags we loaded up
and just dump it out. One of the things I’ve learned in life is to not spread yourself
too thin. Don’t spread your compost too thin either. We’re continuing to dump these
guys out, and they’re nice, easy, lightweight bags that I could easily handle, pick up,
and put into the raised beds that’s two and a half feet off the ground. Now I know
some of you guys are thinking when you saw me load up the compost by hand. Man! John!
You should own a truck. Well, if I had a truck and loaded it into the truck, after I got
home, I would have to unload it out of the truck either with the wheelbarrow or by the
shovelful, or some way and get it into my bed. I find it much easier to bag it up onsite,
bring out the bags, and just dump the bags where I need them. Remember, as you get more
mature, hopefully get smarter and you don’t have to work harder.
As you guys can see, I got the bed topped off, basically laid on the new compost, smoothed
it all out. I like things when their smooth. I put the irrigation system back on and now,
we’re all ready and set to plant out for the new season. Now one of the cool things
is, check this stuff out. This stuff is kind of like compost, but it’s also like a multi-lite
consistency. This will also help my plant that I’m planting here retain the water
because about that much underneath this compost I spread down, is the soil that I’ve been
working and building year after year after year. In the end of this episode, I really
want to encourage you guys, instead of thinking fertilizer, think soil builder. And before
you go to buy that big box brand fertilizer, think WWJD. That’s not what would Jesus
do, that’s what would John do. He would build this soil by adding things like the
compost; the fungal compost; the bacterial, thermal compost; or the rock dust; or the
worm castings; and use compost Teas to ensure you have the microbiology that’s able to
break down all the nutrients and organic matter, and also the trace minerals to bring them
up into the plants so that you will have the healthiest and best growing season ever. Hopefully
you guys enjoyed this episode. Once again my name is John Kohler with growingyourgreens.com.
We’ll see you next time and remember, keep on growing.

99 thoughts on “Why I Never Fertilize My Vegetable Garden and Get Better Results without it

  • Heyyyyy John If your ever in Washington You should do a video on Paul Gautschi on back to eden. He has a awsome garden, orchard. That would be the coolest, greatest, bestest  video ever!!!!

  • If Jesus had been a gardener, He'd have done exactly what you do (just as He has guided me to do for 40 yrs)….and you would make Him proud, just as I am of you. 🙂

  • Thanks John, lots of valuable information here.  Appreciate your help and advice, you provide a lot of excellent ideas for us new gardeners.

  • Excellent soil improver == human piss!! Loaded with nitrogen and phosporus.  Alternately, and easy to obtain if you're not so into using your pee, is cola + gardener's lime. The cola (pepsi/coke) provides phosphoric acid and sugar and the lime mixed with it provides calcium and magnesium; the sugar is used by bacteria who produce/fix nitrogen and the other components produce calcium phosphate.  Works like a charm!… but don't use diet cola!

  • John sonoma use chicken fethers and duck shit in there compost ???
    these things are comeing from the meat industrie
    but I still like your vids and your thorts on the way of life keepongrowing

  • Beware of unknown source compost may contain harmful substances or contaminants passed down from original materials such as commercial foods or vegetation that had been sprayed with pesticides. *"Compost" IS NOT always a good thing. Best is make your own compost from organic foods or vegetation, or only use 100% reliable brands. You don't want to use compost made from sewer sludge!.

  • Great video! Don't forget gypsum or lime for pH and calcium.

    Once soil is in balance (no deficiencies) the addition of more nutrients and constituents is known as "soil banking".

    Taking your money, energy and other resources and putting them in the garden won't change your credit score but it will insure great gardening.

  • I'm looking for organic rooting methods.  There are no willows around me.  I've called my local nurseries.  Live in the Phoenix metro area.  My garden is veggies and herbs and I don't want to use the chemicals.

  • I'm lucky that our city gives away the compost.  We get up at 5 am and wait outside the gate till they open.  Otherwise, it will be gone within 2 to 3 hours once the gates open at 8am.  This will be my second year using it. I found about it thanks your tip from past video, I sincerely thank you John.

  • I get free compost from a local mushroom factory. They dump it in a small parking lot and let people have at it. The pile gets refilled every week all year. There are even people who take truck loads of it and sell it and earn a profit!

  • It must be nice to have a community that cares enough like Sonoma County.  There are probably others like me that live in Backward County.  Since there are just the two of us here, we don't have enough produce scraps to make enough compost & compost tea for our vegetables and herbs.

