Fertilization 101: Growing Vegetables in Your Organic Garden
When we talk of fertilization for your effective gardening of vegetables in your organic gardening, it is almost similarly attributed to mulching. But there are also other aspects such as the introduction of fertilizers that can be available naturally or commercially. Simply defined, it involves placing matter, whether organic or inorganic, around your plants.
Aside from providing fertilization, it also protects your soil. Whether your garden is subjected under heavy rains or at the risk of weed infestation, the mulches provide ample protection and strengthening needed to supplement the natural growth processes of your organic garden vegetables. Aside from this, it also regulates the temperature of the soil; it can also render aesthetic appeal to the garden because it will help improve the ground texture and overall appearance.
If you have effectively established mulches in your garden, less watering is required because it will also help the plants retain water. The plants will also experience better growth levels and moisture retention. Although known to help in weed control, it does not directly fight or ward off the weeds. It just helps as a filler for bare areas that are at higher risk of weed infestation. Also, persistent weeds can die down as it forces itself in the soil surrounded with mulch.
For the case of organic mulches, bacteria has the tendency to eat up the much-needed nitrogen, so in some cases, you might be required to inject additional dosages of nitrogen. Some examples of materials you can use for mulching include lawn clippings, compost mises, leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips. These are examples of organic materials for mulching. If you opt for inorganic, it often has its optimum results on plants placed on a hill.
When fertilizing your soil via mulching, you may be required to be more meticulous with your organic garden. You might be required to water more frequently when you are using inorganic fabrics, and then you must also watch out for the greater tendency to wilt because the ground cover tends to be more crowded.
Testing your soil is a good way to ensure effective fertilization. You cannot afford to buy fertilizer by the bulk, only to realize that it is not the right fertilizer suited for your soil. The best way to make sure that you are able to score the best fertilizer is by means of doing an actual test on a sample of soil taken from your garden.
Once you apply fertilizer, it is often recommended to maintain it. Having a budget for high quality fertilizer is also a good must-have for a gardener, especially a beginner. There are also some fertilizers solely tailored at the beginning of the planting process and need not be maintained all throughout your gardening activities. In any rate, make sure that you are getting your money’s worth and have thoroughly proven for yourself that the given fertilizer you are putting on your garden has been tried and tested on your soil type.
Even if you put fertilizers or inorganic mulches in your soil, the organic matter is still the best source of fertilization for your plant, and it adheres closely to the natural growth process of plants. If at all possible, avoid introducing too much chemical interventions in your soil so that the plants will get used to growing and maximizing its potential via natural means.
What makes good fertilizer?
“N” = Nitrogen, “P” = Phosphorus, “K” = Potassium.
Represented in that order, these are the numbers you find on fertilizer packages. 10-5-5 is an example.
Some plant based organic fertilizers are Compost, Humus, Alfalfa meal, Cottonseed Meal, Corn-gluten meal, Soybean meal, and Kelp/Seaweed products. Check labeling information to be sure that the source plants were raised organically. Some meal crops such as cotton are heavily sprayed with pesticides, and traces of the poisons may be retained in the meal. Compost and humus should be finished, soil-like products when applied to your garden.
Animal based organic fertilizers are
- Blood meal,
- Bone meal,
- and Fish Emulsion products.
Guano may come from bats or seabirds, and is available in pellets or dried powder. Its high nitrogen value makes it quite potent, and it can easily burn plants if not used properly.
Fish emulsion is my personal choice, because it is diluted and used when watering plants, or it may be used as a foliar feed. Fish emulsion is gentle enough even for tiny seedlings. It provides all the nutrients they need for a strong start, and is well-rounded enough to use all season.
Blood meal is the dried and powdered blood from slaughterhouses, and is a real benefit for green leafy vegetables. Some people say that blood meal attracts dogs; it is also known as a deer repellent.
Bone meal is powdered bones and is very high in phosphorus and calcium. Root crops benefit from bone meal, as do flowering bulbs and roses. Broccoli is one vegetable that is reportedly high in calcium, and the only way broccoli plants can get calcium is if the soil they are grown in contains calcium. I dust bone meal in the soil when I set out broccoli plants, and I feel like it increases the health value of my broccoli by increasing the calcium content.
Plants also need minerals. Most mineral fertilizers contain additional micronutrients. Epsom salt is a very good source of magnesium and sulfur. It can be used directly in the soil in granular form, or you can dissolve one Tablespoon of Epsom salt in one gallon of water and spray it on plants for a foliar feeding. Tomatoes, peppers, and roses will really respond to Epsom salt feeding. Greensand, Gypsum, Hard-rock phosphate, Soft-rock phosphate, and Limestone are other mineral fertilizers. A soil test should be done before you add mineral supplements, since some can affect the pH balance of the soil.
Check Out: Compost, Build the perfect Pile
DIY Organic Fertilization
To concoct the fertilizer mix, measure out all materials by volume: that is, by the scoop, bucketful, jarful, etc.
Proportions that vary by 10 percent either way will be close enough, but do not attempt to make this formula by weight.
An old 5-gallon plastic bucket will allow you to stir up about 14 quarts.
- Mix uniformly, in parts by volume:
- 4 parts seed meal
- 1/4 part ordinary agricultural lime, best finely ground
- 1/4 part gypsum (or double the agricultural lime)
- 1/2 part dolomitic lime
- 1 part bone meal, rock phosphate or manure
- 1/2 to 1 part kelp meal (or 1 part basalt dust)
Farm feed and grain dealers are the best sources for large bags of seed meals, which are typically used to feed livestock. The other ingredients usually can be found at garden shops, although they probably will be sold in smaller quantities at higher prices per pound. You may find the best prices by mail order or on the Internet.