Do you want to start a vegetable garden but aren’t sure whether you should use an organic fertilizer or a synthetic one? Perhaps you are leaning towards the second option simply because you find the alternative too smelly. However, did you know that inorganic fertilizers can potentially kill your plants and ultimately ruin your beloved garden?
There is a common misconception that inorganic fertilizers are better for the soil compared to the natural variety. Although synthetic products may show quick results, most home gardeners are unaware that the chemicals in these fertilizers can turn the soil acidic, thus burning the foliage and destroying the roots. Moreover, the run-off from chemical fertilizers can boost algae growth in lakes and rivers.
Therefore, to help you adopt more sustainable gardening practices, we have put together a handy guide that will tell you everything that you need to know about using organic fertilizers.
What Is an Organic Fertilizer?
Organic fertilizers are made from natural ingredients such as plants, animal waste, and rock minerals. They may also include dried animal blood, food scraps, ground bones, guano, crushed crab shells, pulverized fish, phosphate rock, and wood chips, among other organic materials.
It is worth mentioning that you may find some of these products in synthetic fertilizers. Nonetheless, unlike the organic variety, the inorganic options also include a large number of chemical additives that contribute to salt build-up in the soil and can harm your plants.
What to Look For When Buying Organic Fertilizers
Some brands choose to include the word “organic” on the label without reducing harmful ingredients in their product.
In other words, even if your local garden center has placed a specific brand of garden fertilizer in its organic section, please make sure to carefully check the list of ingredients on its back to ensure you are making the right choice.
One important property to pay attention to is the N-P-K ratio. The N-P-K ratio represents the percentage by volume of fertilizer that is nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is important that the amount of these elements in the fertilizer are not too high. Even if they are present in the fertilizer, it is a good idea to only buy fertilizers that don’t exceed 15% of each of these elements. In addition, it may be good to buy a fertilizer that has the words “slow-release” or “low analysis” printed on the label.
Types of Organic Fertilizers
There are three main types of organic fertilizers:
• Animal-based fertilizers
• Plant-based fertilizers
• Mineral fertilizers
Animal-based fertilizers typically comprise crushed animal bones, powdered animal blood from slaughterhouses, droppings from livestock, seabird guano, decomposed and emulsified fish, as well as broken shells of shellfish and crabs, among other materials. Meanwhile, plant-based fertilizers include compost, cottonseed meal, alfalfa, seaweed, and soybean meal, to name a few ingredients. The mineral fertilizers usually consist of crushed mineral rocks and clay.
Each of these rich natural materials helps keep the plants healthy by providing them with the required nutrients. Furthermore, you can find different types of organic fertilizers in liquid, or powder forms.
Advantages of Using Organic Fertilizers
Are you still wondering if it would be a good idea to use organic fertilizer in your garden?
Here are some of the most significant benefits of organic fertilizers.
Improved Soil Structure
The high level of natural matter in organic fertilizers improves the chemical and biological properties of the soil. Organic fertilizers also stimulate microbial activity and provide micronutrients to the plants.
It is also worth mentioning that organic fertilizers make the soil easier to till. So, if you are planning to plant new vegetables or fill your garden with beautiful flowers, you should consider opting for an all-natural fertilizer.
Season-Long Supply of Nutrients
Unlike their synthetic counterparts, organic fertilizers are typically not water-soluble. Consequently, they release nutrients at a slow pace, providing plants with consistent and easy-to-digest nourishment throughout the season. Put simply, you won’t have to feed your garden as frequently to see the desired results.
The organic matter also reduces the chances of salt build-up in the soil and makes your plants more self-reliant. Instead of waiting for you to feed them a synthetic fertilizer every few days during the growing season, your plants will be able to absorb micronutrients from the soil whenever they need to.
Increased Moisture Retention
Organic fertilizers can help increase the porosity of the soil, allowing it to filter water during heavy rains and retain moisture during dry periods.
If the soil can hold more water, it will provide plants with consistent and constant nourishment. An increased water-holding capacity also enables the ground to retain more nutrients, which can help promote new growth and even encourage plants to produce flowers.
Organic Matter is Environmentally Friendly
These slow-release natural products are environmentally friendly as they do not comprise harmful chemicals, acids, and other potentially toxic materials. In addition, all the materials in organic fertilizers are completely natural and renewable, making them an excellent choice for gardeners seeking to follow a more sustainable way of living.
The Bottom Line
Starting a vegetable garden can be an excellent idea for those looking to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. After all, it will put you in charge of what goes into the soil while cutting down on the agricultural practices harming the environment. However, if you want to grow your vegetables organically, you should consider switching the widely available synthetic fertilizers with organic compost or manure.
There are several advantages of using organic fertilizers. For example, they can help your plants stay strong and healthy by improving the soil’s structure. Additionally, they can provide your garden with consistent nourishment all through the growing season.
If you are interested in learning more about organic fertilizers or are looking for eco-friendly gardening recommendations, stay tuned to HomeOrganic. You can also get in touch with us to share your feedback and queries.