Organic Fertilizers for Home – Growing Gardeners

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Organic Fertilizers for Home – Growing Gardeners

Organic Fertilizers for Home - Growing Gardeners

The recent controversy on using chemical or inorganic fertilizers and its harmful effects on the environment has brought about the organic movement in the agricultural sector. For environmental and health reasons, more and more farmers and home growers have turned to organic fertilizers as the solution. As a result, the organic fertilizer industry has experienced a boom in its profits.

People, from the regular backyard growers to the big-time farmers, are buying organic fertilizers for their gardens and farms. But with all the attention shifting to organic fertilizers, buying them has become a confusing task, especially since there are several factors involved: N-P-K, organic matter content, moisture content, etc. To the average home grower, all these numbers and percentages in an organic fertilizer bag tend to become perplexing. This article is aimed to help you, the home grower, make an informed decision before buying organic fertilizers.

What to look for in An Organic Fertilizer

What does N-P-K mean?

There are three major nutrients that plants need in order to grow. These are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Organic fertilizers tend to have low percentages of these three elements (although some organic fertilizer manufacturers have supplemented this by placing additional nutrients). So when buying organic fertilizers, it is important to take note of the N-P-K analysis first.

For instance, a bag of organic fertilizer has an N-P-K analysis of 5-2-2. This means that organic fertilizer has 5% Nitrogen, 2% Phosphorus, and 2% Potassium.

The second thing to consider when buying organic fertilizers is the ingredients stated in the label. If you find that the organic fertilizer bag contains ammonium, demonstrate, urea, nitrate, or phosphoric acid, don’t buy it. This means that it is not an organic fertilizer you are holding, but an inorganic fertilizer.

Organic fertilizers are valued for their organic matter content. Organic matters inorganic fertilizers are important in developing the soil structure and encouraging microbial activity. Also, organic matter inorganic fertilizers help improve the soil’s nutrient and water holding capacity. Therefore, if you want your garden to be healthy, then look for organic matter content before buying an organic fertilizer.

Other important ingredients to look for inorganic fertilizers are the number of trace elements present in the bag. Plants need trace elements in organic fertilizers in order to sustain growth. Trace elements found in organic fertilizers are generally comprised of Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Copper, and Zinc.

It is also important to look into the raw materials used in making organic fertilizer. The richest source of trace elements among organic fertilizers is marine products, like seagrass and fish by-products. This type of organic fertilizer is practically a storehouse of trace elements and is also high in Nitrogen content. Other types of organic fertilizers are a bone meal and blood meal, which are excellent sources of calcium, protein, and soluble organic Nitrogen.

Organic Fertilizers for Home – Growing Gardeners

If you plan to plant a garden at home, you can easily grow one just like professional farmers, but without the chemicals.

There’s nothing like the taste of homegrown tomatoes. Regular grocery store produce sections have red globe-shaped vegetables that look like tomatoes, but they taste nothing like the real thing grown in your own garden. The same truth applies to most vegetables in grocery stores that are shipped in from faraway places or other countries. Unless you make regular trips to a farmer’s market or roadside vegetable stand, the only way to get that home-grown taste is to plant your own garden at home.

Many home gardeners choose to grow their own vegetables not only because they taste better, but also because they can control whether or not they are exposed to chemicals, fertilizers, or other toxic materials intended to make them grow faster, bigger, pest-free, or sturdier. Those substances may make the vegetables look better and last longer, but they can dramatically affect the nutritional value and definitely the taste.

Fertilizer is one of the most heinous offenders when it comes to making vegetables toxic. Everyone knows that when you buy vegetables from the grocery store you must wash them thoroughly before eating them, but even then there is only so much you can wash off because fertilizers are often applied from overhead by spraying. Instead of chemical fertilizers, it’s easy to find natural alternatives that work just as well and are much healthier:

Coffee Grounds and Ashes:

Believe it or not, one of the best mulches you can use around growing vegetable plants is a mixture of coffee grounds and wood ashes from your fireplace. This fertilizer provides a mixture of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous that help to make plants hardier and more tasteful.

Manure:

It doesn’t matter where you live, there is probably an excellent source of organic fertilizer just around the corner or down the street. If there is a cow pasture nearby, a riding stable, a petting zoo, or a pet store, just ask if you can have some manure to make your compost richer and more nutritious for your plants. Most places are more than happy to have you haul away their manure stockpiles because it saves them the time and trouble of cleaning up the manure.

Seaweed:

If you live near the coast, seaweed is an excellent way to fertilize your garden. Seaweed is richer in potassium and nitrogen than most manure mixtures, and most beach communities are thrilled to have people haul away the seaweed that clumps up on the shore interfering with the enjoyment of the beach. You may think that seaweed would be soggy and difficult to work with, but all you have to do is rinse it off. Pile it in a stack on your driveway or sidewalk, in a place where the water runoff will not affect your yard or garden. Leave it there for a couple of weeks so the rain will wash it down thoroughly, then you can just add it to your compost heap or work it into the garden soil in the fall.

Green Manure:

In the fall, after clearing out vegetables or flowers from your garden, you can sow a green manure crop such as winter rye or vetch. Plants such as these flourish in cool weather, thereby protecting your garden bed from weeds and erosion. Three or four weeks before planting in the spring, simply turn the winter crop over by digging it into the soil. As the plants decompose, they become fertilizer for the next crop by adding humus to the soil.

If you are careful to mix compost and home-grown organic fertilizers, you will be able to customize your garden beds specifically for the vegetables and flowers you’re growing. One of the best things you can do to ensure that your soil is exactly what you want it to be, you can have it tested. Soil tests are available from a state agricultural university if there is one in your area, or you can get one from a local Cooperative Extension office. The results of a soil test will tell you exactly what you need to do to fertilize your soil and add whatever trace elements are necessary. Knowing how your soil will perform for you will help you to give your plants exactly what they need to thrive and produce. There is nothing like home-grown vegetables, so taking the time to ensure that they have ideal conditions for growing happily will end up making you happy.

Where to Buy Organic Fertilizers 

Organic fertilizers are available anywhere from your local garden center to even online sources like Amazon Store. Here are three examples of online stores where you can purchase organic fertilizers at reasonable prices. Of course, these stores aren’t the be-all and end-all of organic fertilizers.

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