Organic means natural, so that means organic fertilizers are those that don't have any chemical or synthetic additives. Organic fertilizers can come in many shapes and forms, and range from seaweed to cow manure. The needs of the garden often dictate the type of organic fertilizer to use. The condition of the soil, location, climate and current nutrient levels of your garden soil will also help determine the type of fertilizer you may need.
Test your soil. You can do this by taking a plug or chunk of soil from your planned garden. Dig a chunk of soil from about 3 inches deep and take it to your garden or nursery center to be tested for current nutrient levels. This will help you determine how best to improve or feed the soil before you plant your first vegetable, flower or fruit tree.
Organic fertilizers are those that are found in their natural state, without any chemical additives or preservatives. Organic cow manure to seaweed, fish or bone meal are common organic fertilizers that may be found in garden centers, either in boxed or bag form. Seaweed is filled with trace elements necessary for optimal plant health, especially potassium. Horse, pig and sheep manure are also common alternatives, as are peat moss, fish emulsion and mushroom compost. (This type of fertilizer is made by tightly stacking horse manure until it creates its own heat, after which mushrooms are added to release beneficial nutrients into the manure). Many experienced gardeners like to combine cow or horse manure with fish emulsion or peat moss for excellent results. Other organic fertilizers may include bat guano, alfalfa meal, and blood and/or bone meal organic fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers avoid the use of chemicals or preservatives, which not only leave your fruits and vegetables tasting better, but also help the environment. Many individuals prefer green living and are trying to cut back on foods and products that contain such chemicals. Organic fertilizers are also great for creating fertile soil for lawns, trees, shrubs and vegetables that don't damage the soil over a period of time.
Organic fertilizers should contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, all necessary minerals for healthy plant growth and development. Nitrogen is necessary for putting the "green" in grass and leaves. Phosphorus and potassium are vital for healthy growth. Spring and summer bring with it an added need for such nutrients, but your local climate and weather patterns should also determine how your soil is conditioned and maintained.
Organic fertilizer doesn't release nutrients as quickly as some synthetic fertilizers, which helps prevent burning lawns, or over-fertilization of plants, flowers or vegetables. Organic fertilizers tend to disperse nutrients more slowly, offering plants a steady stream of natural nutrients that enhance regular growth and development.