What is Organic Fertilizer? Why Should I Use It?


After doing some research into the topic of organic fertilizers and why I should use them, I found there to be a lot of interesting information out there.

The following article will examine what organic fertilizer is and why you should use it in your garden.

What are organic fertilizers made from?

Organic fertilizer is derived from organic matter. It is made up of once-living things and includes vegetable and animal matter and manures. Organic fertilizers are much better for your health and the environment, so you should use them over chemically produced fertilizers.

In this day and age, inorganic and synthetic fertilizers are sold in almost every garden store. They’re readily available and inexpensive to buy, so it’s understandable why so many people use them in their gardens.

The issue with these synthetic fertilizers is that they may promote short-term health for plants, but long term, they can have damaging effects on the environment and soil life in your garden.

hand full of compost

This is where the better alternative option of organic fertilizers comes in.

What is organic fertilizer?

A large number of organic materials make effective fertilizers and conditioners for soil. Essentially, they provide nutrition to both plants and soil.

One of the common misconceptions among gardeners is that organic fertilizers are a hassle to make and less convenient than their chemical counterparts.

In reality, organic fertilizers can match chemical fertilizers in convenience and effectiveness.

As I previously stated, the thing that makes fertilizer organic is that it only contains naturally occurring materials. However, this doesn’t mean that any natural matter will make a good fertilizer.

Certain materials will produce a more effective fertilizer, and different combinations of materials can be better suited to certain situations in your garden.

Let’s take a look at the main categories of organic fertilizer and their best-suited applications.

List of Organic Fertilizer to buy

  • Growganics
  • Chicken Manure Pellets
  • Dry Blood
  • Biochar
  • Bat Guano
  • Fish Emulsion
  • Seaweed
  • Manures
  • Compost

Organic Dry Fertilizers

The level of moisture contained in organic fertilizer has a significant influence on its effectiveness and the purpose it is best suited for. Dry organic fertilizer usually consists of a singular material.

This material could be a type of nutrient-dense seaweed like kelp or phosphate derived from rock. Sometimes, dry organic fertilizers are composed of a mixture of these types of materials.

The majority of organic fertilizers are full of a diverse blend of nutrients, but dry organic mixtures a specifically formulated to give plants and soil the necessary amounts of phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and other vital micronutrients.

It’s possible to purchase readymade blends of dry organic fertilizer, but making your own is a rewarding process that increases your knowledge in this area.

One of the best ways to add organic matter to your garden is to produce your own compost at home. In the video below I show you exactly how to ensure you make the best nutrient-dense compost for your garden.

When it comes to applying organic dry fertilizers, the suggested method is to spread it evenly and then use a rake to blend it into the top five or so inches of soil.

In contrast to dry chemical fertilizers, this natural alternative will not cause harm to any vulnerable young roots.

Organic Liquid Fertilizers

Another common form of natural fertilizer is a liquid mix. The advantage of using liquid organic fertilizer is that plants can absorb them efficiently through the pores on their leaves and their roots.

When feeding through the foliage, the plants can acquire nutrients even when the soil quality leaves a lot to be desired, or the roots are not in great condition.

Liquid organic fertilizers are particularly effective when used with fast growers such as vegetables. They provide a great way to invigorate these plants during their growing season quickly.

One type of liquid organic fertilizer which is especially full of vital micronutrients and growth-promoting hormones is Comfrey.

How to make Comfrey liquid organic fertilizer

Making this nutrient-packed liquid feed is very simple. All that is required is to cut the leaves of the Comfrey plant. (I use the variety Bocking 14, which is a Russian strain). Place the leaves into a container and weigh them down.

As the leaves break down, you can collect the resulting liquid. Comfrey is an accumulator; this means that it draws up macro and micronutrients deep from the ground and stores them in its leaves.

I use 2 methods for making Comfrey liquid feed. The bucket method and the pipe method.

This video shows you exactly how to make your own organic liquid feed with both these methods.

This type of fertilizer can provide plants with a boost and quickly increase their uptake of nutrients.

The best way to use liquid organic fertilizers is to provide your plants with a little boost every couple of weeks when they are in the growing season.

For plants like leaf crops, it’s recommended that you spray them with liquid organic fertilizer weekly.

The best times to use your liquid fertilizer are in the early morning or early evening, as this will allow them to be easily absorbed without running the risk of burning their leaves.

It’s best to pick a day where the temperature is relatively standard. You should apply the spray until it forms droplets on the foliage for the best results.

