Choosing an Organic Fertilizer
Natural fertilizers are the best way to get back to nature in organic gardening. These fertilizers can help you have a healthier, productive garden and increase soil microbes.
The first thing to consider when choosing an organic fertilizer is what type of nutrients it contains. Many fertilizers are made from a combination of animal-based and plant-based ingredients. These materials are formulated to provide a balance of macro- and micronutrients, plus beneficial microbes that help make the nutrients available for plants.
Organic fertilizers typically contain a mix of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen (N-P-K). Nitrogen is a highly volatile and quickly degraded nutrient that is needed in small amounts for proper plant growth. For healthy plant growth, phosphorus and potassium must be present at varying levels.
Some organic fertilizer also contain trace elements that aren’t found in most conventional fertilizers. Rock phosphate is an excellent source for phosphorus and other minerals, which can be hard to find in conventional fertilizers.
If you’re interested to try organic fertilizers, be sure to look for labels that have “N – P-K ratio 12-11-2 or “N -P K 0-3-3.” These are the ingredients that are mixed together to give your plants a balanced feeding that will last several years.
These fertilizers are gentler on soil and are less likely be to burn the roots of tender plants than chemical fertilizers. Ross Penhallegon (horticulturist at Oregon State University Extension Service) says that these fertilizers don’t contaminate the soil or cause salt build-ups that could affect plant growth.
Organic fertilizers come in liquid, granular and other forms. They can be used indoors and outdoors. Some fertilizers are applied to the soil as slow-release formulas, while some are sprayed directly on the plants for a quick rush of nutrition.
There are many organic fertilizers that you can choose from, including compost and manure. These granular formulations combine animal and plant proteins. They are broken down over time by soil microbes to release nutrients.
Other organic fertilizers can be made from slurry or worm castings, peat and seaweed, as well as other naturally occurring plant and animal residues. Some are a combination these and manufactured fertilizers which have been formulated in order to provide a balanced mixture of essential nutrients.
Espoma’s Biotone organic fertilizer blend is one of our top picks. It includes feather meal, chicken manure, bone meal and greensand.
The Espoma Bio-tone nutrient mix is designed to improve nutrient uptake and stimulate the development of healthy, vigorous roots for optimal plant health and yield. It also improves plant growth by increasing soil organic content and soil aeration.