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!
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!