When it comes to fertilizing your garden the all-natural way, composting alone may not give your soil the specific nutrients it lacks. Fortunately, you can easily find organic alternatives to that traditional bag of chemical "10-10-10."
Baby plants grow up stong with rich, organic fertilizer
image by "Free New Life Child Holding Green Plant Creative Commons" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Pink Sherbet Photography (D. Sharon Pruitt) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
Having your soil tested tells you if your soil needs one or more of the "Big Three"--nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium (N-P-K)--as well as various trace minerals. Your local extension service can provide an extremely detailed list of what your garden needs in order to thrive.
Manure for Nitrogen
Chicken, rabbit, horse and cow manures all make excellent sources of nitrogen. Always use aged manure or spread the newer stuff at least three months before planting.
Other Nitrogen Sources
Blood meal, alfalfa meal, soybean meal and liquid fish emulsion all make great sources of "vitamin N." You can alternate a slower-release fertilizer, such as blood meal, with one like liquid fish emulsion, which doesn't last quite as long but gives drooping plants a pick-me-up.
Leftover slaughterhouse products tend to yield good sources of phosphorus, including bone meal and the lesser-known horn and hoof meals. For those seeking a non-animal source, use rock phosphate.
Kelp, woodstove ash, crushed greensand and granite are good choices for adding potassium organically.
Ground rocks, salt and other "hard stuff" make the best natural sources for the various nutrients your soil test may specify. One supplier of an all-around fertilizer adds "glacial rock dust, Azomite, lignite, copper sulfate, zinc sulfate and manganese sulfate" to its basic N-P-K ingredients.
- The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
organic fertlizer, non-chemical garden food, N-P-K, soil test
About this Author
Ellen Douglas has been a writer for more than 20 years, both as a New England-based newspaper reporter and as an editor of nonprofit publications. She has written on health, education and the arts for both online and print publications.