A Menu of Organic Fertilizers

| 2/13/2012 1:18:07 PM

Tags: organic fertilizer, trace minerals, organic gardening, beyond compost and manure, David Wann,

Harmony Garden 2011 

Gourmet Treats to Feed Your Soil 

All fertilizers are investments, but some are more likely to give you reliable returns. Fertilizers that come directly from natural sources release a wide spectrum of nutrients slowly and steadily over a period of years, as opposed to the quick-release action of nitrogen-obsessed fertilizers that can wash away in the first heavy rain. If you choose to become an organic grower, you’ll inevitably become a broker in a stock market of materials that were once living, from alfalfa meal to manure to oak leaves. Your rewards are tangible: good yields, better health, and better flavor. (No wonder the last three White House chefs have cooked with organic produce.)

The overall strategy of organic growing is to feed the soil – not just the plants – with generous supplies of compost, manure, and side dishes such as alfalfa meal, bone meal, and rock phosphate – substances far more familiar and less destructive to soil organisms than concentrates that result in sub-surface boom and bust cycles. In a single wheelbarrow of fertile soil, there are more organisms than there are people on Earth, and they are an industrious lot! Organisms including bacteria, fungi, centipedes, beetles, and earthworms produce vitamins and antibiotics that promote growth and control disease; knit particles of organic matter together to create well-draining soil; and release carbon dioxide to help plants form new plant tissue. Good soil functions like an immune system; as long as beneficial organisms receive a high-quality diet they keep bad organisms in check.  But when overdoses of chemical fertilizers or a shortage of organic matter weaken the plants, the villains come after our plants. Soon enough, many growers then resort to pesticides.

A Well-Balanced Diet 

To find out if your garden soil needs a better diet, give it a check-up by sending a soil sample to your County Extension office. Or buy a simple test kit that will show levels of the basics: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and pH. In general, conventional fertilizers contain the “big three” nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium – but rarely contain dozens of other trace elements that support growth and prevent disease.  Standard garden crops like lettuce, corn and peppers prefer a pH just below neutral - 7 - while tomatoes, strawberries, and potatoes like an even more acid soil. If the pH level climbs above 7.3 as it sometimes does in my Colorado garden, it inhibits plant uptake of essential nutrients such as phosphorus.

7/17/2013 10:11:43 AM

Another really good source for the Alfalfa Meal, Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Compost Tea, Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate), Fish Bone Meal, Kelp Meal, Rock Phosphate, Worm Castings, and pH Up and pH Down is Kelp4less.com. They have seriously good prices and really fast turn-around time before you get your order. Also, awesome customer service. Here is a link to their Organic Products page - http://www.kelp4less.com/product-category/organic-fertilizers/ - hope that helps! They have good prices on the small quantities, too, not just bulk. :) Which is why I like them. 

9/2/2012 10:01:22 PM

Here is some interesting information on why grass fed organic beef is better for you and the environment: http://www.ferti-organic.com/products/humic-acid/

2/28/2012 1:22:22 PM

Great list! I agree that getting a soil test first is obviously very important, because you definitely don't want to go adding these fertilizers just for good measure, as that could move things further out of whack. I've found the home soil test kits aren't very useful, but there are a few good labs in the U.S. Thanks for the list.

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