By now, most of us are planning our gardens for spring planting and have a general idea of what our gardening goals are for the year. What’s next? If you happen to have the perfect soil, then you don’t have to worry about adding any soil ammendments. But, most of us do. And, if you are like me, you want to keep your garden as organic as possible.
Have you ever noticed the three numbers on fertilizer bags? That stands for the ratio of nitrogen, phophorous and potassium. For normal soil, you need a balanced fertilizer. For example, 5-5-5 or 15-15-15. But what can we use that is organic?
Let me tell you about the different organic fertilizers you can use and what they are for.
Probably the most readily available fertilizer is animal manure. It is high in nitrogen and will build up your soil. The only drawback to manure is that it might be lacking phosphorus. It is important to know what your vegetables need. Not every plant variety needs the same nutrients.
Shoveling manure is hard work! And if you do not have a little garden tractor with a front loader or manure spreader, then you have to do this…..
And this ain’t easy!
Notice the chicken tractor on the left side of the picture above. We have a large garden and will not have enough manure to cover it all, but we can put our chickens to work in the tractor. We move it every few days and they do a fine job fertilizing the garden!
If this doesn’t look like a whole lot of fun to you, then let’s move on to other options. Here are a few fertilizers you could use. These are the most popular and are not the only options you have.
Blood meal is dried powdered blood (I don’t recommend you visualize where this comes from) and is also high in nitrogen.
Liquid fish emulsion is a pretty balanced fertilizer. It comes from pulverized fish. Although it smells pretty horrific, it does give plants a boost.
Fish meal, alfalfa meal and soybean meal are high in nitrogen. Just know that these are pretty costly!
Greensand is a clay-type mineral that is high in potassium. Although it isn’t that cheap, you only need to apply it every three years.
Bone meal is a good source of phosphorous and readily available in most stores.
It is a good idea to get a soil test done before you decide what fertilizer you need. You can get a soil test kit at most farm and garden stores.
These options might help you decide how you plan on fertilizing and getting the most out of your garden.