Whether you are starting your first garden, or have been gardening for as long as you can remember, it is smart to consider your options when it comes to fertilizing. People have been gardening without chemical fertilizer since the first garden existed, but today growers are faced with a multitude of chemically ridden fertilizers on the shelves of home improvement stores and garden centers. Before shelling out your money on one of these, consider organic fertilizer.
The sight of drooping or discolored plants may spurn you to go out and buy some fast-working fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro, but the truth is, you may be doing more damage in the long run. Figuring out what your plants really need instead of giving them the quick chemical fix will take a little longer, but will keep you and your plants healthier. According to author and organic gardener Maria Rodale's Organic Gardening, chemical fertilizers "can make you and your family and your pets and the wildlife sick. Nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, leukemia and other cancers, weakened immune systems," are just a few of the known symptoms.
Fertilizers have an effect on more than just the plants you are trying to grow. When fertilizer is used, it leaches into the groundwater. Organic fertilizers will not pollute drinking water like chemical ones, thus they will not make people, animals, fish, and birds sick. Organic fertilizers, also will not have the effect that chemical ones do when they travel, through soil, water and air, for example. According to Maria Rodale, "up to 20 percent of the chemicals you buy legally include heavy metals -- toxic wastes, which include lead, dioxin, and arsenic, that would otherwise be subject to rigorous hazardous waste disposal laws -- as fillers." Rodale also notes that traces of these chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers have been found in some of the most remote regions of the world, even though the products have never been made or used there.
The soil's natural balance of ingredients and structure is disrupted by any type of fertilizer during the process of nutrient infusion. In the Fukuoka method, a Japanese method of natural farming and living, no chemical fertilizer or prepared compost is used; only the mulch from the waste of the crops themselves. If you are going to use a fertilizer though, organic fertilizers are less altering to the soil. The soil structure can become weak, and erosive with the use of chemical fertilizers, and also must be used more and more to get the same results as it works adaptively like a drug. Organic fertilizers need to be applied less often because they break down and release slower in the soil. This slower release of nutrients creates a healthier soil and plants, and is less likely to "burn" plants.