Microbes and plants need nutrients. That’s where organic fertilizers come in.
We can supply most of these nutrients through good mulches and well-made compost, but not only do we need the nutrients, we need them in specific amounts in relation to each other.
That’s why we use a small amount of specific organic fertilizers, to move towards these ratios. Organic matter generally can’t do it alone, so this is a vital step.
And then there are other broad-spectrum organic garden fertilizers, sometimes called biostimulants, that provide the crucial micronutrients that microbes and plants need.
In the long run, you’ll get higher yields by applying less organic fertilizers. You just need to apply the right ones, and that’s why a soil test is so crucial as one of the tools that helps you decide which fertilizers to apply.
In 2008, I started The Organic Gardener’s Pantry to sell organic gardening fertilizers. I moved in 2010, but my friend Christina still has the business going strong.
And one of the bonuses of getting these organic gardening products out into the world was that I was able to see how effective they could be since I had hundreds of clients using them.
Nowadays, I use a small number of mineral organic fertilizers that are mined naturally without the use of chemicals, and other fertilizers that come from plants and the sea (and no, I don’t use miracle gro organic garden soil or fertilizers).
Here are all of my articles on organic fertilizers…
I’m a big fan of organic liquid fertilizer.
But there’s also an important use for organic dry fertilizer.
I use liquid fertilizers mainly to provide small amounts of 80+ nutrients directly as a plant fertilizer, and also as a soil fertilizer.
Doing this plays a big part in helping me grow nutrient-dense food.
And yet some nutrients we need in the soil more than others, the big three in the organic world being calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
We need to have enough of them in the soil, but not too much.
(I know that npk fertilizer is stressed in the conventional world, and yes, nitrogen fertilizer is sometimes useful too, but it’s really not all that hard to get enough nitrogen – calcium is much more important to get right, so that’s my focus today).
The benefits we get when we move those three minerals in our soil towards the ideal amounts are many: healthier plants, fewer pests and weeds, better soil structure, etc.
I felt very lucky to spend this past week vacationing with my family on Hilton Head Island.
I recently started selling my favorite organic liquid fertilizers, the same ones I use at home.
But I also like to make my own homemade liquid fertilizer when possible, and that’s what I’m excited to show you today.
Many of our best liquid fertilizers come from the ocean.
But there are ways you can approximate them, if like me, you don’t live near the ocean.
All of these can be used as a liquid lawn fertilizer, liquid plant fertilizer and liquid soil fertilizer.
You might even make enough for multiple applications (such as monthly or weekly).
For all of these homemade fertilizers, I suggest mixing with at least 10 parts water before you spray.
That will allow the fertilizer to cover more area, and will ensure we don’t burn our plants.
The least expensive organic fertilizer in the world is – cover crops!
Cover crops for gardens are simply plants that are planted to cover your soil, especially during the off season.
And they can also be used during the growing season, interplanted with food crops or even in ornamental beds.
There are a handful of very useful natural organic fertilizers for you to choose from, especially if you look online.
The hard part is knowing which ones to choose, but I’ll give you a few things to look for.
Natural organic fertilizers don’t look like much of a bargain compared with the high nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium numbers on chemical fertilizers, but they’re so much more valuable.
Welcome to the first of three steps on how we can learn from nature when it comes to improving garden health, especially organic soil health.
(You’ll see me swatting at mosquitoes and these other biting bugs here and there – they sure were thick when we got deep into the jungle).
All three steps are equally important, but the first I tend to think about is balancing soil minerals, the main reason being that I want to get a soil test analyzed as soon as possible when I’m working on a new garden because it can take a couple of weeks to get results.
10-10-10 fertilizer is certainly one of the most popular fertilizers. This week, I received a great question about the nutritional difference between it and compost:
Most bags of compost and manure say they have about .1-.1-.1 of the big 3. I have tested my own compost and it is somewhat higher but still not in the 10 10 10 range recommended for most plants. So, how do you get enough without using fertilizers? Is 10-10-10 the same as .1-.1-.1? Am I missing something?
I’m really glad you asked. There are 3 things I’d like to address…
Today I continue with the garden fertilizer tips.
Last week, I outlined a basic fertilizer schedule and received a couple of comments from people who disagreed with my suggestions, so I thought I’d address their concerns here in more detail.
I always appreciate any feedback people have to give, even when it runs counter to my advice. Some great learning opportunities come when we have these discussions.
If you want a fertilizer schedule to follow, I have some tips for you.
Fertilizer companies often create a schedule for you that outlines exactly when to fertilize, but that’s often done to maximize their revenue, not the health of your garden.
The thing is, there’s no such thing as an off-the-shelf fertilizer schedule that is right for every garden. We can, however, follow some well-established guidelines.
Mining limestone is big business, but does it give us a sustainable fertilizer?
The world’s biggest limestone quarry is right near the top of the state of Michigan on Lake Huron. It’s 7000 acres, roughly half the size of Manhattan.
I’m not sure how much of the material from this particular quarry goes toward agriculture, but lime is one of the most important fertilizers in organic gardening.