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Boost blooms & banish blandness – Your guide to using organic fertilizers like a pro
Organic fertilizers contain natural materials, some of which can be sourced from the backyard. They contribute to the prolonged well-being of the soil, posing fewer risks to water supplies and the delicate microorganisms inhabiting the soil. Keep reading to explore different types of organic fertilizers and their appropriate usage.
Types of Organic Fertilizers
- Organic fertilizers typically fall into three main categories: animal-derived, plant-based, and mineral-based.
Let’s explore each one in detail.
- Plant-based fertilizers, particularly compost, are among the simplest to produce at home. Compost can be made from kitchen scraps, yard trimmings, grass clippings, and other plant-based materials. The N-P-K ratio of compost varies based on its composition but is generally around 1-1-1, providing a well-balanced additive for gardens. Beyond its role as a fertilizer, compost enhances soil texture, promoting better water absorption.
Other plant-based fertilizers include kelp or seaweed meal, corn gluten meal, and alfalfa meal. Corn gluten meal is commonly applied to lawns and has shown weed-suppressing properties in addition to fertilization benefits. A noteworthy category of plant-based fertilizers is cover crops planted before or after a main crop in a vegetable bed. These crops minimize water run-off, prevent erosion, boost soil organic matter, and aid nutrient retention. Some, like clover, contribute to nitrogen fixation, enhancing its availability to plant roots.
- Among the well-known organic fertilizers, animal by-products are a prominent category. Manure, derived from animals such as horses, cows, rabbits, or chickens, is widely utilized. Additionally, bat guano and worm castings (manure) are highly valued resources for garden enrichment. Various animal by-products include meals derived from bones, blood, or feathers of commercially slaughtered animals.
Fish emulsion and products containing shellfish are also used as fertilizers. The N-P-K ratio of animal-based fertilizers varies. Chicken manure, for instance, has an approximate ratio of 3-2.5-1.5, while cow manure presents a ratio of 1-1-1. Seaweed contributes a balanced ratio of trace minerals, and blood meal is nitrogen-rich, promoting early-season growth.
- Mineral-based products are frequently utilized to address specific issues in gardening. One prevalent scenario involves soil pH, where the soil may lean towards acidity or alkalinity. Most gardens are around neutrality (pH 7.0). However, when aiming to cultivate acid-loving plants like blueberries or hydrangeas, altering the pH becomes essential.
Aluminum sulfate is used to lower pH, and lime to increase it. Rock phosphate is another common mineral-based fertilizer that enriches the soil with phosphate. Greensand is extracted from the ocean floor and contains iron oxide, magnesia, lime, and various trace minerals, fostering plant growth.
How to Apply Organic Fertilizers?
- Organic fertilizers can be applied more generously to your plants. When using store-bought products, it’s crucial to follow the instructions provided. If you’re using homemade fertilizer, exercise caution, particularly when using manure. Allow the manure to age for four months to a year before applying it to your plants. Aged manure can be introduced into holes for planting shrubs or trees, scattered around mature plantings, or placed next to cultivated vegetables throughout the year.
For granular fertilizers like Greensand, a hand broadcaster can facilitate application in larger gardens, or you can evenly distribute handfuls around your plants. For greensand, it’s suggested to apply 50-100 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Some gardeners advocate for foliar feeding, involving dissolving fertilizer in water and spraying it on plant leaves. Compost tea, a popular variation, can be made by dissolving compost or worm castings in a five-gallon bucket filled with water.
Improve your tree growth with American Tree’s tailored nutrient solutions. Contact us today at (973) 744-6091 to access personalized organic and liquid injection fertilizers perfectly suited to fulfill your plants’ nutritional needs. We provide services in Montclair, New Jersey, and nearby areas. Let’s nurture your plants together.