In any organic garden, one of the most important considerations is how you will maintain fertility over time. Using the best organic fertilisers for your garden is, of course, the ecologically sound choice. Synthetic fertilisers can cause harm to surrounding ecosystems and environments, and using them excessively can do more harm than good. Organic fertilisers are generally slow-release, and can not only give plants the nutrients they need but also protect and improve the soil.
Which organic fertilisers you should choose will depend on a range of factors. You will need to consider your soil, and the existing conditions in your garden. Of course, you will also need to think about which plants you grow. But to help you set out on the right track, here are some of the best organic fertilisers for your garden:
Homemade compost is a great multi-purpose fertiliser for your garden. Composting really is crucial to any organic garden. It will be central to any successful organic gardening scheme. A good compost will be high in nutrients, and will also serve as a soil conditioner. When you use it to top-dress garden beds it will add humus and improve the quality of the soil, helping to keep plants growing strong.
A homemade compost can also be added to water to make a liquid plant feed, to give plants a boost. And this liquid solution can also be used to make biochar, which can be another very useful soil amendment for a garden.
Manures can also be very useful as organic fertilisers. Manures that have been well composted also contain plenty of the nutrients plants need. Different manures have different characteristics and nutrient profiles. But any manures can be excellent to add fertility and to improve the soil in your garden.
You can, again, use manures to make a manure tea, to use as a liquid fertiliser in your garden.
Dynamic Accumulators as Organic Fertilisers
Another crucial thing to consider in an organic garden is that nutrient recycling means taking advantage of the properties of certain plants. Some plants are particularly good and catching and storing particular nutrients. Some plants (such as comfrey, dandelions etc..) have deep roots which gather nutrients from deep below the soil surface, while others (such as legumes) co-operate with bacteria in their roots to fix nitrogen from the air.
Dynamic accumulator plants can be composted, or chopped and dropped, to deliver the nutrients that have accumulated back to certain growing areas. As the plant material breaks down, the stored nutrients are released back into the soil where they can be taken up by plants growing nearby. Some dynamic accumulators may also aid their neighbours while in active growth.
Seaweed Organic Fertilisers
The methods mentioned above can usually deliver most of the major plant nutrients required. But certain plants and soils may still be lacking in certain other nutrients and micro-nutrients that are needed. Seaweeds such as kelp, in fresh or dried meal form, can deliver trace elements to a garden. Seaweed also contains plant hormones that stimulate root growth and regulate plant growth. So using it fresh or as a kelp meal in your garden can help keep it growing well.
Blood, Fish and Bone
Many soils are not low in phosphorus, and nitrogen and potassium (which are more easily washed out of the growing areas by rain) will usually deplete more quickly. But in certain situations, you may need to add phosphorus.
- Blood, fish and bone is an organic fertilizer that will help replenish this nutrient in your garden.
- Blood meal contains plenty of nitrogen and phosphorus.
- Bone meal is an organic source of phosphorus and calcium.
- Fish meal is a balanced ingredient – excellent for many plants.
There are also plenty of other plant and animal derived ingredients that can provide specific micr-nutrients for your crops. And no way that we could possibly name them all in one short article.
Of course, organic gardening requires careful thought. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. It is also important to consider that just because a fertiliser is organic, that does not necessarily mean that it is an eco-friendly or sustainable choice. You should always think about how materials, and what they really cost to people and planet.
But using these five organic fertilisers should certainly help you to move in the right direction as you develop a better understanding of your garden and the plants that you grow.
How do you maintain fertility in your organic garden? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.