So you've got your FoodCycler, and you've been anxiously storing your homemade fertilizer for use in your springtime garden.
This step-by-step guide will walk you through actually incorporating "foodilizer" into your outdoor spring garden.
First: A Note on NPK
NPK is a measurement you might have seen printed on fertilizer packaging (both synthetic and organic). NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. These are called macronutrients, because they are the three main nutrients your plants require to sprout up big and strong.
An NPK measurement determines the ratio between these three macronutrients. Though this isn't an exact science, fertilizers high in nitrogen spike growth and plant height, those high in phosphorous increase plant strength and breadth of leaves, and those high in potassium increase water retention and the rate of photosynthesis.
The NPK of your foodilizer will absolutely vary depending on the types of food you eat. As a rule of thumb, though, the more meat products you add to your FoodCycler, the higher the nitrogen count. Nitrogen is a key component of red meat and poultry in particular, as it comes from the amino acids that make up meat protein.
For non-vegan/vegetarians, the average NPK of foodilizer is 4-1-1. We haven't tested the NPK value of an entirely plant-based diet, but we've got it on our radar!
Amending Your Soil with Foodilizer
The first step in foodilizer gardening is to ensure that your homemade fertilizer is combined with your soil. This combination can occur indoors, with bought-in soil, or outdoors in your garden.
...for an upcoming blog post which will describe the different methods for incorporating your foodilizer in with your soil!
To make the most of the entire growing season, we recommend that you incorporate your foodilizer in with your soil at least 6 weeks prior to the last frost. This will allow your foodilizer to properly break down in the soil in time for the earliest possible spring planting.
If you're starting your garden later in the season, that is totally fine! We can't all be early birds! If this is the case, we still recommend a curing period of approximately 6 weeks. This will make sure that your soil amendment cures with the soil, breaking down completely as the soil's existing bacteria munch on that tasty biomatter.
A Healthy Balance
Because of the powerful nitrogen ratio in your homemade fertilizer, we recommend a minimum foodilizer-to-soil ratio of 1:10. If incorporated into your soil at a tighter ratio than 1:10, your plants may be "burned" by a nitrogen overload! The horror! 😱
When in doubt, you can't do any damage by adding too much soil. An excellent green-thumb rule-of-thumb is to always get more soil than you think you need. This is especially true of foodilizer gardening: not only does the foodilizer need to be mixed in with soil, it needs to appropriately covered with soil to ensure that the foodilizer is protected from the elements (and pests) while it cures.
You Are What You Eat (& What You Garden!)
You know the expression "let food be thy medicine"? Well, we'd like to expand that to include: "Let food be thy fertilizer."
The best way to prepare your foodilizer for your garden is to think of it like you would your own health. The absolute best homemade fertilizer will be composed of healthy, whole, organic foods. Meat is fine, when eaten (or cycled) in moderation. Limit the amounts of sugary, processed, salty or fatty foods, as these can produce an acidic or overly-salty end-product which can harm your plant roots.
- Mix your foodilizer in with your soil at a minimum ratio of 1:10
- Your foodilizer has an average NPK of 4-1-1 (nitrogen-rich)
- Let your foodilizer cure in soil for a few weeks, preferably 6
- To get your garden up and ready by the time spring rolls around, start curing your foodilizer 6 weeks prior to the last frost
Want to learn how to add your foodilizer to your garden soil?