A young plant growing in soilBy Richard Robinson, Farmer at Hopestill Farm

I love the NOFA bulk order, for its one-stop-shop convenience, for its good prices, and for how it knits together our far-flung community of gardeners, homesteaders and farmers—we all find something we like in the Bulk Order! 

I will be using my soil test as a guide for minerals I need, but if you haven’t got yours done yet, don’t despair—you can still order your amendments now! A soil test in the spring will help you create your amendment plan, or you can just use your garden sense to judiciously add what your plants are telling you they need. 

Here are five things I will be ordering for my gardens this year: 

Fast Nitrogen  

Organic gardens tend to be nitrogen-poor, even with liberal use of compost. This can be especially true at the start of the season, when the biologic activity that will eventually release what’s in the soil has yet to kick into gear. I order a bag of a fast-release nitrogen like blood meal for early crops that need it most, like onions and brassicas. I don’t use much, but sprinkled lightly and mixed in the top inch or two of soil, it really helps my transplants keep growing. 

Slow Nitrogen 

I also order a few bags of a slower-release nitrogen like feather or seed meal for more long-lasting supplement. I’ll spread some of this at planting time, and scratch in a side dressing midway through the season.  


Every time you harvest from your garden, you are removing potassium, and over time, if it is not resupplied, its depletion forms an ever-narrowing bottleneck for productivity. Fruits especially, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, melons, and squash, need potassium to fill out the fruit. I use my soil test results to judge how much I will need for the season, and then decide whether to meet that need with potassium sulfate or potassium magnesium sulfate (a.k.a. K-Mag or Sul-Po-Mag), or both. If my magnesium is low, I’ll include K-Mag as part of my order. If you have your own test results, you can use the table from my previous article to calculate how much you need. 


This is a multi-mineral (“A to Z”) amendment that provides some things your soil test isn’t likely to measure. The list of included elements in AZOMITE® is impressive. I know I don’t need everything in it, but I do like knowing I’m adding a small amount of many things, and I expect many organisms in my soil biota will find something they can use. 

Fort Vee Potting Soil 

I make my own soil block mix, but this year I will also be ordering some of Vermont Compost’s potting mix to compare. There is no question that for every gardener, especially the market gardener, the health of the seedling will determine the success of the crop. I will be testing how my mix compares to one of the best commercial mixes available. I’ll report on my results later in the season. 

Start your own wish list of gardening supplies and order from the NOFA Tri-State Bulk Order now.