Have you ever visited an organic section in a garden center? If yes, you might have noticed that it has products that have soils and compost on them. These days, we term organic and organic products are thrown around a lot. However, what exactly do they mean? If you are curious about the same and want to know what kind of fertilizer you will need to grow these products, you are at the right place.
In this post, we will learn what high-octane complete organic fertilizers are, and how they can fulfill the needs of the plants for soil minerals and trace elements. To begin with, let us introduce you to the term organic gardening. This is the cultivation of soil that has ample nutrients and can sustain beneficial plants and organisms. For this kind of gardening, organic fertilizers are preferred over inorganic fertilizers. Let us find out all about them!
What Are Organic Fertilizers?
If you are looking for Natural Trace Element Sources for your garden soil, organic fertilizers are the go-to solution. These are naturally available mineral sources that are rich in various plant essential nutrients in moderate amounts. The use of these fertilizers tends to reduce the repeated application of synthetic/inorganic fertilizers to maintain the fertility of the soil.
These fertilizers are usually slow-release in nature, and gradually release their nutrients into the soil. With this, they tend to maintain a healthy nutrient balance resulting in healthier crop yield. Further, even the soil microbes gain energy from these to improve soil structure and facilitate plant growth and development.
While organic fertilizers tend to be highly beneficial, one must keep in mind that their excessive use is not the right choice. It can either lead to overfertilization of the soil or cause a nutrient deficiency in it. Thus, for sustainable agriculture yield, always make sure to use organic fertilizers in a controlled way.
What Are Complete Fertilizers?
Now that you know what organic fertilizers are, let us explore what the term “complete organic fertilizer” stands for. These are those fertilizers that occur naturally and are rich in all three primary nutrients, NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). For instance, if a fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 5:10:6, it means that it has nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in it, and is a complete fertilizer.
Typically, complete fertilizers are a blend of various raw fertilizers that are blended and sold under a specific brand name. Further, these are usually in the form of fertilizer pellets or granules. This is done to ensure that they spread easily in the soil. Also, these fertilizers are developed depending on the needs of various crop types.
What Are Balanced Fertilizers?
Just like complete fertilizers, these have all three essential nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in them. However, what makes balanced fertilizers different from complete fertilizers is that they have approximately equal parts of NPK.
While this may look appealing to you, it does not make much sense from a gardening point of view. It is because plants do not need nutrients in equal amounts. The proportion of these essential nutrients varies from plant to plant.
What Are Incomplete Fertilizers?
While complete fertilizers are rich in all three primary nutrients, NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), it is not the same for incomplete fertilizers. In their case, they supply only one or two of the three primary nutrients (NPK). For instance, the NPK ratio for Corn Gluten Meal is 8:0:0. This means that it is only rich in nitrogen and lacks the other two primary nutrients. This makes it an incomplete fertilizer.
Since incomplete fertilizers only provide one or two out of NPK, they are used for specific needs of plants. For instance, if a plant has enough phosphorus and potassium, and only needs nitrogen, Corn Gluten Meal with an NPK ratio of 8:0:0 is a perfect choice. Since these meet only specific needs, they tend to be less expensive. However, you will need more skills to use them the right way. They are usually marketed in the form of table salt-like soluble crystals.
What Are Some Well-Known Organic Fertilizers for Plants?
When it comes to organic plant food, one thing that all plants need is an overall general fertilizer and conditioner – compost or manure. These are not only readily available and provide essential nutrition to plants but also improve soil quality. By using this simple natural soil fertilizer, you will be aerating and conditioning your garden soil. It will also improve water retention. Now, let us quickly tell you some brief details about them. Have a look:
What Is Compost?
The best organic fertilizer for plants that you can add to your soil is compost. For those who are not aware, it is the end product of decomposed plant material. Now, it is further divided into two forms. One of them is slow compost and another is worm compost. The former is the one that is already in the degraded form that has happened due to naturally occurring microbes. It is high in nutrition, beneficial microbes, and mycorrhizae.
Worm compost/vermicompost, on the other hand, is made with the help of worms that recycle food scraps and other organic materials. This compost type is rich in plant growth promoters like cytokinin and auxin. Also, it offers micronutrients like Sulfur, Calcium, Magnesium, and Miscellaneous. These days, you can also readily buy compost. Some of the varieties are concentrated and offer a combination of various other soil minerals and Trace elements.
What Is Manure?
Apart from compost, manure also falls under the category of Complete Fertilizers. It is nothing but decomposed animal waste from farms. Using it for your soil can support beneficial microbes in it, condition it, and make it rich in soil minerals and trace elements. A great thing about manure is its accessibility. You can easily find it in your local garden center or grocery store.
If you are someone who lives close to a farm, there are chances you will have unlimited access to it. In case you get your hands on manure from the farm, make sure that it is composted and then used to prevent plant and soil damage or prevent weed seed’s introduction. Chicken manure also works this way. If you do not wish to do so, well-composted manure from horses or steers is a great option.
Is There Any All-In-One Organic Fertilizer?
