This is a guide to common materials that can be used as an organic fertilizer for your garden. Fertilizers made with synthetic chemicals have a lot of negative side effects- they mess with the ecosystem of the soil, they are harmful to people and pets, and they are damaging to the environment. Fertilizing your garden organically is a good move, and this article will help you learn to do that.
WHY FERTILIZER IS IMPORTANT
Plants need certain nutrients to live and grow. To get these nutrients, they take them out of the soil. This leads to a depletion of nutrients in the soil, and fertilizer is used to replace these nutrients.
There are 3 main groups of nutrients that plants need in the soil:
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- Primary nutrients (which plants need in large quantities): Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K).
- Secondary nutrients (which plants need in smaller quantities): Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfur (S).
- Micronutrients (which plants only need in trace amounts): Zinc (Zn), Iron (Fe), Boron (B), Manganese (Mn), Chlorine (Cl) and Molybdenum (Mo).
If a plant doesn’t receive these nutrients in the amounts they need, they will not reach their full potential, and may even die. For your garden plants to be their best, a constant supply of fertilizer is a must.
MATERIALS THAT CAN BE USED AS FERTILIZER
Here are some common materials that can make a great fertilizer. Some provide a very balanced mix of nutrients, and others will give you a few specific nutrients where you can target a deficiency.
Material from Compost
The single best thing you can do for your garden is to build a compost heap and use it to supply you with a great fertilizer. Composted material will supply your garden with a very good mix of the nutrients it needs. For best results, make sure you put both green materials (things like kitchen scraps, which are high in nitrogen) and brown material (things like dried leaves and shredded cardboard, that are high in carbon).
A cool variation on the traditional compost heap is worm composting. Adding certain worms to your compost will help break the organic material down quicker, so where a normal compost heap would take months, a worm composter will take mere weeks.
The um… leftovers from chickens don’t have to be just a smelly mess. Their droppings can be used as an effective, fairly balanced fertilizer for your garden. If you have them as pets, don’t let this valuable resource go to waste!
Dried coffee grounds can be sprinkled into your soil to supply nitrogen, potassium and magnesium. Remember though that they will increase the pH of your soil.
Ash from Your Fireplace
Fireplace ashes can be sprinkled onto your soil to supply potassium and calcium carbonate. This too will increase the pH of your soil.
Epsom salt can be added to your soil to supply magnesium and sulfate. This is especially important with tomatoes, potatoes, and roses.
Powdered Egg Shells
These can be sprinkled onto your soil to increase calcium carbonate (also known as “lime”).
Mixing seaweed and water and letting it sit or a few months will supply you with a fertilizer high in potassium.
Adding these will supply nitrogen. They will also decrease the pH of your soil.
Using these common items as fertilizer for your soil will give you a cheap and easy alternative to synthetic chemical fertilizers, and in a small way help to make the world a healthier place.
Good luck and stay prepared!
Visit RamboMoe’s blog, Prepared For That, where he often writes helpful how-to articles.
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