Common Ground stocks the best variety of natural and organic fertilizers:

Fertilizer Shelf

Bu’s Blend Compost  1 cu. ft. & 12 qt
Baby Bu’s Malibu Potting Soil 1.5 cu. ft
Blue Ribbon Potting Soil 1.5 cu. ft
Chicken Manure Compost 1.5 cu. ft.
Cocoa Bean Hulls- great chocolate smelling mulch, repels snails and slugs 2 cu. ft
Soil Building Compost 1.5 cu. ft.
Straw Bales Bale
Organic Worm Compost 1 cu. ft.
Red Worms for Composting – shipped to you 1 lb.
Boxed and Bagged Fertilizers
 Bio-Live – beneficial bacteria  Boxed
Alfalfa Meal – good balanced fertilizer 25 lb
Azomite – good source of minerals and trace elements Boxed and 50 lb
Bat Guano – high in phosphorus 25 lb
Citrus and Avocado – slow release Boxed
Corn Weed Blocker – pre-emergent weed blocker and fertilizer Boxed and 25 lb
Cotton Seed Meal Boxed and 20 lb
Dolomite Lime – great source of calcium and magnesium Boxed
Feather Meal – high slow-release nitrogen source Boxed and 20 lb
Fish Meal – great source of nitrogen 20lb and 50 lb
Fish Bone Meal – good phosphorus source Boxed and 25 lb
Greensand – potash and breaks up heavy soil 25 lb
Granular Sulfur – helps reduce soil alkalinity Boxed
Humic Acids – ideal for vegetable gardens and turf Boxed
Kelp Meal – potash and minerals. 20 lb
Langbeinite – source of potassium, magnesium and sulfur Boxed
Oyster Shell Meal – calcium source 25 lb
Seabird Guano 20 lb
Soft Rock Phosphate 50 lb
Organic Soy Meal – great source of nitrogen Boxed and 20 lb
Acid Mix – great for blueberries & rhubarb Boxed and 25 lb
All-Purpose Boxed and 25 lb
Bio-Turf – Customer Favorite! 25 lb
Rose and Flower – promotes flowering Boxed and 25 lb
Tree & Shrub – with mycorrhizal root growth enhancer Boxed and 25 lb
Vegan Mix – balance all purpose for vegetables and ornamental’s Boxed and 25 lb
Pound Bulk Fertilizers
Alfalfa meal – a great source of nitrogen
Bat guano – high in phosphorus
Fish Meal – a great source nitrogen
Greensand – for potash and breaking up heavy soil
Kelp meal – for potash
Oyster Shell Meal – calcium source
Rock Phosphate – calicum & iron
Other Fertilizers
Maxicrop liquid Seaweed
Maxicrop Liquid Fish
Granular Root Growth Enchancer 2 oz
 Fox Farm Big Bloom – promotes flowering  Quart & gallons
 Liquid All Purpose  4-3-3  Quart & galllons
Bu’s Brew Biodynamic – compost tea bags 16 oz
Soil Tests: What does your soil need? What does it already have?
Soil conditions may vary from backyard to backyard. For the most efficient and effective use of organic soil amendments, a soil test is advisable, if possible. Even a simple test using a LaMotte soil test kit can help you to judge what your soil needs for 3 key elements. If you live in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto/Mountain View area and choose not to perform a soil test or have one done for you, the recommendations on p. 4 of this leaflet can help you to estimate the amendments to apply.

If you use a LaMotte soil test kit to test your soil, you should use the amendment recommendations for N, P, and K on p. 45 of How To Grow More Vegetables.

Especially for a garden of 500 sq ft or more, it is best to have a professional soil test performed. A very good soil testing service is:  “Grow Your Soil”  Own by John Beeby a former Common Ground / Ecology Action Staff. Trained as a soil Scientist at Cornall University.  Go to

Organic sources of N,P, and K

N, P, and K refer to the three main nutrients plants need: NITROGEN for green growth and in compost piles to speed decomposition; PHOSPHORUS for energy, root growth, disease resistance, and production of good fruits, vegetables, flowers and seeds; and POTASH for strong stems, vigorous roots and increased disease resistance.