Organic fertilizer for enhancing growth

Some natural fertilizers are extremely effective at helping plants to grow healthily. They basically aid the plants in their ability to absorb important nutrients from the soil.

One of the most commonly used growth-enhancing natural fertilizes the type of seaweed I previously touched upon, kelp.

Kelp and other seaweed forms have been used for hundreds of years as natural fertilizers because they are both safe and highly effective.

With a myriad of trace elements essential to the healthy growth of plants, kelp is one of the most effective naturally occurring fertilizers known to man.

How to make your own organic fertilizer

When it comes to making your own organic fertilizer, there is a seemingly endless amount of options. In the following section, I’ll go over some of the most effective and popular ways to do so.

The process can be as complicated as you make it, and some of the mixtures are easier to formulate than others.

Let’s start with the simplest way to make your own organic fertilizer. This method requires you to brew weeds and herbs similarly to making a cup of tea.

The herbs and weeds you choose are ultimately up to you, but some of the most effective are borage, chickweed, nettles, and comfrey.

You fill up a container with your chosen mixture of weeds and herbs, with stems, leaves, and flowers all included. Compact them together, then fill the container with water.

Then leave the container in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. Leave it there for a full day, so it gets ample amounts of heat, and the mixture brews.

It’s then time to sieve out the weeds and herbs and fill your spray bottle with the resulting liquid. This will make a nutrient-dense fertilizer in one day.

The issues with chemical fertilizers

To fully understand the benefits of organic fertilizers, we need to look at the downsides of using chemical fertilizers as an alternative.

man spraying a field of crops

Chemical fertilizers are renowned for being hard on plants because they simulate the process that a plant usually has to go through to get its nutrients.

This unnatural process causes the plant’s ability to do the work itself to diminish over time. It’s much like the old saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Chemicals also make the soil less nutritious. Although it may initially cause some benefits, it’s a vicious cycle that is detrimental in the long term.

Eventually, the plants become dependent on the quick-release nature of the chemical fertilizer.

The liquid, purified form that these fertilizers come in provides the plants with a quick fix in the form of nutrients, but later, there is an inevitable drop-off.

The sudden change can be very damaging to plants, requiring more chemicals to survive.

Another reason to choose organic fertilizers over chemical ones is that they are much kinder to the environment.

Chemical fertilizers are commonly synthesized from oils, and therefore the process of producing them is very taxing on the planet and can cause problems when they leak into other environments.

There’s a long list of negative environmental repercussions due to the use of inorganic fertilizers, which should act as an incentive to avoid using them and choose the natural solution wherever possible.

chemical absorption to ground

Most synthetically made fertilizers contain chemical molecules and lack carbon. The molecules of these chemicals are known to disrupt microbes. Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, help these microbes to thrive.

This is partly because the organic options contain carbon, which is essential for feeding microbes along with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

This mixture allows the microbes to make nutrients accessible for plants in a natural way.

Using organic fertilizer can also reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers in general. This is due to the promotion of natural processes that help all living organisms thrive within a garden.

Chemical fertilizers can cause harm to some of the insects or bugs that are essential to your garden’s overall health, not just your plants.

List Of Chemical Fertilizers You Can Buy

  • Urea
  • Sodium Nitrate
  • Potassium Nitrate
  • Ammonium Nitrate
  • Nitrophosphate
  • Superphosphate
  • Diammonium phosphate
  • Potassium chloride
  • Magnesium oxysulfate
  • Dolomitic limestone
  • Calcium chloride
  • Phosphoric acid

Related Questions

Can you use too much organic fertilizer?

Although not as harmful as using synthetic blends, using excessive amounts of organic fertilizer is still not a good idea and could potentially cause some damage to your plants.

Using too much fertilizer can cause the plant roots to burn and make them more vulnerable to diseases of harmful insects. All fertilizers should be used sparingly and with caution. 

Conclusion

Organic fertilizers are much better to use over inorganic or chemically based fertilizers. They promote the soil life to grow instead of destroying it.

As they build soil life, the microbes themselves help to feed your plants and make their immune systems stronger. Whereas chemically produced fertilizers destroy the soil life, you as a gardener will become dependant on them.

If you use chemical fertilizers, you will notice that your plants struggle, and you have to keep on using them to ensure your plants live.

However, this provides weak plants that do not produce well and ensure your reliance on the products you purchased, exactly what the chemical companies want.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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