When thinking about the term “natural fertilizer,” a rotting pile of horse manure might come to mind. Some will think of a bin full of compost and worms. Others will gleefully remember the first time they learned what the word “guano” meant. Believe it or not, natural fertilizer can be made from natural materials other than crap. Sure, horse manure, turkey manure, bird droppings and worm “casings” are great natural fertilizers. If you don’t have a horse farm nearby, or a pickup truck with which to haul, or you live in a climate where running a small worm farm would require a return to old-fashioned agriculture by keeping your worms cozy in your garage all winter, there are alternatives that do not involve conventional, synthetic fertilizer.
Free Natural Fertilizer
Most fertilizers are a combination of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. The NPK numbers on the fertilizer bags you buy at the store give the ratio of these ingredients to each other. Depending upon your lawn or plant types, some ratios work better than others. A free way to add nitrogen to your lawn and garden is to keep your grass clippings. You can use a mulching mower and leave the clippings right on the lawn, or you can use a bag to collect the clippings and spread them in your garden. As soil organisms break down the grass clippings, nutrients will return to the soil, and the soil structure will improve.
Seaweed is a plentiful resource, and a source of many nutrients. Asian cultures have used seaweed as a staple of human diets for centuries. Seaweed is just as beneficial for plants. Plants need micronutrients, which are trace elements that occur in soil in much lower quantities than Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Most soil tests do not test for micronutrients and it can be difficult to restore balance of nutrient availability if it becomes unbalanced. Using a natural source of micronutrients like seaweed is a good way to ensure micronutrient availability in the soil.
You can apply seaweed directly to the soil, as a mulch, if you are lucky to live where there is ample seaweed for harvesting. Before applying, it is a good idea to hose it down to remove excess salt. Seaweed breaks down quickly, but its slimy consistency contains components that help improve the structure of crumbly, sandy or coarse soil. The other, easier way to use the powerful effects of seaweed (especially if you live in a land-locked state) is to purchase a concentrated nutrient solution made with seaweed. These solutions can be diluted with water and applied like conventional liquid fertilizers, but they are safer for people and plants.
Plants Need Hormones, Too
Another type of concentrated, liquid, natural fertilizer is a fertilizer solution made from plant hormones. In people, hormones regulate body functions. Plant hormones function in much the same way. There are hormones that promote fruit growth, hormones that promote vegetative growth, hormones that regulate reproduction, photosynthesis and every other plant function. Plant hormones can be synthetically produced and used to produce artificial results in plants. (One example-flats of petunias for sale at your local big-box store that are about one inch tall but full of blooms. Some plants never grow out of those treatments.) When mixed appropriately and applied correctly, plant hormone natural fertilizer solutions are quite safe and effective.
Natural, Safe Fertilizers-More than Crap
Commercial growers have been slow to embrace natural fertilizers as a business-friendly way to produce cash crops. Those growers have a lot on the line, and many have referred to natural fertilizers as “snake oil.” With public demand growing for safer, more environmentally friendly agricultural products, large scale farmers will start to jump on the bandwagon. Additionally, modern large-scale farming methods deplete soil and ruin structure, where using natural fertilizers does not. Eventually it will make more sense to commercially produce plant products with more natural, sustainable products.
There is nothing, however, stopping you, the home gardener, from trying these natural fertilizers today. They will produce higher yields in the short term, and maintain soil structure and fertility in the long run. They are a win-win option for you and for your plants.
Natural Fertilizer Guy started the website http://www.safe-fertilizer-reviews.com in order to provide gardeners, homeowners and landscapers with the tools and information they need to make informed, environmentally responsible purchases for gardening.
Natural fertilizers and Seaweed fertilizers are Natural Fertilizer Guy’s area of expertise. Each fertilizer reviewed on the site has been tested by Natural Fertilizer Guy, and has proved to increase plant growth as much, if not more than conventional, synthetic fertilizers.