Proper way to store stinky fertilizer
November 5, 2011 9:35 PM   Subscribe

I am a new homeowner and need to know how to store bags of fertilizer so they don't stink up my yard. I know that this may seem like a silly question, but please bear with me. I am a first time home owner and for the first time in my life I have to figure these things out. My home has a big garden and lawn. I am in southern California so it is used weekly by my gardener at this time. I have hired to previous owner's gardener since he is so familiar with the care of the many different plants in the yard. The previous owner kindly left me with big bags of fertilizer which the gardener has started to use. They are propped up against the back of the garage and after a couple of rainstorms, it has gotten REALLY STINKY. Like, I was wondering if previous owner was hiding a body in the yard before I realized it was the fertilizer! Ha!

1) Is the fertilizer still good or should I replace with new bags of dry fertilizer? It isn't the kind that has time released capsules in it but it does seem to have hardened into a big clump. Is it something that I should get rid of and replace regularly?

2) What is the best way to store fertilizer? I can't afford to buy a shed for the yard just yet and I don't really want to put something so stinky inside the garage. Is a deck box or plastic storage container appropriate? Does it need to be able to "breathe" because of gas buildup?

I know the solution is probably very obvious but searching google for "fertilizer storage recommendations" and the like turned up nothing.

Thanks mefites! Help educate a newbie to the world of gardening!
posted by dottiechang to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
You probably figured out now that they should be kept dry. A good way to keep them dry temporarily is to get a few bricks as legs and a few short 2x4 planks to create a "deck". Spread a tarp on this deck, stack the bags on, then wrap the tarp all the way around them to water-proof them. On top, cover them with some impermeable plastic sheets held down with more bricks. That will keep your stuff dry for a few rain falls.
posted by curiousZ at 9:54 PM on November 5, 2011

If they're still selling big metal garbage cans, they're wonderful for storing stuff like that. I've used them for storing horse and goat grain and chicken feed, as well as fertilizer and potting soil (separate cans, obviously). They work very well.
posted by aryma at 1:01 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wonderful, metal cans (Oscar the Grouch style!) sound like an affordable and discrete way to store my fertilizer! The bricks and plank deck sound even more affordable, but I like the idea of hiding it away a bit more.

Since the stuff I have got rained on, do I need to replace it? I know that will sound like a stupid question to avid gardeners, but I really don't know. Does fertilizer go bad/rancid? I know, its poop, but I just want to be sure.
posted by dottiechang at 1:44 AM on November 6, 2011

If water gets in the bags of fertilizer, yes, most fertilizers can go bad (especially slow release fertilizer that is activated by the water). Ammonia-enriched fertilizers have a life span, but I think it's about a year.
posted by fireoyster at 1:59 AM on November 6, 2011

I know, its poop, but I just want to be sure.

Oh, it's manure rather than fertiliser? Sure, it's fine. It still prefers to be kept dry and the cans are a great idea, but it's just biodegrading in the normal way and will continue to do so when you put it on the soil.
posted by shelleycat at 1:15 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, talk to the gardener about it. If he knows how to take care of the plants then he should also know what kind of fertiliser it is and how it should be used and treated.
posted by shelleycat at 1:16 AM on November 6, 2011

If it's granular fertilizer, it's probably solidified into a big solid mass that won't go through a broadcast spreader now. You can dispose of it at your local hazardous waste facility. If it's compost or manure, it's fine. You can store it inside a deck box. The cheapest option is to get a plastic 5-gallon bucket with a well-sealed lid and store it in there.

If we're taking about manure, it's probably extra stinky because it's wet. You could have it dumped in a far corner of your yard to dry out. It will still work as a soil amendment.
posted by Ostara at 1:40 PM on November 6, 2011

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