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.