Source Nitrogen (N) Phosphorus (P) Potassium (K) How Long does it last? Comments
Alfalfa Meal 2-3% 0.7% 2.25% 3-4 months A quick-acting source of nitrogen and some potash.Use up to 19 lb (163/4 qt) / 100 sq ft.
Phosphate Rock 33% 3-5 years Very slow-releasing Use up to 6 lb (22/3 qt) / 100 sq ft.
Soft Phosphate (Colloidal) 18% 2-3 years Clay base makes this phosphorus more available to plants than the phosphorus in phosphate rock, though the two are used interchangeably.Use up to 6 lb (22/3 qt) / 100 sq ft.
Kelp Meal 1% 12% 6-12 months Excellent source of potash, iron and other minerals. Kelp meal is also a natural fungicide. Cold-water kelp is preferable; warm-water kelp may contain toxic amounts of mercury and is not recommended. Use sparingly (1 lb [2/3 qt] / 100 sq ft) because it contains growth hormones.
Wood Ash 1-10% 6 months Ashes from wood are high in potash and help repel root maggots. Ashes also have an alkaline effect on the soil, so use them with care if your soil pH is above 6.5. Black wood ash is best. See p. 48 in How To Grow More Vegetables for more information on wood ashes.Use up to 1.5 lb (13/4 qt) / 100 sq ft.
Crushed Granite 3-5% Up to 10 years Slow-releasing source of potash and trace minerals.Use up to 8.5 lb (31/2 qt) / 100 sq ft.
Organic sources of calcium

Calcium helps break up clay and release nutrients tied up in alkaline soils. It is especially good for cabbage family crops (and can help keep your tomatoes from getting blossom end rot).

Eggshells High in calcium.
High-Calcium Lime (Calcite) A good source of calcium when magnesium levels are too high for dolomitic lime. Oyster shell flour is a good substitute. 1 qt = about 1 lb 14 oz.
Dolomitic Lime A good source of calcium and magnesium to be used for acid soils. In a clay soil, 8.75 lb of lime per 100 sq ft raises the pH one point. In a light sandy soil, 2.5 lb per 100 sq ft raises the pH one point. Do not use in soil with a sufficient or high magnesium level. Do not use lime to “sweeten” the compost pile as doing so will result in a serious loss of nitrogen. A layer of soil will discourage flies and reduce odors. 1 qt = about 3 lb 8 oz.
Organic soil modifiers (compost and such)

Plants also need HUMUS (with its organic matter and minerals) which is produced by decaying organic matter such as compost, manure, rice hulls and cover crops (compost crops). An alkaline soil can be brought closer to neutral by compost or manure. Compost has a buffering effect on soil, correcting both acid and alkaline conditions.

