Organic Fertilizers for Vegetable Gardens

A successful organic garden can provide a bountiful harvest using only animal- or vegetable-based fertilizers, without the use of industrial pesticides and growth-inducing chemicals or synthetics. Organic gardening concentrates on the natural health of the soil and working with nature to produce a healthy garden.

Bat Guano

Guano, the dung of cave-dwelling bats, may be used indoors or out. This natural fertilizer provides fast- and slow-release nutrients. Not all guano is the same as different species of bats ingest different food sources from insects to fruit. All guano is rich in nitrogen. Some of the guano varieties include desert bat guano and dry-bar cave guano. The Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety warns against inhaling the dust created by guano as the ingestion of microscopic spores can lead to histoplasmosis. Always wet the guano to reduce dust levels. Typical guano contains 0.5 percent nitrogen, 12 percent phosphorous and 0.2 percent potassium.

Worm Castings

Worm castings are the droppings left behind by redworms and are one of the densest composts available. The castings retain water and offer a steady release of nutrients easily used by most plants. This organic material contains natural growth hormones and is pH neutral. Jeff Lowefels of Growing Edge Magazine explains that vermicomposting (composting with worms) creates soil with "5 times the nitrogen, 10 times the potash and 7 times the phosphate than soil that hasn't been worked on by worms." A typical bag of worm castings contains 1 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorous and 0.7 percent potassium.

Cottonseed Meal

A byproduct of cotton manufacturing, cottonseed meal offers the slow release of nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and numerous trace elements. Breaking down over an extended period cottonseed meal promotes the grown of turf grass and vegetable gardens. Cottonseed meal acidifies soil making it perfect for blueberries, gardenias, azaleas and rhododendron. Due to its slow release nature, cottonseed is safe to use without danger of burning turf or plants. A typical bag of cottonseed meal contains 7 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorous and 2 percent potassium.

Keywords: worm castings, organic vegetable gardening, cottonseed meal, oganic fertilizers, vegetable garden fertilizers

About this Author

Tom Nari teaches screenwriting and journalism in Southern California. With a degree in creative writing from Loyola University, Nari has worked as a consultant to the motion picture industry as well as several non-profit organizations dedicated to the betterment of children through aquatics. Nari has written extensively for GolfLink, Trails and eHow.