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Complete Organic Fertiliser

for balanced soil

In the notes below I explain the composition of an organic fertiliser I mix myself from essential ingredients to complement the soils in Tasmania. Wherever COF is mentioned on this site you can confidently substitute Yates Dynamic Lifter

* Dynamic Lifter is a compromise on the quality on the recipe below, BUT if you do not want to invest $310 for your first vegetable garden you may need to look for something like this on the shelves of your garden store.

The essential message of this page is that the balance of your fertiliser needs to be in the range of:

Nitrogen (N) 3-5

Phosphorus (P) 3-5

Potassium( K)0.8-1.5%

Bear in mind that a higher level of Potassium will grow fantastic leafy vegetables but the nutrition will be severely compromised as this element is already readily available in cool climate soils.

Dynamic lifter needs to be applied at almost double the recommended rate (450 gms per square metre over the cycle of the vegetable ) to show the same growth rates.

This makes the COF recommended below excellent value as long as you are committed to invest in the bulk storage.

A balanced fertiliser for cool climate conditions needs to be mild to seedlings.

It needs to contain about 5%(N) Nitrogen, 4% (P) in a fairly available form - Guano is the best, about 1% (K) Potassium as a well as balanced amounts of calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals such as iodine, cobalt, manganese, and boron.

It would need to release these elements slowly so the nutrients didn't wash out of the top soil with the first excessive irrigation or heavy rain .

A fertiliser like this will produce high levels of nutrition in the food we grow.

A higher potassium level will produce a higher leaf yield and make vegetables look spectacular, but the overall nutrition of vegetables would decrease.

Use this formula for a well balanced mix in cool climate soils to achieve a 5:4:1 mix (Recipe from " Growing Vegetables South of Australia- Steve Solomon)

Mix by volume

4 parts seed meal


3 parts seed meal and 1 part blood and bone meal. This option gives a blend that is better for fast growing leafy crops


1/2 part agricultural lime ( contains calcium)

1/2 part dolomite lime ( contains magnesium)

1/2 part guano or phosphate rock ( not treated with sulphur and more readily available to plants)

1 part kelp meal.( contains iodine)

In a plastic garbage bin I mix:

12 scoops of Canola meal (or other available seed meal)

4 scoops of blood and bone meal.

2 scoops of agricultural lime

2 scoops of dolomite

2 scoops kelp meal

scoop Using a 1 litre scoop constructed from a plastic 2 litre milk container, this makes about 24 litres of fertiliser.

I use about 2 mixes of this per season for my entire garden.

It works out at a cost of $1.20 per litre as against Dynamic Lifter 3.2:2.6:1.3 at about $1.50 per litre if you buy it in 15kg bags.

COF is almost twice as strong.

The only disadvantage is that you need to purchase the materials in 20 or 25 kg bags, which means you have a reasonable investment in fertiliser stored in plastic rubbish bins.

Use this fertiliser on new beds at a rate of 4 litres to each 10 square metres of bed space.

Hoe or dig this uniformly into the soil.

You will need higher amounts at first until your new beds have been used a few years but after this the clay should be saturated with a chemical balance and you won't need to use as much.

Side dress every 2 weeks with COF by sprinkling it between the rows of plants and watering in well.

Always be guided by the way your plants respond.

If after a side dressing every 2 weeks the plants don't respond to a new level of fertiliser you can presume you have applied enough.

The recipe above for COF is one from "Growing Vegetables South of Australia" by Steve Solomon of Exeter Tasmania.

Steve is originally from Oregon where he was a seed grower and has developed a wealth of knowledge on vegetable growing in a cool climate. His book is my bible on vegetable growing in Tasmania. He goes to great lengths to explain how nutrition is dependent on the soil and how balance in the soil is critical for nutritious vegetables.

Steve also manages The Soil and Health Library This is an excellent library of books and articles on health and nutrition.

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This page was last updated on 14/12/2012