But one thing that every gardener needs to take care of is the health of the soil. We all dream of an abundant, healthy, and fruitful garden, but it is important how we get there.
For starters, keeping your soil healthy is the key to a beautiful garden, and how we make the soil nutritious for the plants is what will make or break our gardens. One of the best ways to ensure that your soil is receiving all the nutrients is by constantly feeding it with organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers, unlike chemical fertilizers, can be easily made at home using the things hidden at your place.
Making your own organic fertilizers is both cheap and easy. In this article, we will help you to understand how organic fertilizers are beneficial for your plants.
First step: Know the nutrients
Humans need their proteins and carbohydrates to survive. Similarly, plants need nutrients to thrive. You must know that plants need Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium and some other nutrients to grow. But you should also know how and when plants need these nutrients.
Potassium-rich plants are great for encouraging resilience to stress. A few potassium-rich plants that can be used to boost the growth of other plants are Dandelion, Comfrey, alliums (garlic, leek, and chives).
Nitrogen should be used in the early stages of leaf and stem development of a plant, and used in the season when the plants start flowering. A few nitrogen-rich plants are common mallow, stinging nettle and comfrey.
Phosphorus aids in the strong root growth at the start of the growing season, especially on developing root crops or new transplants.
Types Of Organic Fertilizers
Dry organic fertilizers are used in both container-grown plants and in-ground grown plants. These dry fertilizers provide a broad array of nutrients to plants like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium as well as micronutrients. These are basically added to increase the long-term health of the plants.
Liquid fertilizers can be absorbed by the roots or the leave pores of the plants. It is effective for plants that are growing actively like vegetables. They act as a catalyst for these fast-growing plants and increase the uptake of nutrients. Use liquid fertilizers to give your greens a boost once every two weeks during the growing period. With fruiting and flowering plants, liquid fertilizers are extremely useful.
Growth enhancers are products that help your greens absorb nutrients more efficiently from the soil. One common example of a growth enhancer is kelp (a type of seaweed), used by the farmers for ages now. A growth enhancer contains growth-promoting nutrients and enzymes.
Here’s a list of organic fertilizers that you can easily spot around you.
1. Fertilizers From Kitchen
You don’t have to look very far for things to make organic fertilizers. Fruit and vegetables peelings are the number one food residual you can keep aside. Keep nuts, eggshells, over-ripened fruits, and vegetables. However, do not include oils, grease, dairy products in your composting materials, they can make your compost pile a wet mess and produce an annoying odour.
Here are different fertilizer recipes that are very easy to prepare straight from your kitchen.
You can eat the banana and keep the peels, banana peels are rich in potassium which is essential for plant growth. Simply throw these peels in the soil before planting or bury them under the mulch. This helps in enriching soil fertility. One of the plants that love potassium is the rose plants.
Another ingredient lying on your kitchen shelf beneficial for the plants is Epsom Salt. It helps the flowers in the blooming process and enhances the colour of the plant. The salt is rich in magnesium and sulfur that helps the plant to grow bushier. Plants like roses, tomatoes, and peppers benefit from Epsom salt. Mix two tablespoon of Epsom salt in three litres of water and spray it on your plants every once in a while.
Compost tea is an excellent source of nutrients for the soil, it helps in nourishing the plant and replenishing the soil. Regular use of compost tea improves the soil’s water retention capacity. The good old fashioned way to make compost tea is to take all the finished compost of tea and put in a bucket. Fill the bucket with water to a few inches top and let the mixture sit for 2-3 days. Strain the tea with a fibrous cloth and use the water to spray your plants.
Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, plants like tomatoes, blueberries, and roses benefit from it.
Simply sprinkle the liquid version or powdered coffee grounds on the top of the ground to help the plants grow well. Mix 6 cups of coffee grounds in 5 gallons of water nicely. Let this mixture settle down for 3-4 days before you start applying it to the soil.
