Bio-Gold is a little on the pricey side. There’s no denying it. That being said, I’ve trolled the internet for recipes on fertilizer cakes, mostly to update the recipe I’ve been using for a couple of years now. I think I have a mix that will work better for me.
I’ve done a little research, and here’s what I’m thinking of including. I’m including links in case you want to recommend a better brand/product, and not for promotional purposes:
3 parts Cottonseed Meal (nitrogen and potassium)
1 Part Bone Meal (phosphorus and protein)
1 part Blood Meal (nitrogen)
1 part Soil Acidifier (counteract hard water)
1/2 part All Purpose fertilizer, with iron (overall NPK and iron to help with chlorosis)
5 oz Fish Emulsion (overall NPK and binding)
1 Tbl. Iron Chelate (Chlorosis)
All purpose liquid fertilizer as needed (for binding)
4 oz glue (long term bindng)
I live in southern Arizona, and the water here is very hard, leaving a white crust on the rim of all my pots. It’s gotten better now that I’ve begun using top dressing on my trees, but it’s still there. That’s why I’m adding the acidifier, instead of the garden lime from the original recipe. It’s also why I’m adding the iron chelate. Some of my trees have an especially hard time with the hard water, and this helped. Some of the recipes I saw called for flour instead of glue, but the glue I’m using is washable, and for some reason, seems better than the flour. I keep imagining little dough balls in the bottom of my pots! I’ve also never had an issue with mold like others have mentioned.
Any tips you guys could give me would be greatly appreciated, and I’m really looking forward for you guys to tear this apart!
Your recipe looks good.
Have you looked for an alternative fertilizer besides Bio-Gold?
Everything pellitized that I could find locally is completely chemical. I resigned myself to using it, but lost some trees to fertilizer burn this year, even after using a diluted dose. It was heart breaking.
So I’m going back to organic, but there isn’t much besides manure around here. And even if I paid shipping to have something sent, I still end up supplementing. If it isn’t something to help with chlorosis, it’s something to break down the water hardness.
So I’m making my own and customizing it to my particular needs.
I sell Sumo Cakes® fertilizer is why I was asking. But the fun of making your own is that you get that customization of what you are looking for. Just make sure you know the right quantities so you are not dealing with the same next year.
But like I said your recipe looks good.
I’m sure I’ll be tweaking the amounts. I’ll probably get rid of the all purpose stuff with the iron once I’ve used up my supply. Or maybe keep that and lose the iron chelate. We’ll see.
I guess I should also mention that I already have most of the stuff on the list from my general gardening needs. I also get it way cheaper locally, than online. I live in a rural, agricultural area, so most stuff is cheap and easy to find, unless it’s bonsai supplies.
That’s even better. Shipping always adds to the cost of everything.
So I tried to make my own fertilizer cakes 14 years ago. The fish, bone and blood attracted critters into my bonsai enclosure……. and repelled my wife from the noxious fumes. So if you are single and there are no raccoons or rodents in your habitat, it is a solution. Hope you have better experience than I had!
I have always used organic. Supplemented with judiciously with week inorganic. Spuriously tried cakes…
I like the idea of the soil acidifier.
The NPK in the fish emulsion is quick release ( soft organic/natural though…) may not need it ALL sumer. Might swap it for seaweed emulsion for binder. Love the micronutrients in it(both…).
The all purpose fert/ iron is a good idea, its fast release, too. May not need to inorganic supplement as often.
I bit the bullet and invested in biogold… worked real well last two summers. Was utilizing DR Earth products. Great response from my trees. Liked the idea of the micorrizia in it…Wish IT was pellitized…
@Bonsai_bob, I have used the fish emulsion before, and even though I used the deodorized version, my wife has never looked at me the same! I also only lost a pellet here and there to a cat, so the critters weren’t an issue. If anything, pidgeons are really bad down here, so the cats are welcome.
I may just try the seaweed emulsion instead, like @KurtP suggested. I’ll have to check to see if the composition would be that much different, but maybe the smell is! I’m also considering keeping the all purpose with iron in the mix, depending on how much the trees respond to the cakes. I want to be able to use this in small amounts without getting huge explosions of growth every time.
