If you’re like most farmers and gardeners, your plants could probably use an extra boost from time to time. Instead of relying on chemical fertilizers that take their toll on the environment and your health, you can easily find natural and organic fertilizers that work just as well (without any of those pesky side effects).
To reduce the amount of fertilizer your plants need, you should initially add organic compost to your soil to add nutrients, increase drainage, and boost your plants’ immunity.
Commercial organic fertilizers almost always indicate what they’re made of on the packaging, namely nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Nitrogen helps plants grow foliage, phosphorous helps plants grow roots and flowers, and potassium helps boost overall plant health. Dry organic fertilizers often consist of kelp, rock phosphate, or nutrient-rich seaweed, and they can be applied by raking it into the top layers of soil. Liquid organic fertilizers, like compost tea and seaweed extract, usually come in spray form and give plants quick nutrient boosts on a regular basis during growing season.
Our very own Fish fertilizer, a highly-concentrated powder, is most effective when applied below the surface of the soil and poured into small holes near the plant’s roots. Farmers have been using 100% natural bat guano to fertilize their crops for hundreds of years because of its high humus content and soil-building properties. Natural fertilizer made from giant sea kelp is popular in the lawn maintenance industry, and it has also proven effective for trees, shrubs, and vegetables. Alfalfa meal, derived from alfalfa plants that are pressed into pellets, is a great fertilizer for growing roses in your garden. Corn gluten meal, cottonseed meal, and soybean meal are similarly produced and are particularly beneficial to nitrogen-loving plants. Although all of these fertilizers come from different sources, each of them is completely based in naturally-occurring plant and animal products.
If you have a small yard or garden, you even may be able to create your own cost-free fertilizers at home. Banana peels help restore potassium to the soil, and acid-loving plants like blueberries and tomatoes can benefit from your leftover coffee grounds. Washed and crushed eggshells can provide plants with the calcium they need to prevent blossom end rot, and mixing molasses in compost tea can increase beneficial bacteria and microbe populations in the soil.
As you can see there are plenty of ways to get creative with organic fertilizers, no matter what you’re growing outside. Not only are organic fertilization methods healthier for your family and the earth, they can actually save you a lot of money as well. To learn more about homemade organic fertilizers, check out Steve Solomon’s article on Mother Earth News.