Many of us use degraded land and have to build up fertility to produce the bumper crops we so want to show off to our friends. We all have a way of doing this, some of us, quite weird -yet awesome, some maybe just weird, but I think we could all benefit from sharing our way of ensuring our plants get healthy. After all, healthy plants make healthy people.
For me, I use a little nutrient deficiency symptoms cheat sheet (googled and printed), plus for NPK + pH I use one of those little chemistry sets from time to time. To fertilize, I like blood and bone meal to ensure all herbivores know there's some voracious predators in this garden and they must steer clear. But, I also try to grow my own compost which is comprised of just about anything carbon-based the dog wouldn't eat. HOWEVER, because the poor soils here are sooo abused, that is not nearly enough. Many water-soluble nutrients are leached out and in not nearly high enough presences in the fertilizers in the store, which focus on NPK, not CA, Mg, Mn, Cu, Zn, .... So, I use Epsom salt and ag. lime, for Magnesium, tums, milk, cement lime, and calcium pills for calcium, multivitamin for Mn and whatever other micros unlisted. I pour old soup broth and hard-boild egg water and anything else too liquid for the compost all around, ensuring I have some food-safety separation when it comes to things that could make me ill. I've soaked banana peels and burnt wood for the ash (okay, the hot dogs weren't bad either) to beef up potassium. The results definitely show in the garden. It looks SOOOO much better than last year. My next "attack" will be smashing lava rocks and sprinkling that around, along with emptying a bag of rough sand, crushed gravel, or the like across the ground since I think I have seen about 5 rocks total in the garden (0.1 acres) that I didn't place there myself, so I figure we could probably just use some fresh deposition since anything that was on the old deposition (or most everything) has been removed. For indoors, I use only liquids (to prevent gnat growth), out doors is a free-for-all.
Compost tea with milk and sugar (molasses) really perks things up.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Balancing my community farm soil according to Steve Solomon's prescriptions; getting an accurate soil test, and then bringing all the major nutrients into balance with one another. So far, this has involved soy bean meal, kelp, gypsum, zinc sulfate, borax, and soft rock phosphate. But it will be different for each person.
At home, using Steve Solomon's Complete Organic Fertilizer recipe, because things are too non-uniform for a soil test.
Making compost and mulching to the best of my ability, and using some fish emulsion on sick looking plants.
We can get a seaweed product here from a food processing plant and it is a lime alternative for our acidic soil. However, it has a lot of minor trace minerals in it that go beyond NPK and that is what gets results!! As for the NPK...I am a commercial sheep farm and so the manure has actually gotten my fields to "Optimum" or "Above Optimum" levels on my soil testing. With that in mind, and cheating a bit to get a decent second crop without using lots of fuel to spread my sheep manure, I used a little pelleted urea.
Historically, I've also made Steve Solomon's complete organic fertilizer, both the original and update versions with good success. I was short on time this year so bought a similar one offered by a local shop. I find it vital to getting vegetables to grow well in my off-balance soil. Vegetables that don't grow well because the right minerals aren't there / aren't available aren't doing me any good. For everything else, various forms of mulch and maybe a bit of lime.
I always leave a small section as insect/mulch section. I have rosemary, sage, lavender, and a few others. I also grow comfrey and sun chokes; they make a good amount of biomass. I chop and drop all weeds. Some years I will buy a bag of minerals.
Common Weeds And Wild Edibles Of The World (HD video)