    We have a friend at a local health food that saves us two bags of juice pulp that we pick up twice a week.  Others get bags on other days.  We have acres of woods with fallen leaves and fill 10 contractor-size trash bags.  We add two bags of Azomite and two bags of mushroom compost to each bin.  We have 2 bins–4 feet by 4 feet by 3 feet.  We also fill up 3 large plastic trash cans to make quick compost.

    For Praxxus who commented below–love your videos as well.

  • John, what do you think of the Youtuber named Reaganite 71, who uses beer, soda, and ammonia and adds it to grass clippings and other compostables to make compost in 2 weeks?  

  • Great Job on this video! There are too many people who only want to go the cheapest way with chemical fertilizer and believe that natural products are counterproductive, the opposite is true in the long run. I use manures and other organic amendments and on the 3rd year it becomes more productive. Making my own worm castings now, its a great way to turn trash into a useful fertilizer… I think your property is awesome!

  • Your best video yet! Thanks for the how tos.

    At this point, you must have great compost and worm castings from your own food scraps and decayed plants and worms. It's not enough?

  • Are you concerned with concentrations of chemicals from the yard clippings? Pesticides, commercial fertilizers, and herbicides?

  • I'm trying out hugelkultur this year in my raised beds, making 2' tall raised beds with a foot of rottnig wood filled in with leaves, sawdust, and manure to offset the nitrogen loss (although with fairly rotten wood this isn't so much of a problem) then layers of oak leaf compost scavenged from the back 40, azomite, mushroom compost, my own compost, and more dark oak compost topped with wood chips.  I turn wood into bowls, plates, handles, etc and always have tons of hardwood shavings.  Last year I attempted to mix mushroom compost, peat, and potting soil into my own rocky soil after filtering it through a mesh screen and it was so compact that my root crops weren't any longer than 2 inches even though I made 18 inch beds.  This year I'm redoing all those beds and spreading a layer of that old soil around the rotting wood and growing in strictly compost.  Root crops don't like too much nitrogen anyway so the oak compost will work great alone in those beds with azomite.  I'll have to post a vid of my progress this summer/fall as the logs are supposed to absorb and hold 4 times their weight in water and last year I had to water some plants every day!  I had more plants die to heat than anything else.  

  • Brandon I'd suggest you try one bed with lasagna style layering and document it's progress over 3 years.  I'm certain you will be impressed.  It's a great way to make use of mulch and compost that isn't completely composted yet.  In fact, there are so many people out there that are NOT composting and instead putting all their biodegradable household waste 2 feet under their beds that it simply cannot be ignored as a viable option.  the proof is in the pictures, watching these no till gardeners produce beautiful crops that get bigger and better year after year.

  • Lucky you. We dont have anything like the compost making plant in India
    Trying  all possible organic things available to mix in. I know 1 thing anything organic there is nothing like 2 much. Thanks for all the great tips

  • John I always love your videos, thank you so much! I wish you would make distinction between chemical fertilizes and organic fertilizers. Many of the organic premixed fertilizes are nearly identical to what you are blending up. The only difference is it is premixed in a bag with an NPK rating and you purchased a number of different bags and mixed it up your self. As an example you mentioned one of your worm casting sources E.B. Stone, many of their organic fertilizers are made will all organic inputs mixed in a bag and ready for sale. They specifically blended for what ever purpose you need, ie: roses, citrus, vegetables, fruit etc. Just because they have an NPK rating does not make them any less organic than your mix, it just means they have analyzed it and can tell you what the NPK is. They could just as easily analyze your mix and put it into a bag with an NPK rating. I am only saying this because you used the broad term fertilizer rather than specifying chemical fertilizer, organic fertilizer or soil amendment. Maybe I am splitting hairs and being too precise but that is just the opposite end of the spectrum of talking about the whole scalp and being overgeneralized! 

  • I'm always interested in what John has to say and the methods of the people in the comment section.Though I'm living in an apartment with no garden I've spent decades gardening.I like to try as many methods and combinations of methods as possible.Using chemical fertilizer and using organic matter,using only organic matter,using compost along,fishscraps buried deep enough to avoid animals finding them and digging them up and also placing them in the middle of a compost pile,lasagne composting with various ingredients,using pond and aquarium water and filter dirt as irrigation and fertilizer,respectively and more. I just keep trying new things.I hope to move to a place with a neglected but not dumped in backyard where I can continue gardening. I still manage a but of Guerrilla gardening here and there,now and then. Thank you John and those who added ways of gardening in the comment section.