Compost Good compost is the most important part of the garden. It aerates the soil, breaks up clay, improves drainage, prevents erosion, neutralizes toxins, holds precious moisture, releases essential nutrients, and feeds the microbiotic life of the soil, creating healthy conditions for natural antibiotics, worms and beneficial fungi. Use up to one inch of compost which includes 50% soil by volume (8 cu ft [12 five-gallon buckets] / 100 sq ft) per four-month growing season, or up to 1/2 inch of compost (4 cu ft [6 five-gallon buckets] / 100 sq ft) if compost is made without soil.
Manure Solids Horse 0.7% N 0.2% P 0.7% K Age 2-3 months
Rabbit 2.4% N 1.4% P 0.6% K Age 2 months
Chicken, Fresh 1.5% N 1.0% P 0.5% K Age 2 months
Chicken, Dry 4.5% N 3.5% P 2.0% K Age 2 months
Sheep 1.4% N 0.5% P 1.2% K
Pig, Fresh 0.5% N 0.3% P 0.5% K
Dairy Cow 0.6% N 0.2% P 0.6% K
Steer 0.7% N 0.5% P 0.7% K Age 2 years
Manure is a source of organic matter in the garden. Nutrient levels depend on proper handling and the amount of straw or sawdust present. Large amounts of bedding may add up to 2 years to the decomposition time. Fifty pounds of manure dry weight (approx. 2 cubic feet [3 five-gallon buckets]) applied per 100 sq ft can lower the pH one point.
Gypsum Gypsum is not needed by organic gardeners and should be used only with the recommendation of an expert. It is normally used commercially in soils made impermeable by excess exchangeable sodium. 1 qt = abo
Our just go straight to our recommended General Fertilizer Program
(application rates are for 100 sq. ft.)
Functions Sources Choose one for each function. 1st & 2nd Yr Assuming
poor soil
3rd & 4th Yr or 1st & 2nd yr
in average soil
5th Yr or 1st yr
in good soil
Maintenance every year
thereafter (1)
Nitrogen (2) Alfalfa meal (2.5% N) 16 lb 10.5 lb 5 lb
Phosphorus Phosphate rock
6 lb 3 lb 2 lb
Soft phosphate 6 lb 3 lb 2 lb
Potash & Trace Minerals Kelp meal (3)
1 lb 1 lb 1 lb 0.25 lb
Wood ash (4)
2 lb 1 lb 1 lb 1 lb
Granite 8.5 lb 4 lb 2.5 lb
Microbiotic Life, Humus, Multiple Nutrients Compost
(or manure)
up to 8 cu ft
(each crop)
up to 8 cu ft
(each crop)
up to 8 cu ft
(each crop
up to 8 cu ft
(each crop)
Calcium Eggshells (4)
2 lb

1 lb

up to 1/2 lb up to 1/2 lb
Oyster shell 2 lb

1 lb

up to 1/2 lb up to 1/2 lb

Add all amendments after double-digging. For the first double-dig, compost may be added before double-digging; see How To Grow More Vegetables, pp. 10-12, 14).(1) Beginning with the 6th year, your legumes, compost crops and recycled plant material (in the form of compost) can provide most of your nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Double-check this periodically with a soil test.

(2) Nitrogen Å (% of protein) / 6.25. The 1st & 2nd Yr amounts will provide 0.4 lb pure N / 100 sq ft.

(3) For trace minerals: kelp meal is up to 33% trace minerals. Be sure to use cold-water kelp.

(4) Save your own.

(5) Top priority in typical adobe soil. Breaks up clay, improves drainage, releases nutrients and lowers pH.

(6) This amount of compost assumes a compost recipe that results in cured compost which contains 50% soil by volume. Eight cubic feet (12 five-gallon buckets) of cured compost will provide one inch of compost for 100 sq ft. Two cubic feet will provide 1/4 inch of compost for 100 sq ft. You can substitute aged manure for compost the first year if you do not have a ready source of compost; use half the amount recommended above.

Special Tips for Lawn and Fruit Trees
To revitalize an old lawn: Use 7 lb alfalfa meal, 4 lb soft phosphate, and 1 lb kelp meal per 100 sq ft. Apply in spring, and water well twice a week for 2 weeks. You should see results in 6 weeks.

Fruit trees: Use 2 heaping tablespoons alfalfa meal per foot of height, up to 4 lb soft phosphate per full-grown tree, and a light sprinkling of kelp meal (up to 1/4 lb per full-grown tree) around the drip line. Apply in spring when leaves first start to appear, and water in well. Growing compost crops around full-grown trees (keeping the crops 2 ft away from the trunk) is beneficial. Make compost without soil for fruit trees and other perennials, and use half the recommendation given in the General Fertilizer Program above.

Citrus trees: Same as fruit trees with the addition of 5 to 8 lb phosphate rock to full-grown trees once every 3 to 5 years. Line the planting hole with crushed red rock for a long-lasting source of iron.