Organic vs Synthetic Chemical Fertilizers. For me, there’s no question that Organic, slow-release, complete fertilizing solutions are the best way to feed our gardens. In fact, we should be feeding our soil to feed our plants. A successful garden all starts with healthy, balanced, bioactive soil. In this article, I want to show you the benefits of Organic Fertilizers, how to use them, how much to use, and of course my top 5 organic fertilizer choices for this year. Enjoy, like, and share if you are Organic Gardening this year too!
Browsing your local nursery or garden center and you’ll see shelf after shelf and bottle after bottle of both organic and synthetic nutrient solutions.
Why to choose organic fertilizer (Benefits of organic fertilizer)
So what makes a grower like me choose an organic fertilizer over its synthetic counterpart? Well, there are three main reasons:
- Organic fertilizers are generally slow released and this has two main benefits itself and that the nutrients tend to stay in the soil longer, meaning they’re less likely to get flushed away when it rains or when you water. As well for the most part you can’t damage your crops by over fertilizing. They simply won’t burn or toxify your soil like chemical nutrient solutions can do.
- Organic fertilizers tend to have secondary nutrients and micronutrients beyond your typical npk. Remember your npk is your nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium nutrient ratio, usually displayed on every fertilizer you buy. These three macronutrients are required by all plants to thrive and grow in quantities greater than any other element. But organic fertilizers have these extra trace minerals and micronutrients that tag along with the main ones. Just as we cannot live on one or two foods alone plants need a wide variety of chemical compounds and minerals to perform and look their best.
- They often improve the soil structure. These organic amendments can increase the flow and movement of both water and air as well as build up the biological activity of your soil profile rather than interfere with it. Feed your soil to feed your plants.
And with that let’s dive in and look at the top five organic fertilizers that you should be adding to your garden and your soil this year.
Top 5 organic fertilizer for vegetable garden
1. Alfalfa Meal (Organic fertilizer)
This wildly popular garden amendment comes in both powder and pelleted form. Alfalfa meal is a great all-around nutrient boost for your soil, coming in at around 3-1-2 on that NPK scale.
In addition, alfalfa is known to contain the natural growth hormone and stimulator triacontanol. This fatty alcohol will turbocharge your young plants and kickstart their growth to new levels.
I use alfalfa either the powder or the pellets at a rate of about one pound per 10 to 12 square feet of garden area. I work it into the mulch or the top layers of the soil either in the spring or the fall.
Conversely, if you’re container gardening your veggies this year you can mix it right into your potting soil at a rate of about three tablespoons per gallon.
2. Canola Meal
This organic fertilizer is also an all-around good mix, canola meal is a bit more hyped up on nitrogen coming in at a 7-2-2 npk. I use canola meal in applications where I’m after pure vegetative growth, you know like in lettuces, spinaches, or kales.
Application is much the same as alfalfa meal just work it into your top layers of soil or mulch in the spring or in the fall. So a bit quicker release than alfalfa meal and a bit higher in nitrogen.
The ideal rate is about one pound for 20 square feet of garden space or two tablespoons per gallon of potting soil.
3. Rock Phosphate
This pelleted soil additive is a pure source of phosphorus coming in at 0-3-0. It’s mined from phosphorus-rich clay deposits and it releases its namesake nutrient at a slow even rate throughout the entire growing season, to the obvious benefit of our plants.
I use at a rate of one pound per 20 square feet of garden area or like canola meal two tablespoons per gallon of potting mix. It comes in black or white pellets which are identical products other than the color.
4. Seaweed organic fertilizer
It is used by farmers for thousands of years, the ocean’s algae come in three distinct taxonomic groups based on color. Green algae, brown algae, and red algae, while radically different in appearance they’re all nutrient powerhouses containing 60 or more naturally occurring trace elements and minerals.
This list of beneficial compounds contained in seaweed makes it the literal storage house for nutrients. In addition to that, all seaweed is known to contain natural growth stimulants and growth-promoting substances.
These compounds can not only elevate your plants but also fortify and protect them throughout their life cycle. If you’re buying seaweed extracts from the store just follow the instructions on the bottle, but if you’re lucky enough to live close to the ocean you can make your own teas and powders with seaweed that you collect right off the beach.
Made from the decomposition of kitchen scraps and yard waste, compost is in essence the ultimate soil amendment.
Compost will benefit your garden in three key ways:
- The original slow-release all around soil amendentment and nutrient boost.
- Helps to condition the soil by improving its structure with increased organic matter.
- Add back into your garden valuable soil microbes and bacteria.
There’s no limit to the rate at which you can apply compost as it’ll never burn or harm any of your crops. I tend to add it to my garden beds three to four times a year and for my potting soils it makes up around a third or more of the base mix, every time I make my own batch.
If you haven’t noticed already I’ve deliberately left off any animal-based fertilizers or amendments from this list. With the rise and outbreaks of both E. coli and Salmonella on grocery store vegetable recalls recently I’m really trying to steer clear of animal waste or byproducts, both in my life and my garden. With so many plant-based and organic alternatives, it just seems unnecessary at this point.
All right I know there’s way more out there and if you didn’t see your favorite organic amendment on this list make sure to leave it in the comments down below.
Hey, thanks so much for reading guys. I appreciate the support more than you know and if you’re getting value from this article please share this to spread the word and help your fellow gardener to grow better.