So, most of you probably know that I’m a professional Chef. There are some advantages to this job, but very few of them are bonsai related. But there is one. And it involves….POO!
That’s right, Poo. Poo balls, or cakes, the homemade fertilizer equivalent of the Japanese Abraxas rapeseed cakes. There are recipes all over, but I mixed up a very large batch yesterday, and here’s what I use.
4 parts Cottonseed Meal
2 parts bone meal
1 part blood meal
1 part Bob’s Rolled Oats
(all dry ingredients thoroughly powdered in a spice or coffee grinder)
Plus 1 part All Purpose Flour and a heavy dash of Fungal Innoculant(with mycorrhizae)
2-3 parts liquid mix(equal parts BC Grow, BC Bloom, (update: I add Kelp and Seaweed now as well), with an equal amount of water(with 1.5 tablespoons of Micro Nutrient Chelates, and 1.5 Tablespoons Humic Acid per quart)
Salt and pepper(to taste)
I don’t use fish emulsion, because I have neighbors that are very close and they already have to deal with me. Even the deodorized stuff is stinky as hell when you have a whole lot of it in close quarters to neighbors already on the edge of a full mob and pitchfork party. The “BC” liquid products are hydroponics liquids for weed. They’re readily available online. Micro Nutrient Chelates should be available at your local quality nursery(usually under the name “Chelated Iron(with other micronutrients)”, Humic acid is also easy to find online, I like Grandma Enggy’s.
I use a gigantic stand mixer with the bread dough attachment to mix all this together until its cookie dough thick and then press it into large hotel sheet pans.
Starting with 16 pounds of Cottonseed meal, I get 2500 cakes(5 pans) and the grand total cost is around 50$. Not too shabby. It would be cheaper and easier to take the Crataegus route, but I think the “all in one” fertilizers smell like, well, poo. These are completely odorless, and animals don’t steal them. I have raccoons, possums, you name ems, and they dont touch these!
If it has fish in it, this bastard will take it!
After pressing them into sheet pans, they get rolled with a pin, and cut with a pizza wheel.
Then it’s in to the double deck convection oven with a high fan, at 175 degrees for 2.5-3 hours. They won’t be completely dry at this point, but they’ll continue to dry as they cool when they come out of the oven. By quick drying in this way, the outside of the cakes will be dry as it gets, but the interior still a bit moist. This keeps them preserved while maintaining usability(moist cakes perform better, so it’s said).
And then it’s out of the oven. The cakes have shrunk a bit as they’ve lost moisture, and most barely need encouragement to break apart. I’ll break them up wearing a couple of pairs of latex gloves as soon as they come out of the oven and let them cool in a single layer at room temp.
Once cool, load them up! Start to finish, 4.5 hours, active time, 30 minutes. No weeks drying in the sun. No mixing with a paint stirrer. No smelly “deodorized” emulsion. And best of all? No Cleanup! Because dishwashers. So there’s that benefit of being a chef! I’ll be adding this as pastry skills to my resume, of course. 2500 Fertilizer brownies baked and ready to feed! Bring it on spring!
Thanks for reading!
Curious – what do the oats provide?
For one they act as an excellent binding agent, which allows me to use a little less flour(which I think is good because in the long run too flour can lead to soil cloggery). Like various other seed meals, oats provide small amounts of nutrients when broken down by microorganisms as well as micronutrients. I’ve also read Boon say that they help foster beneficial fungus, and, while I have no evidence of this, it seems likely given that oats and whole wheats are rife with the stuff.
Dude…remind me not to eat at your restaurant for a few weeks!
No worries about all that Brian. I mean, seriously, this equipment sees much much nastier stuff between raw grounds red meats, chicken, and shellfish than anything some cottonseed and blood meal may have in it….also, I’m not serving these brownies other than by special request.
This fertilizer cake recipe is fantastic. I tried it this year and you’re right, animals don’t touch them. All other bonsai cake recipes have ended in utter failure because critters instantly take them.
As for the recipe, The only part I will probably change from your recipe is to use “bc boost” rather than “bc bloom” because “bc bloom’s” micronutrient profile overlaps quite a bit with “bc grow.” I’m still not sure about the oats, but I have heard good things about carbs for bacteria, maybe steal the use of unsulphured blackstrap molasses that a lot of pot growers swear by.
Very cool David. I hadn’t heard the molasses tip before. I’ll try that this time around. The hydro guys also swear by some sugar in the form of a couple products I’ve seen like “Sugar Daddy”. Seems like molasses would also help with cohesion and breakdown. Good stuff.
When you talk about mixing “micronutrient chelates” with the water portion, what do you use?