Tag Archive | "compost"

Types of Organic Fertilizers and Compost

Fertilizing your plants may not be quite as simple as it would be if you used chemicals in your garden. Chemical fertilizers are certainly convenient. Most of them come in a form that only needs to be mixed with water and sprayed onto plants. But organic gardeners need a good, organic way of fertilizing their plants.

You need to pay careful attention to the package if you’re going to purchase a pre-made organic fertilizer. Some of them are high in one of the major plant nutrients, but low in the other two. Plants generally need nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash. You should research which of these nutrients your particular plants need, so you can purchase the correct type.

Some common types of organic fertilizers include blood meal, fish emulsion, cottonseed meal, compost, manure, and seaweed fertilizer. Many of these can be purchased, but a lot of them can also be made at home.

You must be careful to fertilize when the ground is warm enough. Organic fertilizers need organisms in the soil to break them down and release the nutrients they contain. So the soil needs to be warm and moist so the organisms in the soil will be active.

Cottonseed meal is one common organic fertilizer. It’s a byproduct of the cotton manufacturing process. It is great for acid-loving plants, because it has an acidic reaction in the soil. It generally contains about 7% nitrogen, 3% phosphorous, and 2% potash. Cottonseed meal is usually used for flowering plants like azaleas and rhododendrons.

Fish emulsion is a very popular organic fertilizer. It is made of a blend of decomposed fish. It is a high-nitrogen fertilizer, and also contains a lot of trace elements than can be very beneficial for plants. Fish emulsion is a nice, balanced fertilizer.

Blood meal is the blood of cattle that is collected from slaughterhouses and then dried and powdered. It is high in nitrogen, and care must be taken to ensure it doesn’t burn plants. You should be very careful not to exceed the recommended dose, because this could really harm your plants. Blood meal is also high in several trace elements like iron.

Manure is a well-balanced fertilizer, but it is relatively low in the nutrients it contains. It’s a very popular fertilizer, but it just isn’t high enough in these important nutrients to make it a viable choice for home gardeners.

Seaweed fertilizer in the form of a seaweed tea is often used by organic gardeners. Dried seaweed is added to water and steeped like tea, then applied to plants like other liquid fertilizers. This can be a very good fertilizer, and won’t burn plants. It is very high in nutrients. Use a dried seaweed, and be sure it’s not roasted or seasoned.

Some people use sewer sludge for their fertilizer. It’s made from recycled material from sewage treatment plants. You can purchase activated sludge, which is higher in nutrients, and you can buy composted sludge, which isn’t quite as good.

It is generally found in a granular form. There is some concern over the safety of sewage sludge, because it can contain buildups of heavy metals like cadmium. This can build up in the soil in potentially harmful levels.

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Making Organic Compost

Organic compost is the best material to grow your plants in. Compost is the type of soil plants really love to grow in, because it’s made from lots of great organic material. It’s the safest kind of material to grow your plants in.

You’ll need to start with a base of material that is rich in carbon. You’ll need things like straw, dead flowers, shredded newspaper, and dried leaves. Some people forget to add these brown materials, but they’re essential.

Next, you need green materials that are high in nitrogen. These materials include things like kitchen waste from plants, animal manure, green garden clippings, and grass clippings. You can use all kinds of fruit and vegetable peelings and leftovers, but no meat!

Then you’ll need a little bit of soil from your garden. It’s important for you to remember that you should actually add a bit of natural soil to your compost to get it started. You’ll start by putting down a layer of your brown material.

This could be straw, dry leaves, or even shredded newspapers if you don’t have anything else. On top of that, you’ll add some of your green stuff, then a layer of soil. Then you’ll add more of your brown material to the top. Finally, you need to add water to these layers. Just moisten them, don’t drown them!

You’ll continue in this manner to add layers until you have a compost pile that is around 3 feet wide and 3 feet high. You should probably have a ratio of about three parts brown material to one part of green material. If your pile isn’t 3 feet tall yet, just keep adding material to it whenever you have it available.

About once every week or two, you should turn your compost pile. This means using something like a garden fork (a pitchfork) to stir your pile. You’ll want to work all of the stuff in the middle out toward the edges, and move the outer material inward toward the middle.

Be sure to keep your compost pile moist. It should never be soggy, but be sure not to let it dry out. If your compost pile gets too dry, it will stop decomposing properly. If you see steam coming up from your pile when you turn it, you can be pretty sure everything is decomposing properly.

You can add earthworms to your compost pile if you want. They’ll find the pile on their own, but you can speed the process up a big by adding some to the pile yourself. You can buy earthworms at a fishing bait store and use those.

You can also build or buy a bin to house your compost pile. This can help keep your pile neat and tidy, so it doesn’t spread out too much. You can also buy rotating compost bins that you can turn in order to mix your compost. These aren’t necessary, but they can make your job easier.

Once your compost turns into a rich, nearly black material, it will start to smell much better. Your new compost will smell a bit sweet. Once it turns black and starts to smell sweet, it’s ready to be mixed with your regular garden soil. In fact, you can use this rich compost as potting soil, usually with nothing else added. You can even replace most of the soil in your garden with this material, or use it in raised beds.

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