Good fertilizers for plants are ones that help build soil health as well as boost plant growth. Nutrient depleted soil can be a problem when synthetic fertilizers have been used for years. The EPA has determined that compost fertilizers are able to transmute harmful chemicals in soil and help return it to natural functioning. A teaspoon of healthy soil has 5 billion microorganisms that cycle nutrients into the soil. Synthetic fertilizers do not have organic matter so they are not able to provide microorganisms.
Homemade or commercial compost is used as a soil amendment when plants are put into the ground and as fertilizer during the growing process. It is a good fertilizer that is not stressful to delicate root systems, retains water easily, allows root spread because of the organic matter content and accelerates nutrient recycling. Compost is easily made at home in either a commercial compost bin or by simply starting a pile of garden and kitchen scraps. Many local city recycling programs have compost workshops that make compost bins available at reduced cost.
A good fertilizer adds a slow and steady stream of microorganisms to the growing plant. Microorganisms create and release the nutrients that produce healthy plants and give increased nutritional value to vegetables. Compost tea is made from commercial or homemade compost fertilizer by putting a small amount in water and letting it steep. The beneficial bacteria and fungi in compost tea helps plants resist disease and harmful pest infestation. It can be used to water plants or as a foliar spray. Plant leaves have microscopic pores on the underside that allow in nutrients from the sprayed compost tea.
Worm compost is a good fertilizer for plants because it is five to seven times higher in nitrogen and phosphorus than ordinary garden soil. Worm composting is called vermicomposting and it is part of the culture of large-scale organic farming. Home gardeners make worm compost by using commercially available worm bin kits or making one from a plastic storage box. Worm compost is a highly concentrated fertilizer that is added to garden soil or made into worm tea, which is used like compost tea. Red wiggler worms create compost by eating nearly their own weight in food scraps per day.