Organic fertilizer and organic weed killer can be made at home or purchased at a garden center. They are not harmful to use because they do not contain synthetic chemicals that are toxic to children, pets and wildlife. Organic fertilizers add living microorganisms to the soil as they support healthy plant growth. Soil health is a major focus of organic gardening.
Organic fertilizer is made from natural ingredients such as bone and blood meal, feather meal, cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal, seaweed, fish meal, bat guano, rock phosphates and mined potassium. Corn gluten is used as a weed preventative and vinegar/lemon combinations are used to destroy existing weeds. Commercially manufactured organic weed killers are available on line and at garden centers.
Organic fertilizers are manufactured in all-purpose blends or as single-ingredient soil amendments. There are billions of living organisms in healthy soil that is organically cared for. Microorganisms are also called soil microbes. They digest plant and animal materials and convert them into nutrients. Soil that is high in beneficial microbes grows food that is high in nutrients.
A 2007 study at the University of California at Davis showed that tomatoes grown on organically fertilized soil contain 79 percent more flavinoids than those grown conventionally. Flavinoids are part of anti-oxidants, which are a cancer preventative. Organic weed control benefits soil health and does not harm the environment by adding toxic chemicals.
Application of Fertilizer
Organic fertilizer does not burn delicate plant roots, but is best used in specified amounts. Follow the directions on the product box for beneficial results. As a general rule, organic fertilizer is applied as the growing season begins and at regular intervals until harvest. Some plants, such as roses, are heavy feeders and thrive with frequent applications of plant food.
Application of Weed Killer
The Capitol District Community Garden recommends prevention as the best solution to weed control, while also suggesting the use of corn gluten products if weeds become overgrown. Corn gluten weed killer is applied in the early spring before seeds germinate. Mulching between vegetable rows and single plants smothers weeds before they can get started. Weeds can also be hand picked and dug back into the ground as a compost material.