If you are looking for an all-in-one organic fertilizer that is rich in Minor and Trace Elements, Sulfur, and other nutrients, you can find them in the market. These are made by combining several raw materials that are rich in soil minerals and Purified and Refined Trace Elements. Typically, these are useful if you apply them to the soil 2-3 weeks before seeding or crop transplant.
A brief guide to Trace Elements
What Are Some Examples of Raw Organic Fertilizers with high Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK) Ratio?
As mentioned above, to make an all-in-one organic fertilizer, several raw materials are mixed. These are Raw Organic Fertilizers or soil amendments that have high Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium (NPK), and other micronutrients ratio. Here are some examples of these raw soil amendments. Have a look:
N P K ratio: 2:5:2
Roles and Uses: If you are looking for a source of nitrogen for your plants that is non-burning, this soil amendment is for you. Also, it can aid the growth rates of seedlings due to naturally occurring growth hormones in it.
Organic Cottonseed Meal
N P K ratio: 6:3:2
Roles and Uses: This is one of the nitrogen, potash, and phosphorus sources out there. Due to it, this slow-releasing fertilizer can keep your garden soil aerated, as well.
Corn Gluten Meal
N P K ratio: 8:0:0
Roles and Uses: If you need a fertilizer that fertilizes your lawns and shrubs but prevents weeds from emerging, corn gluten meal is for you. It also helps lawn grasses develop roots that are deep and need less water.
N P K ratio: 5:5:6
Roles and Uses: Bone meal is among other nitrogen, potassium, and Phosphorus Sources that you can use. It will help your plants develop strong roots and also aids in fruiting and ripening.
N P K ratio: 0:3:0
Roles and Uses: The next organic fertilizer you can use is rock phosphate. With it, you can expect better access to other elements needed by plants, and thereby, better root and fruit growth.
N P K ratio: 10:6:0
Roles and Uses: Like one of the Nitrogen Sources mentioned above (Organic Alfalfa), this one too is a non-burning source for the same. It is also rich in essential trace elements, and can thus condition the soil to a great extent.
NPK Ratio: 6:1.5:2.5
Roles and Uses: Soybean meal is another soil amendment you can use if you are looking for a good source of nitrogen. Again, this offers a slow release of nitrogen. So, it is good for crops like tomatoes that need the same.
NPK Ratio: 7:7:1.5
Roles and Uses: If you are looking for Potassium Sources for your garden that promote root growth, Bat Guano is for you. It also aids the development of strong stems and flowering in plants.
NPK Ratio: 15:0:0
Roles and Uses: This is another slow-release source of balanced nutrition. Using it will provide your plants with a constant source of nutrients and also encourage microbes to serve as Biological Activators.
NPK Ratio: 0:2:5
Roles and Uses: This particular raw material is rich in glauconite which is further known to be a great source of iron, potassium, and magnesium. Due to the availability of these nutrients, Greensand can help improve moisture retention and loosen soil in your garden.
NPK Ratio: 0.1:0.5:1
Roles and Uses: Kelp Meal is another great raw fertilizer option. It is rich in various trace elements and can strengthen chloroplasts and improve cell division in plant cells.
Flax Seed Meal
NPK Ratio: 6:1:1
Roles and Uses: The final soil amendment we will talk about today is Flaxseed Meal. This again is a great source of slow-release nitrogen, and can also help improve water retention in your garden soil.
What Are Specialty Amendments for Plants?
Apart from all the amendments mentioned above, there are various other miscellaneous soil amendments. These are enough to offer your plants all 17 macro and micronutrients required by them. That being said, there are various other Specialty Amendments you can use for your soil. Some of them are excellent Calcium and Magnesium Sources like Glacial rock dust.
Another example of it is Granite sand. This particular material has over 60 elements that are needed by plants for growth and development. Gypsum is another soil amendment that is calcium sulfate. It is said to be quite beneficial for compact clay soils to change their soil structure. Just like it, Pumice is another soil amendment with water retaining properties that can be used for nutrients as well as soil aeration and drainage issues for both flowering plants and vegetables.
Final Thoughts: Are Organic Fertilizers Better than Inorganic Fertilizers?
When it comes to the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers, there are pros and cons of using both. While the inorganic ones work fast, organic fertilizers are usually slow-release. It depends on your garden’s need for nutrients. Typically, fast fertilizers can be a boon or a bane as they are too rich in nutrients. If not used well, they can even burn your plant roots. Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, work slowly.
The soil organisms need to work on them to break them for the release of nutrients. Also, since these fertilizers work slowly, there is not much risk of root burning. Also, as the nutrients are consumed as they are released, nothing is wasted. It is unlike inorganic fertilizers where the soil gets all the nutrients at once. Due to this, there is a danger of them seeping into the underground water.
That being said, whatever fertilizer you decide to use, it is first crucial to get your soil tested. This little cost is sure to help you save a lot – both your plants and money. Also, whichever fertilizer you decide to use, make sure to follow all the instructions given on the package. If you use them the right way, your plants are sure to bloom and have a high yield.