Monica's Weekly Gardening Tips: What Are The Best Organic Fertilizers
Previously I had posted about traditional fertilizers so this week the topic turns to organic fertilizers. Whereas traditional fertilizers are derived from minerals or produced industrially, organic fertilizers are created from animal or vegetable matter. The most popular organic fertilizers are peat, animal wastes, and plant wastes from agriculture. Most gardeners turn to organic fertilizers in the belief that organics are sustainable and better for the garden and environment. However, that may not always be the case. For instance, peat moss is the most common organic soil amendment because it provides aeration and absorbs water in damp soils. Yet, it provides little nutritional value and actually deters earthworms which could lead to compacted soil which harms plant's roots. Decomposing peat also increases the acidity of the soil so lime would need to be included in the amendment to balance the ph levels. Finally, the harvesting of peat is not very sustaniable, since the organisms that live within the moss are destroyed for such a low nutritional value.
Animal wastes are another common organic fertilizer either the manure or wastes from slaughtering livestock. Yet most of these fertilizers are derived from destructive and inhumane factory farming. Chicken manure provides great nutritional value to the soil at the cost of sustaining inhumane conditions at mass chicken farms. In additional manure from livestock may still contain residues from the hormones and antibiotics readilty giving to factory farmed animals. According to one University of Minnesota study, crops actually absorbed the livestock antibiotics.
Bone and blood meal are also excellent organic fertilizers with bone meal providing phosphurus and to a lesser extent calcium and nitrogen while blood meal provides ample supplies of nitrogen. Yet, like manure, the sources for meal are predominately from factory farming.
The best option is to create your own compost or organic fertilizer. Creating your own compost supply is quite easy; here's 6 Steps to Perfect Compost.
Mother Earth News provides an easy recipe using seed meals, gypsum, and various types of lime.