Daily Archives: May 5, 2008

free fertilizer vs. $16,000 fertilizer

We a seemingly endless amount of weeding and thinning this weekend which gave us a nice amount of amaranth, pursulane, chinese mustard and micro-greens to have for salads. A small reward for all the time spent on our knees.
grass clippings
Scott also mowed our lawn and used the grass clipping in our newest experiment in the broccoli/cauliflower bed. We read a great article in Mother Earth News this weekend that explored the different types of organic fertilizer on the market. As you know, fertilizers must be labeled by their Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (N-P-K) levels. Being that nitrogen is a likely deficient in many soils, the author compared the fertilizers based on their per pound of nitrogen. She compares 17 different store bought organic fertilizers, the cheapest being SoyBean Meal (7-2-1) at $4/lb of nitrogen and the most expensive being TerraCycle Plant Food (.03-.002-.02) at a whopping $16,987/lb of nitrogen.

Or she says, you can just use ordinary grass clippings which contain anywhere from 2% – 5% of nitrogen. In most areas you can work in about half an inch into your soil, or put a 1-2 inch layer as a mulch on your garden bed and that will provide all the nutrients most crops need for a full season of growth! Not only will it provide nutrients, but the grass clippings as a mulch act as a good weed prevention and as a moisture retainer.

Usually we just put our grass clippings into the compost pile and let them compost. Doing that dilutes the nitrogen power down to about 1%, but the benefit of compost is that it departs its nutrients into the soil over a matter of years rather than in just one growing season.

Either way, obviously, is beneficial. And obviously much, much cheaper than buying organic fertilizer, wouldn’t you say? I don’t know, free vs. $16,987, you make the call.


Filed under Fertilizing, just picked, Mulch, Our Weekends, what we've learned

buy nothing wrap up

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008

I keep meaning to wrap up my Buy Nothing Challenge that Crunchy Chicken put on in April. I did great actually, as long we don’t talk about April 15th, I keep all of my unnecessary spending under $20 for the whole month. Just a few coffees out with a friend and a couple of organizing crates at the hardware store, oh and a few Ed Emberly books at the thrift store for 50 cents. So what happened April 15th? Well, I made a trip to Target, damn that store with all of its temptation. Actually everything I bought were things that we needed and I only make the trip there once every few months.

The interesting thing about this challenge to me was to view my own spending habits. I realized that this challenge wasn’t all that hard for me. I don’t buy very many unnecessary things, usually coffee, an occassional piece of clothing, a couple of treasures while browsing the thrift store, nothing outrageous or superfluous. We’ve always known that we don’t spend that much, but we do have expensive tastes. So we find that if we can’t have the best, than we’d rather go without until we can afford it.

My Challenge for May is Green Bean’s Be a Bookworm. I’m going to be wrapping up In Defense of Food and tackling maybe Affluenza or a gardening book. I’ll let you know!

Edit: So I just received our April credit card bill, it’s exactly half of what it was the month previous. Hmmm, so maybe I do shop more than I think! Needless to say The Buy Nothing Challenge was helpful to our pocketbook. Maybe I should make every month a Buy Nothing Month. Or at least a Buy Next to Nothing month.

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Filed under books, Buy Nothing Challenge