Feed your garden what it needs to be healthy with these natural or organic fertilizers and soil amendments…
It stands to reason that a healthy garden needs plenty of healthy food, right? However, synthetic fertilizers can actually be comparable to “junk food” for your garden – they contain loads of fast-acting “calories,” without much else, which can lead to imbalances in your soil, and even a nasty buildup of chemical salts that may harm soil organisms and eventually even your plants.
Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, contain a more complete balance of nutrients. They break down more slowly in the soil, and release nutrients to your plants over time, which helps to avoid the risk of over-fertilization. They also improve your soil structure over time, helping it to become more permeable to water and nutrients, and feeding beneficial soil microbes which can help your plants to absorb nutrients more efficiently.
There are many different organic fertilizers you can use to help your garden grow, and the ones you choose should partly be based on which crops you are growing. Some organic fertilizers contain more of a specific nutrient than others, so you should try to tailor your fertilizer to your crops specific needs.
Here are 15 unique, cheap and readily available organic fertilizers and natural soil amendments to try in your garden when your plants need a boost (Note: Not all of these count as “certified organic,” so keep that in mind if you raise produce to sell.):
- Worm castings – Worm castings are soil superfood! They provide nitrogen and make soil absorbent. A huge number of beneficial microbes and bacteria are introduced to the soil, too.
- Tea – Tea and tea bags are excellent for your garden. As the bag and tea decompose, they release nitrogen. First, make sure your tea bag is compostable. You don’t want the ones made of polypropylene. If the bag is slippery, don’t use it in the garden. Tea also makes a great brew for acid-loving plants like azaleas and blueberries. Tea also helps deter some root maggots.
- Antacid Tablets – If your soil is low in calcium, this should be a go-to. It helps prevent blossom end rot in your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Push one tablet into the soil by the plant’s roots. Voila! Instant calcium boost.
- Newspaper – Makes a great mulch and soil amendment. The added bonus is that the soy-based ink kills diseases in the soil. It can be shredded or laid in a thick layer on your beds. It is best to wet the newspaper before applying. NOTE: Do not use the glossy inserts from the paper. The colored inks and finishes can be toxic.
- Urine – Yes, you read that right! Human urine is an excellent source of nitrogen. It is great to add to compost tea or your compost pile as an activator. Pathogens, disease, and toxins are quickly killed within 24 hours of leaving your body. Dilute the urine with water in a ratio 1::2 and water your plants.
- Citrus rinds – Stir those rinds right into the soil. As they break down, they’ll release sulfur, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and more nutrients. You can also dry the peels and grind them into a fine powder that can be added to the soil.
- Granite dust – Granite is made of volcanic rock. It is filled with more than 60 different elements, including potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Trace elements in granite make the soil nutrient dense. Be sure to read the label!
- Green manures – This is a favorite! Green manures are a fall cover crop that is grown on beds or pastures before or after crops or flowers to add nutrients back into the soil as they grow. They get turned under after their season. Some green manures include clovers, vetch, rye, and mustards.
- Grass clippings and Weeds – These are an excellent source of nitrogen and potassium for your fertilizer teas. Put the clippings in a 5-gallon bucket filled with water. Cover and let marinate for 3 to 4 weeks. You’ll have a lovely batch of “green” fertilizer tea.
- Chicken feathers – Feathers from your backyard chickens add nitrogen to your compost pile, and eventually, the garden. First, put them into your compost pile to let them decompose.
- Baking Soda – In order to sweeten tomatoes and discourage pests, lightly sprinkle baking soda on the soil.
- Compost – Compost is a great soil amendment and provides nutrients and micro-organisms to your soil. The microorganisms make the nutrients available for the plants to take up. If you want to make a tea, let the diluted mixture sit and grow for 12 to 24 hours with added aeration, by frequently stirring the mix or by using a water pump. The bacteria in the mix will explode in numbers making it a very potent source of micro-organisms. Click here to read more about boosting your compost pile.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – Your plants’ roots will thank you for a little extra oxygen. Mix 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with 2 cups of water. Water your plant’s roots with the solution.
- Blood Meal – Add crucial nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen to the soil by using blood meal to promote healthy plant growth…
- Fish Emulsion – Fish emulsion fertilizer is high in nitrogen but pretty stinky! It is also very acidic and should be used lightly to avoid burning plants. Nonetheless, fish emulsion acts immediately once it is applied, which makes it a good treatment for leafy greens that are suffering from low nitrogen levels. Be sure to experiment. Some plants may not tolerate it very well…
Check out the full article to find more ideas for fertilizing your garden at TheGrowNetwork.com…