Did you know there are hundreds of different types of natural fertilizer available for your garden? And many of these “wonder” products really do work better than chemical fertilizers!
For those of us who are a home gardener and value the health benefits of organic foods, it is important to know the best natural fertilizer for your garden.
Just planting vegetables at home doesn’t mean you are organic gardening. By eliminating chemical-laden fertilizers and sprays you can make sure to provide your family with the best possible healthy options on your dinner table.
What is natural fertilizer?
It’s a substance that helps plants grow better. But many gardeners are confused about what kind of natural fertilizer to use.
Some use poultry manure. Some use cow manure. And some use human or fish emulsion. But there’s a big difference among these types of fertilizers. Here’s why:
All fertilizers have three main components: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
The amount of each of these three main elements that make up any one particular type of fertilizer varies greatly.
Let’s take chicken manure as an example. It contains a lot of nitrogen and very little phosphorus and potassium.
Cow manure has more phosphorus than nitrogen.
Now, here’s the deal: All plants need nitrogen in order to grow. And almost all plants also need phosphorus and potassium.
However, most plants can get along with only a small amount of nitrogen.
So knowing what type your garden needs really plays an important role in plant growth. If you do not know what your soil needs, you may want to do a soil test.
Here are some of the best natural fertilizers that you can use to give your garden the boost it needs.
This is one of the most popular and easiest ways to help fertilize your plants.
Eggshells make great containers to start your seeds in and then plant directly into your garden.
Crushed eggshells provide nutrients that enrich the soil around your plants.
Crushing an eggshell is a very easy way to add some much-needed fertility to your soil.
You can do this by simply putting the eggshells in a plastic bag and then hitting them against a hard surface like a countertop or the edge of a table.
You can also run cleaned and dried eggshells through a coffee grinder or food processer to make eggshell calcium powder.
When you do this, the calcium carbonate in the eggshell will break down and the phosphorous and potassium will leach out into the surrounding soil.
It is a good idea to do this every year or two, or whenever you think your soil needs some extra help.
Organic Homemade Compost:
A great organic fertilizer is a homemade compost.
Gather your vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, and banana peels and cores into a bucket, bin, or compost pile in your yard throughout the year to build your own compost.
The essential nutrients in these foods as they break down will be perfect for feeding the soil around the plants in your garden.
For best results compost organic fruits and vegetables. That way you will be using one of the best organic fertilizers there is. Just make sure you know what to compost.
Compost is an important part of gardening. It is made up of plant material that has broken down.
This organic matter is food for the plants, and it gives them lots of extra nutrition.
I like to keep a composting bin (as well as black water bottles) in my greenhouse garden to help keep the temps above freezing on those cold nights.
Compost Tea Natural Fertilizer:
Another natural fertilizer option is compost tea. Compost tea is a natural fertilizer made from kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and other organic material.
Compost tea is great for use on indoor and outdoor plants and is now being used by thousands of farmers across the U.S. as a replacement for synthetic liquid fertilizers.
It’s true that compost tea is a “natural” way to fertilize your plants, but it is also a very effective way.
It contains all the necessary micro-nutrients that your plant needs to grow and develop.
Grass & Plant Clippings:
When you mulch leaves, mow the lawn, or even trim down plants and shrubbery you have tons of clippings leftover.
Mulch those grass clippings and till them into your soil to be used for gardening.
They break down and feed the earth giving it rich soil that will help your plants to grow stronger and healthier.
These can also be added to your compost.
They can also be used as mulch. Make your own mulch and place it around your trees and shrubs.
As the mulch breaks down, it will help to keep the soil moist and help with water retention as well as helping to keep down weeds.
Not just people enjoy coffee, the earth does too! Coffee grounds have long been recommended as a natural fertilizer for gardens.
Instead of tossing these into the trash after you finish your pot of coffee, add them directly to the soil or toss them into your compost heap.
They provide great benefits that will improve your soil health.
“Worm castings” are a great way to raise the nutrient levels in the soil. They are the rich, organic material that remains after the worms eat their way through a particular type of organic compost.
This “black gold” is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other micronutrients that promote plant growth. It’s a great addition to any garden, container plant, or indoor houseplant.
It won’t harm most houseplants and actually improves their growth.
If you want to, you can buy worm castings at your local farm or garden center.
However, you can also make your own fertilizer by starting your own Worm Composting Bin! It is easier than you think!
Yes, this is a gross but powerful natural fertilizer, it is also one that has been used for generations. The best way to find quality manure is to check with local farmers or ranchers that would have cows, horses, or chickens you can gather from.
Especially if you have a farm that raises grass-fed beef. You know that there will be no chemicals ingested by the animal that could make it unhealthy for your plants.
You can also check with various farm supply stores and ask questions about where the manure comes from if the animals were fed a chemical-free diet and other similar questions.
Manure aka animal waste is high in nitrogen which is essential for plant growth. It also contains other nutrients plants need to grow such as phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.
Manure from healthy animals who are fed a balanced diet is a good source of natural fertilizer. If you have livestock, head to your manure pile and use it to fertilize your garden or lawn.
You do have to be careful when using some types of manures over others. Some like chicken manure are considered to be hot manure.
What is hot manure?
When we say hot manure we are not talking about the actual temperature of the manure. It just means that it is a manure that is higher in some nutrients, therefore, is more likely to burn a plant if added right to it.
Those that are considered hot manures release their nutrients much more quickly causing them to burn plants. That is why hot manures should never be added right to the garden or plants. It should always be composted before use.
On the other hand, cold manures slowly release nutrients meaning they can theoretically, be added to the garden right away without issue.
So if you are unsure if you have hot or clod manure, the safest option is to not use fresh manure but to “season” the manure before using it in the garden.
Which natural garden fertilizers are the best choice?
Most people don’t realize how much of a role natural fertilizers play in the long-term health and success of a garden.
Plants need dozens of different nutrients and minerals in order to grow and thrive. If you rely only on one fertilizer, your plants will have all kinds of problems down the line, including poor growth, wilting, and nutrient deficiencies.
You should aim to always fertilize with a mixture so that all the plant nutrients and beneficial microbes are covered unless you know for sure what it is your soil needs.
Plants need a lot of different things in order to grow and prosper. Fertilizer is only one of those things.
Another is water. Without good, clean water to nourish your plant roots, your plant will not be able to reach its full potential.
You also need the right temperature and amount of sunlight in order for your plant to receive what it needs to grow and prosper.
Natural Fertilizer Conclusion:
It is not difficult to use natural fertilizer in your garden. You simply have to think outside the box and look at the great natural sources around you that are available for use.
If these don’t work for you, there are brands of bagged or liquid organic fertilizer and other organic soil amendments that you could also use to achieve the same end result.