Presented by Jenny Peterson for Kellogg Garden Organics
Soil health and vitality is at the heart of organic gardening. Creating soil that is rich in nutrients and humus is the secret to growing colorful flowers, healthy edibles and long-lived trees and shrubs.
While synthetic fertilizers give a quick but temporary boost to plants, organic fertilizers work tirelessly to make your garden soil come alive when used as a long-term organic gardening practice.
So what organic fertilizers are best for your garden? Here are some of the most common types, but remember — always follow the package directions when applying any fertilizer, as “more” is not necessarily “better.”
5 Ways to Fertilize Your Organic Garden:
- Compost. Compost can be purchased in bags or created in a compost pile or composter in the backyard. By combining kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, straw, shredded newspaper, and disease-free garden plants, it’s easy to transform everyday materials into a nutrient-rich supplement for your garden soil.
- Fertilizer Tea. Also called “compost tea,” fertilizer tea is a nutrient-laden liquid made by steeping aged compost in water for three to four days. The key is in using compost that is broken down into tiny particles dark in color, has the texture of cornmeal, and emits a fragrance similar to forest soil. Use it to water plants or spray onto foliage.
- Dry Fertilizers. These fertilizers come in granules or pellets, and are broadcast on the soil surface, added into planting holes, or spread around transplants. Organic dry fertilizers are non-burning and will not harm the roots of delicate seedlings.
- Liquid Fertilizers. Typically concentrates, liquid fertilizers will need to be mixed with water before applying. Read the label to ensure proper ratios, then apply to foliage or the roots of your plants. Fertilizing in this way gives plants a quick and light boost every couple of weeks during the growing season. Examples include compost tea and seaweed.
- Grass Clippings. Ever heard of the “don’t bag it” slogan? This refers to the practice of leaving your grass clippings on the lawn or reusing them in the garden rather than bagging them up for disposal. Grass clippings are high in nitrogen and are very effective fertilizers when applied in thin layers. Add them to the compost pile, dig them into the soil in your vegetable garden, or lay a layer of clippings around mature trees and shrubs.