WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NATURAL & ORGANIC FERTILISERS
If you are experienced or new to gardening you will know that fertilising your garden is important. Crops grow faster and better when fertilised. Fertilisers provide plants with the essential nutrients and minerals needed for growth, particularly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. increased.
So we know fertilisers are needed to establish a healthy garden, but what fertilisers should you use. Of course, I will tell you that natural is better, but there are a few things you need to know about the differences between organic fertilisers and synthetic (inorganic) fertilisers. Synthetic fertilisers are made chemically and sometimes are made from natural sources, like rocks and minerals.
Organic fertilisers are derived from animal matter, plant matter or human excrement. (e.g. compost, manure). Animal matter can come from meat processing, livestock manure, slurry, and guano (excrement of seabirds, cave-dwelling bats or birds). Other forms are worm castings, fish meal and blood & bone meal.
Compost can be made from waste plant material such as vegetables, fruits and flowering plants, but other plant materials can provide nutrients such as wood ash, kelp, seaweed, cottonseed meal and soybean meal. In general, plant based fertilisers contain low to moderate amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, but their nutrients become quickly available to the roots of plants to absorb. Some plant based fertilisers even provide an extra dose of trace minerals and micronutrients.
Why organic fertilizers are great
Organic fertilisers such as compost and humus are great in helping the soil to retain more moisture, reducing the need to water. Natural fertilisers help the soil structure and enhance the root development of plants. They are far more environmentally friendly than commercially available synthetic fertilisers by preventing soil erosion and leeching of nutrients. The native microflora can store up food, as the nutrients are easily stored in the surrounding soil particles. Also, plants are far more healthy and grow steadily because nitrogen tends to be released slowly from organic fertilisers. All this means you don’t have to fertilise as often.
Things to be aware of when using organic fertilizers
Since organic fertilisers are not manufactured they are not as user friendly because there is no control over the concentration of nutrients or minerals. This makes it difficult to determine the ratio of organic nutrients in the fertiliser and give what is needed for the specific soil and plants in the garden. As nutrient and mineral content is variable, the release of nutrients may not be coordinated with the developmental requirements of the vegetables and fruit growing. This means as a grower a lot more management is required. Also, if natural fertilisers are not properly composted there is the risk of pathogens and other disease causing organisms which can potentially cause harm to humans, animals, and plants.
Next week we will discuss preparing your soil to ensure both your soil and fertiliser work at their best. Followed by how to prepare the different natural fertilisers. As we are heading into Spring, I’m sure a lot of you are thinking about growing some plants, but before you put a seed or seedling into your soil, you need to prepare the soil and fertilisation is an important component of this. So we hope this advice has helped you to have a basic knowledge on organic fertilisers and what to look out for.
Be earthly passionate gardening,
Attracta & the earthly passion team.