In an ideal world, everyone’s garden soil would deliver all of the nutrients that plants need to thrive. The reality is that soil balance is perpetually fluctuating, depending on what is being grown and which soil nutrients are being used.
Building healthy soil is the number one thing you can do to bolster and enhance your garden, and organic fertilizers will support your soil over time. By using organic fertilizers, you can infuse your soil with macro and micronutrients in an environmentally friendly way, encourage lush foliage and prolific blooms, improve soil structure, enhance root health, and support microbial life.
Check out the complete guide to organic fertilizers and discover how organic fertilizers can work for your garden now and in the future.
What Is Organic Fertilizer?
Organic fertilizers fortify the soil and are made of naturally occurring plant and animal materials. They do not include any harmful, chemical, or synthetic materials.
- Organic fertilizers are formulated from mined rock minerals, natural animal and plant materials.
- You’ll find ingredients like manure, guano, dried and powdered blood, ground bone, crushed shells, finely pulverized fish, phosphate rock, and wood.
- Organic fertilizers nourish the soil and microbial life within it, which is broken down by microorganisms to make nutrients available to plants.
- By using organic granular fertilizers and organic liquid fertilizers, you can rest assured that your garden and lawn are safe for the environment, your family, and your pets.
- Synthetic fertilizers merely feed the plants and actually rob the soil of nutrients, thereby demanding the perpetual need for more chemicals to attain the desired result.
- Organic fertilizers are relatively easy to apply and come in easy-to-use organic liquid fertilizers as well as slow-release granular types.
Best Organic Fertilizer
There is no doubt about it; using organic fertilizers over synthetic fertilizers is by far the best option for promoting a healthy garden for the long term. There are many choices on garden center shelves within the organic garden sector, which can be overwhelming.
Check out our list of top-notch organic fertilizers on the complete guide to organic fertilizers and discover what is suitable for your garden’s needs.
Specialty Organic Fertilizers
Specialty organic fertilizers will give you healthy plants and soil naturally. Healthy flowering plants, fruits, vegetables, citrus, cacti, and succulents all have different needs and they all have dedicated fertilizers to help you achieve optimal results.
There are many varieties of organic fertilizers which are specifically formulated to suit individual plant types. They gently feed plants and improve the soil over time by infusing the ground with essential nutrients and contain beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae.
Bonemeal is an organic soil amendment that is composed of steamed and finely ground animal bones. It is rich in calcium and phosphorous, which are essential to robust root development, disease prevention, and bolstering plant growth. Bonemeal also includes necessary micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and iron that boost plant health and benefit soil’s microbial growth. It comes in both powdered or granular formulas and will not burn your plants if you happen to overuse it.
Blood meal is a byproduct of slaughterhouses and is essentially dried animal blood. It is a water-soluble fertilizer that can be applied as a liquid. Its addition to soil increases nitrogen levels very efficiently. Nitrogen levels tend to fluctuate readily in soils, as many plants are heavy feeders of nitrogen. This is particularly beneficial if your planting beds are used year after year and are susceptible to nutrient depletion.
- Feeds vegetable plants that are heavy feeders of nitrogen. Such plants include asparagus, broccoli, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash, and tomatoes.
- Blood meal keeps plants fruiting, flowering, and encourages lush green foliage.
- Use the intense smelling blood meal fertilizer to deter deer, moles, or ground squirrels.
Alfalfa meal is a fantastic and economical organic fertilizer that replicates nature when applied. Alfalfa is a standard vegetable garden cover crop that fixes the soil with nutrients. So, if you are not in the practice of planting cover crops, you can still reap the benefits of having done so. Its nutrient content has a bit of nitrogen and potassium and is a wonderful early spring fertilizer to prep your soil for planting.
Kelp is a renewable resource from the ocean, and it is loaded with micronutrients that beneficial microbes crave and keep soil healthy and thriving.
If you are looking for an excellent organic fertilizer with no animal byproducts in it, a cottonseed meal is also a perfect choice. It is made from a byproduct of the cottonseed oil process and provides soil with about six percent nitrogen and some phosphorous and potassium. It also can act as a weed suppressant. If you add it to your garden bed in the fall months, the nutrients will be available to your plants come springtime.
Fish fertilizer adds beneficial nutrients to the soil that improves soil health and fertility organically, which bolsters the growth and health of plants. It is comprised of a comprehensive mix of macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as other micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, chlorine, sulfur, and sodium. Fish fertilizer is an all-purpose feeding option that can be used as a soil fertilizing additive, foliar spray, or added to your compost pile.
Bat guano is made from bat excrement. Bats feed on insects, and their feces contain a high nitrogen content and many other trace elements that are great for your soil and plants. It is fast-acting and helps boost the nutrient content in the soil for heavy-feeding vegetables. It can also be soaked in water and used as a nutrient-rich compost tea to be used as a foliar spray.
Composted chicken or cow manure is an excellent fertilizer for gardens. Just be sure that it is well-decomposed, or else it has the potential to burn plants as it decomposes.
Worm castings are fantastic and readily available organic fertilizers. Worms eat and excrete water-soluble nutrients and make those nutrients immediately available to plants. Worm castings are easy to apply and can make a significant difference in your soil health.
How & When To Use Organic Fertilizers
Before adding any fertilizers and amendments to your garden, consult your local extension office and obtain a garden soil test to find out the pH of your soil and any nutrients that your soil may be lacking. Once your soil test results are in, add the appropriate organic fertilizers from this complete guide to organic fertilizers before planting and every time you plant and throughout the growing season for continued soil and plant health.