Organic fertilizers and plant food were the foundation of agriculture for thousands of years. Although many modern commercial farms use chemical fertilizers, many prefer to use natural, organic plant foods and fertilizers in home gardens. Because of its long history, you have many choices for your vegetable garden.
Organic agriculture is the oldest form of agriculture on earth, according to Iowa State University's Agricultural Extension. Synthetic, chemical fertilizers and plant foods didn't become widely available until after World War II as war material was converted for civilian use. Ammonium nitrate, an ingredient of World War II munitions, evolved into ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Organophosphate nerve gas became a number of different insecticides.
Organic plant foods and fertilizers use naturally occurring substances. Because they are more complex than chemical plant foods and fertilizers, organic plant foods must break down in the soil before their nutrients can be absorbed by your plants. In general, they take a little longer to work, but there is less risk of soil and root damage because of over fertilizing.
Liquid Organic Plant Foods
You have a number of possible choices for liquid organic plant foods. Although some commercial blends are available, many people choose to use either fish or kelp emulsion. Fish emulsion is a well-balanced liquid fish-based fertilizer that you dilute before use. Kelp emulsion is similar, but higher in many trace minerals and based on seaweed instead of fish.
Powdered Organic Plant Foods
A number of dried, ground products can work well as an organic plant food. If you need higher nitrogen content, seed meals are powdered organic fertilizers that offer higher nitrogen than others. Other types of meals include blood meal, bone meal and fish meal.
Compost is fresh material created by the breakdown of vegetative waste in a compost bin or compost pile. Compost allows you to turn your kitchen and yard waste into food and organic material for your plants. If you don't have a compost pile or bin, many home and garden supply shops carry commercially produced compost that makes a good organic plant food.