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Complete Organic Fertilizer Recipe

By Steve Solomon

I began recommending Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF) about 25 years ago because COF is simple to make; easy and pleasant to use; it is safe, even if somewhat over-applied; and it works marvelously almost anywhere for anyone. At today’s prices, highly potent COF still works out to be less costly than any other organic fertility source. The ingredients for COF are not usually found in garden centers. Source them from farm supply or animal feed stores, usually in 50 pound sacks. All the ingredients are stable (if kept dry) so there is no loss when buying enough for several years. If your garden is not large, I suggest starting with one bag of each item. Down To Earth, a distributor and retailer in Eugene, sells the ingredients and also makes their own effective version of COF, premixed and available from their store and from other regional shops they supply. In Seattle, check out Walt’s Organic Fertilizer Company.

When blending COF all ingredients are measured by volume, using a tin can or other scoop. Do not measure by weight. Into a large plastic bucket pour the following:

4 measures of canola seed meal or cottonseed meal;

1/2 measure of ordinary agricultural lime;

1/2 measure of dolomite lime;

1 measure of bone meal or rock phosphate or high phosphate guano;

1/2 to 1 measure of kelp meal.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly.

Uniformly spread 4–6 quarts of COF per 100 sq. feet of growing bed or, if growing in long rows, 4–6 quarts of COF per 50 row feet, covering a band about 18” wide with the row of seeds or seedlings located in the center of that band. Dig it in and plant or sow seeds. If you’ll be sowing seeds do not apply more than the amount I suggest because if you create too much fertility, germination may fail. Once the seedlings are up, if your crop does not grow fast enough to suit you, side-dress it with up to another 4–6 quarts per 100 sq. ft of bed or 50 feet of row. There is no need to hoe in what was side-dressed. If the extra COF gives you a good result you shouldn’t need any more through the entire crop cycle. If the extra COF had no result, you did not need it, and do not add any more because you might overfertilize and harm your plants.