  • John, you should look for a tree cutting service that can provide you with wood chips. Often times they will give them away for free because normally they have to pay to get rid of it. You can then just put the wood chips down on your beds and not have to bother with composting as much.

  • ants ,ants ants…all in my composter..i was so bummed i was in it about 4  or 5 weeks and was looking good till i looked in 1 day… i had to dump it in the green trash….what can i do so this wont happen again ..all that time lost ..ty tony

  • I always throw leaves from a tree in my garden straight onto the beds and half dig in not keep them in bags for a year or so! Leaves break down over the winter.
    Food scraps added as well of course!

  • Surprised you don't have a wormery, save you a pile in the end. Plus you know what you put in it. I've just started one along with my first season in my own garden. 

  • Good videos. You mentioned living in California but in a recent? video you mentioned living in and you showed us your back yard…you get around!

  • aged horse manure from local equestrian school…30 min. round trip on my bike equipped  with modified child bike trailer , about hundred pounds per trip, i'm gonna reach one metric ton tomorrow for this year….(20 trips)…worm castings included…
    …stuff is golden…

  • This was fantastic! I think it's good that you posted this video because you are showing us the alternatives (healthy and better) to the prepackaged fertilizers like those sold in big box stores. Thank you for encouraging us to mix our own soil. It helps me to learn more about building soil:)

  • Have you ever considered those lawns who treat with chemicals?  Those chemicals, like insecticides and herbicides, go into the compost.

  • I have never fertilized my garden. I make it FULL organic with no pesticides and no fertilizer. My plants are huge and have delicious produce for my family, myself, and my rabbit 🙂

  • Hi John, when are you coming over to my place to turn the backyard into an edible Forrest. I've got the pallets to make raised garden beds. I had a stroke 2 years ago so raised no dig beds are perfect. See you when you call in tomorrow LOL. BTW I live in Adelaide, South Australia. Keep up the excellent work mate.

  • This is simply a more time consuming organic methodology.  NPK and micro-nutrients are what's supplied by composting, mulching, et al., only your degree of control, i.e. nutrient composition, is decreased.  These last longer, as they decompose cyclically, but hardly essential for the average gardener.  Synthetic or direct fertilizers should not be deprecated.  They work.  

  • Not to be a naysayer as such, and I am also aware that this is a better way then certain others to build fertility, such as you said "blue stuff in a bag." However being a professional horticulturist, and landscaper for over 15 years, I would caution anyone who would use municipal soil outlets to be aware that there are large amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and nitrates in the soils and grass clippings which come from peoples yards which the soils are made from. Commercial landscape companies are very liberal with the amounts of toxins that they put in landscapes, then remove and bring to the municipal dumps. Best bet is just like your food, grow your own. Cover crops can be a very good soil builder, also adding animals ( from fish to rabbits to elephants) into system. Thanks for your videos John!

  • Mushroom compost is well worth it, I've been told. I don't use city compost as you have all kinds of things in there, including plants sprayed with Roundup and other things. It kind of cancels out any benefit of 'organic' or 'bio' gardening.

  • Lmfao. I could already tell this guy is a narcissist, but did he literally just try and tell us his shit doesn't stink? What a tool…

  • 1. You DO fertilize (with compost and other organic matter)
    2. What you mean is you do not use "chemical" fertilizer
    3. If 'Fertilizer" was not useful commercial farmers wouldn't waste money on it.
    4. "Hundreds of years old" trees mostly are that way because of hundreds of years and luck.. how many trees sprout in a rain-forest in a 200 year period? how many of those reach ages of 200 years? monkeys and typewriters..

    5. In a "small residential space" you would be better off using chemical fertilizer if yield and best use of space is a goal. Compost piles take up decent amounts of space (around one small garden bed of footprint each) take MONTHS-YEARS to mature and provide small amounts of slow release nutrient dependent on soil condition.
    Chemical Fertilizers, yes cost more ~$20 for 700+ sq m (2290 odd sq ft.)
    But you do not have to wait for it, store it (Compost is very very bulky vs nutrients per kg) and can be applied once per rotation for massive growth.

    6. The average person today is going to want the best yield from smallest work, that is just society today, Chemical fertilizers are easier, quicker, cleaner nicer smelling than most compost/manures. This lends itself greatly to the "modern" gardener.