Have you thought about making a tea instead of applying as pellets. You have control of location, meaning you can fertilize the whole container, not just a select spot for pellets. Use a diluted solution and apply every other time you water. Not “Miracle Grow” but an organic tea made from the DR Earth. Which concentration of DR Earth have you used?
Just my opinion…
The visual problem of teabags or piles of pellets does put me off. Im willing to ignore that . Better bioavailability of soft (organic) NPK . I have about 140 trees… not gonna have a 50 gallon barrel of rotting punk in my garden…
Dr Earth is a chunky powder designed to slowly biologically release nutrients…re:ROT…grows mold and bacteria… slow release of NPK… it has been partially composted already. Carries its own load of ‘good ?’ Biome… this is benificial for the sterile bonsai soil… and tree health. (I did sprinkle about a tablespoon on a 12" pot… Now using biogold instead…)
Just like the use of pellitized biogold… (THIS IS A GOOD THING…) It is called organic for a reason…
BTW, the seaweed emulsion has a lower NPK than rotting fish parts. Smells better…
Try Dr. Earth “Throw and Grow”. It’s NPK is 5-5-5 and comes as small granules with the usual micro-orgs. It comes in larger sizes up to 25lb. Sam
The 5-5-5 Dr Earth fertilizer is better known as"Life". For the ingredients look at the image in Amazon’s web site.
The ingredients list looks good. I’m wondering how big the pellets are. I couldn’t find a picture of the actual product anywhere. It’s a decent price on Amazon though. Might just pick up a bag to try out.
The weather in my neck of Arizona is getting really nice…
It’ll pretty much be like that from now until May. I figured I’d put my recipe to the test, since I’ll be fertilizing soon.
My mixing bowl:
The trowel is for mixing everything. You can use your hands, but I recommend some rubber gloves, since the fish emulsion is strong, even if it’s deodorized.
All the dry ingredients went into the bowl. I used a small cup that holds a little over 1 cup of dry ingredients. I used one scoop of ingredients for every part, so it was about 7 or 8 cups of dry ingredients total. Once everything went into the bowl, I used the trowel to mix it and added a little of the liquid fertilizer at at time until the mix feels like oatmeal.
Scooped into the tray, a little less than an inch thick:
(My son took the last two photos vertically 'cause he couldn’t stand the smell!)
I use the plastic spatula to score the mix in the tray. The scores help the mix dry faster, and makes it easier to cut into cubes.
Leave them somewhere inaccessible for a few days until they dry. I’ll let you know how they turn out!
Finally dried out (we’ve had a lot of rain and humidity). Broke them up, fertilized everything, and still had a big tupperware full left for next month. They’re a little more crumbly than I’d like, so maybe I’ll use a bit more glue next time. Gonna try another batch in a few months.
I have a similar recipe. I, also, am encountering some humidity in the valley where we live. I made some cakes a few weeks back, and just noticed today that there is some mold build-up on them. Should I be worried about this? Seems organic, right?! But, admitting, I’m no biologist/botanist. Haven’t seen any reference material on this, and it’s my first go at making my own cakes. Should this be a good sign that some microbial things are happening? Or should I start over?
I honestly don’t know. I’ve never had them mold up on me, I keep them sealed up when stored. I also use all commercial fertilizers to make mine. If you used flour to bind them, or included something that would encourage mold, it could explain it.
Maybe use them in your general gardening, and keep the non-moldy ones for your bonsai. If you didn’t make a huge batch, maybe start over. Better safe than sorry. Wish I had more / better advice.
From my experiences…
If the cakes are not DRY, they will grow mold. I would discard them. Your call. Depends on many things.
You WANT the mold and bacteria already populating the bonsai/ pot to digest the organic material naturally.
“I also use all commercial fertilizers to make mine.” ?
The REASON you use organic materials is to SOFTLTY and slowly release the nutrients; and to encourage the bacterial biome. The inorganic fertilizers , if used in a cake, are disolved QUICKLY and washed through/ maybe absorbed and utilized. Big hit of NPK. I recently overfertilized (organic) a in-ground ponderosa. Grew like crazy. Killed it. Too much nitrogen… My ruhbarb plant loved the same treatment…
live and lirn…
All good, thanks. I’ve got some small junipers potted that have bad aesthetics, so I might sacrifice a few of them as lab rats.