Organic plant food and fertilizers feed the soil with billions of beneficial microorganisms as they promote plant growth. Healthy soil grows healthy plants. Organic plant food does not burn delicate plant roots or add harmful chemicals to the environment. Gardens benefit from organic fertilizer throughout the year, but especially as the growing season begins. There are many brands of organic plant foods available at garden centers.
Organic farming is the oldest method of agriculture on earth. Plants have traditionally been fed and fertilized with byproducts of the farm. Manure, compost, biodiversity and cover cropping were used before the advent of synthetic fertilizers in the late 20th century. Synthetic fertilizers were promoted as an answer to world hunger but are now the major cause of nitrogen overload and global pollution.
Nutrients are transferred from the materials used in organic plant food into the soil and then back again into plants. Nutrient transfer is also called nutrient cycling. Nutrient-rich materials used to make organic plant food and fertilizers include bone and blood meal, feather meal, seaweed, bat guano, cottonseed meal, soft rock phosphate, fish meal, mined potassium and alfalfa meal.
Materials used in organic plant food and fertilizer contain billions of tiny life forms that feed the soil as well as the plants. It is these microbes in soil that create the nutritional value of vegetables and fruit. They digest and convert organic compounds into nutrients. Synthetic fertilizers boost plant growth without feeding the soil, which becomes increasingly lifeless.
Plant foods and fertilizer are available in all-purpose blends or as single ingredient amendments. Liquid fertilizers such as fish emulsion or compost tea are used as foliar sprays, which infuse nutrients directly into plant leaves. Single ingredient fertilizers such as alfalfa meal are used to promote growth in particular types of plants. Fish bone meal is especially beneficial for roots, buds and blooms.
USDA Organic Label
The Colorado State University Master Gardener Program recommends using the Organic Materials Review Institute to check ingredients on plant foods and fertilizers sold as organic. It publishes a list of ingredients and products that are in compliance with the USDA National Organic Program. Fertilizer is not a part of the USDA National Organic Program as of 2010.