    7. Not quite on topic, but, going totally organic = much much more work, pest control, fertilizing, soil conditioning etc works better with chemicals.

  • John, I was wondering if it concerns you that the municipal compost is not organic? I live in the Los Angeles County area and we have free compost available. (I discovered this after watching your video 🙂 ) I am thinking about using it in my areas that are not being used for food growth at this time, but will be in the future.

  • Do you buy soil or just compost for veggie garden? At my local shop we have two options COW AND COMPOST – This blend of Greenlife and premium cow manure is ideal for enriching depleted soil. OR OR OR COMPLETE VEGETABLE AND SEEDLING MIX – Blend of 30% Greenlife Soil, 10% Cow Manure, 20% Course Sand, 40% Greenlife with added Dolomite and Complete Fertiliser

  • John, you are real beauty legent for me. I would like to thank you once more for sharing your brilliant tutorial video and your ways and methods of building and improuving the soil, so that the plants can have the most biological and active soil full of nutrians that's good for all the plants. Regards : Mich'Michel

  • okay call me a whack job butt some of us do believe in fairies sprinkling a little dust around lmao just saying don't dishonor others beliefs in the way I just heard it I believe in the magic of this Earth growing things comes naturally to her 😉

  • That is all very well IF the natural soil is fertile to begin with. If all your compost comes from an area lacking in certain minerals then your food will lack those. I love compost as much as the next organic fanatic, but have seen great results from adding some Complete Organic Fertilizer as instructed by Steve Solomon. I never could grow beets until I added the teensiest bit of boron.

  • in the beginning of your video you said no fertalizers !!!! and you like all natural forest style method,,,,than you bring in all them bags of fertilizer….. isn't that simple compost you loaded into your car enough???

  • Doesn't nature use a ton of animal manure, particularly in a food abundant forest? The more trees, the more birds, the more rabbits, coyotes, deer, ducks, etc? I'd suggest that using only the plant based fertilizers is only the first step to getting the best quality most nutritious food available…….. I mean, we're supposed to be modeling nature. I see the example as being she gets it started to bring the animals in, the more animals she brings in, the richer the soil gets……..

    Chew on that vegans……..


    To each their own, and I have no problem with choosing a vegan life. but to raise plants without the food nature intended them to have can't be as "good". It just makes sense. The more diversity you can bring in to feed the plants the more nutrition they will have. I have nothing to back this up, except for the fact nature will show it to you if you go out to a forest.
    The more she makes, the more animals will come to shit on it.


    love your videos John,
    keep'em coming.

  • Hey John have you ever been to this place in Dallas Texas it's call Soil Building Systems
    2101 Walnut Hill, Dallas TX, 75229
    Mapsco: Dallas 22 P

  • So the locals give this company everything it needs to make the compost. Then the company sells the compost back to the locals.
    Yea no thanks I'll make my own and save more then just money.

  • In China, they used night soil, aka human poop, and the produce they export to America, and we eat these. Yummy.

  • That is no different nutritionally than commercial fertilizer except your way is a shot in the dark as far as ratios go and way more work. Used responsibly, commercial fertilizers pose no danger to the environment. Work smarter, not harder.

  • imho best way to fertilize veggies is to add Miracle Grow Shake N Feed veggie fertilizer directly into the soil. Try it, you'll see. Most compost and organic fertilizers just don't have enough energy for the kind of high yields most people like seeing.

  • No rock dust in the forest either! Leaves contain the same trace elements as rock dust.
    Sometimes the natural system needs a little help as we have a lot of plants growing in a limited space – intensive planting. We made need some soluble fertilizer in the short term in times of high growth. Learned a lot from your videos!!
    I bought my compost (first year gardening) from my local composting facility. It seems a bit woody, so should have sifted it. I may add a little N if growth seems retarded, good so far. My Spicy Oregano doesn't seem to be moving though.
    Great videos, Thanks John.

  • Replying to some of the comments.
    I'm not a fan of county recycled garden waste either, but I do use it when I'm building a new raised bed.
    I start with my own hard clippings – small branches and stuff, then more green and browns from my garden to level it out.
    Next , the "Sonoma Compost" or similar available here and then my own compost mixed with some coir and sometimes a bit of perlite.
    Then I add the extra stuff like rock dust etc.
    I try to reduce my bought additions to what I feel is essential – the rest I try to create when I can.
    Over time, the not so good stuff will dissipate and be replaced by your own inputs.

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