2. Fertilizer from animal manure
Animal manure is being used as a source of organic fertilizer for ages now. Composed manure of chicken, cattle, horse, goat, etc contributes to the fertility of the soil. Animal manure is packed with nutrients that plants need to grow. You will easily get the composted manure of these animals with the people who raise them. It’s best to use aged and composted manure for effective results. Let the manure steep for 3-4 days in a shaded area before you start applying it to your soil.
3. Seaweed as fertilizers
Seaweed helps in improving the structure of the soil and improves moisture retention property. These are often found near the shores of beaches. This nutrition-rich seaweed stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the soil, creating rich and healthy soil for your plants. Use fresh seaweed and dry it well before tilling it in your garden. Grind the dried seaweed and simply sprinkle it around your greens.
4. Fertilizer from other nutrition-rich plants and weeds
An abundant source of nutrition-rich fertilizers is right there in your garden, available for free.
Common plants and even unwanted weed can become a quick source of micro and macronutrients for your plants as they hold an abundance of vitamins and nutrients in their leaves. To name a few: Chickweed, burdock, comfrey are examples of weeds that form a great source of vitamin for other plants.
The process of making an organic compost is similar to the one of grass fertilizers:
Fill the bucket with ⅔ part of fresh nutrition-rich grass clippings and weed plants, top it off with 2-3 inches of water. Let the mixture sit for 2-3 days, stir the mixture at least once a day. The compost needs to be covered to promote moisture and discourage mosquitoes from invading the compost pile. Spray the mixture over your plants to support their growth. Ensure that you do not use the weeds that have reached the seeding stage, they might survive and spread in the garden.
Inorganic Fertilizers Vs Organic Fertilizers
Plants also need a boost of nutrients to grow properly like us. These nutrients are generally present in the soil. But when they are not there, the growth of the plant suffers. Fertilizers help the plants to grow properly and provide the soil with all the required nutrients.
Your plants can’t understand the difference between chemical and organic fertilizers but you certainly can. The chemical fertilizers contain salts made from non-renewable resources that plant roots can absorb quickly. Unfortunately, the salts present in these fertilizers do not feed the earthworms and the microorganisms present in the soil. Over time, these fertilizers acidify the soil and they lose all the important organisms that help to build soil health. As a result, soil structure starts declining and it’s water retention capacity diminishes which in turn hampers the growth of plants.
When you encourage the use of organic fertilizers, you avoid this kind of soil crisis. Organic products serve as both fertilizer and food for plants and animals. This is the most essential difference between the usage of chemical vs organic fertilizers.
Advantages Of Organic Fertilizers
Inorganic/synthetic fertilizer might do the job today but organic fertilizers will keep your soil healthy even tomorrow. Organic fertilizers ensure the safety and health of the soil for a long period of time. Here are the benefits of organic fertilizers over their synthetic counterparts.
Organic fertilizers are safe and healthy for the plants
Organic fertilizers are safe for your plants, environment, and even your pets. Whereas chemical fertilizers are produced using a significant amount of fossil fuels, it harms the health of the soil in the long run, and it often runoff to nearby water sources like ponds or lakes and pollutes them.
Organic fertilizers work slowly and steadily but always wins the race
The soil breaks down the organic fertilizers slowly and then the soil and the plants get all the nutrients they need. Chemical fertilizers are speedy but they can overfeed the plants, it harms the health of the soil and can damage the plants by burning them.
Organic fertilizers work well for the soil
Using organic products improves the texture of the soil, allowing it to hold the water for a longer period of time, and increase the fungal and bacterial growth in the soil. They not only help your plants grow but also improve the health of the soil. Whereas, chemical fertilizers make the soil unproductive by depleting the nutrients of the soil over a period of time.
Organic fertilizers are easy to use
They are easy to use and apply, simply add them to your soil or spray them to your leaves. No matter how you use them, organic fertilizers add countless benefits to your plants and garden by providing them with all the nutrients. Whereas, chemical fertilizers can be hazardous, not only for the plants but also for your pets. You have to be careful while applying it to your greens.
There are tons of other ways to feed your plants with nutrients organically. Chemical fertilizers give the plants a ‘Quick Hit’ to grow. However, choosing organic fertilizers is a cheap, environment-friendly, and healthy option.
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