The best organic fertilizer?

kurite(5)August 21, 2009

Hi

I have several different plants and would like to start fertilizing them with organic fertilizer. I heard rock dust is great because micro nutrients, but are there any others that are better?

Thanks

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justaguy2(5)

Not really sure where to start. Nutrients from rocks are considered very slow release so while they can help build up nutrients in the soil, they don't do much of anything in the short term. By short term I mean the current season.

Assuming you are growing in the earth rather than in containers you will do well to get a soil test done to find out what nutrients are in your soil and in what amount.

That's the basis for adding fertilizers, knowing what the soil is providing and what needs to be added.

The organic 'cure all' for soil is compost. It doesn't contain a high amount of any nutrient, but tends to contain all the essential nutrients plants need. Using it regularly (at least annually) goes a long way to keeping the soil fertility up and in many cases will provide all the nutrients a plant needs.

Plants with high nutrient demands like veggies may require more, but a lot depends on what the soil test says.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 1:08AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The single best material to add to your soil is organic matter, compost and almost any other once growing plant you can get. Before adding any kind of "fertilizer" to any soil you need to have a good, reliable soil test to see what that soil needs since adding too much of any nutrient will create more problems than it would solve. Contact your local office of your state universities USDA Cooperative Extension Service about having that good, reliable soil test.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 7:32AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Since the OP is about nutrition, IMO the single best material to add to your soil is (the immediate addition of) the nutrient most deficient - what sense in adding organic matter that will be available in months to the plants that are nutritionally starved today? Additionally, it would be nice to know whether the plants are in the ground or in a container medium that is sure to be nearly all organic before we offer the 'one-size-fits-every-problem' prescription.

You don't NEED to have a soil test done before you fertilize. Last I checked, we were still free to feed our pets & fertilize our plants. It may be helpful (soil test), and in some cases nearly indispensable, but often a shotgun approach is entirely adequate. I know dozens of extremely productive gardeners who fertilize regularly with organics & synthetics and don't have a clue as to what their soil has or has not.

".... adding too much of any nutrient will create more problems than it would solve." is, again, painting with much to broad a brush and ambiguous. How much is too much? A little bit too much, or a whole lot too much, how about more than necessary? What if we have adequate P and K in the soil, but N is deficient? If we fertilize with a fertilizer that has N married to P & K? Using 30-10-10, we are surely adding too much of 2 nutrients, P & K, so it should kill the plants - right? Actually, as long as the application of nutrients leaves the TDS and EC of the soil solution within favorable limits, more than necessary can be entirely OK and might be what we HAVE to do to get the job done (solve the N deficiency with the 30% fraction).

The constant advice to simply 'add more organic matter' is wise, but it isn't the answer to everything, and it certainly isn't the answer when timing is critical. Often, we 'should have' added organic matter previously so we wouldn't be in the pickle now; or, we 'should now' add organic matter, so we can have a healthier future crop. That leaves the currently dying crop, which most questions are about, in dire straits if the best advice we have is 'add more organic matter'.

I use synthetic fertilizers in containers and almost entirely use organic means to sustain nutrition in my gardens and beds, but I'd be darned if I'd sacrifice a salvageable crop on the altar of an organic ideology just so I could say "I'm all organic".

Kurite - if you're growing in a container, I would leave you to your own devices to develop an organic nutrition supplementation program because the variables are too extreme for anyone to offer usable specific advice that you can be even reasonably sure will work well.

If you are not steadfast in your determination to 'be organic' for container culture, I can tell you that it is far easier and more nearly foolproof if you consider using soluble fertilizers.

If you are growing in the ground, and want to maintain an all-organic approach, start building your soil now, for the future. Consider adding nutrients from whatever source you feel comfortable with if you are a good enough detective to figure out nutritional deficiency symptoms. Often, a shotgun approach to fertilizing when you spot deficiencies, while not necessarily the best or most efficient approach, can be productive, so don't discount it entirely on the advice of one.

Good luck.

Al

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 2:47PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

The way you asked the question makes be think you are relatively new to this. Here's the basics of how organic gardening works.

There are about 100,000 different species of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and microarthropods living in the soil. Those creatures produce Nature's plant food and have been perfecting that process for literally billions of years. In nature the microbes live off of dead stuff (like animals, birds, fish, and plants) and the stuff that falls or drips off of living stuff (like saliva, blood, hair, feathers, leaves, etc.). By the way, so do we. So to draw those thoughts to a conclusion, all the beneficial microbes living in the soil eat food just like we do.

Rock dust is not food. Food is food. If you look at any organic fertilizers' list of ingredients (not the guaranteed analysis but the actual ingredients) you'll find things like corn, wheat, fish, soybeans, alfalfa, cottonseed, and other sources of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

My favorite organic fertilizer is plain, ordinary, whole ground corn meal that I can get in 50-pound bags from any of my nearby feed stores for about $5-$10. Why is that my favorite? Because (1) it is available to me and (2) it is the cheapest thing that is available to me. Alfalfa pellets come in second place. Other ingredients are either not available to me or are priced way out of practical means.

I suggest you visit several of your local feed stores and gather prices for ground up meals of every kind they have. They have to be ground up though or else you will have a corn (or soybean) crop in your lawn. The application rate for a lawn is 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet applied from 3-5 times per year. For individual plants I scatter a heaping handful under the canopy every month (when I remember).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 6:25PM
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shadyapex(7 or 8 I think.)

Dr. Earth makes a whole line of organic fertilizers for various things, (roses, tomatoes, vegies, etc.) If you don't want to get scientific about your soil a quick and easy way is to go buy the fertilizer for whatever you want to fertilize. They're kind of pricey though and doing a soil test and adding lots of compost and other organic matter will get you better soil and better results in the long run.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 7:50PM
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Lloyd

"painting with much to broad a brush..."

giggle, snicker

(sorry couldn't resist)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 9:58PM
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sirilucky

Greensand and Fish Emulsion are the best fertilizers: Greensand-- An organic fertilizer which is a good source of iron, potassium, and trace minerals. Mined from ancient seabeds.

Fish Emulsion-- A concentrated organic fertilizer made from fish or fish by-products. Combine it with seaweed will make an excellent fertilizer. NPK approx. 4-1-1 to 7-2-2.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 1:20AM
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gardengal48

The "best" organic fertilizer is a matter of opinion and what your specific soil requirements may be. Greensand is most often considered a soil amendment rather than a fertilizer because its nutrient release is so slow.

While it is not legally considered a fertilizer because its guaranteed analysis is variable and seldom measured, a good quality compost is an excellent organic nutrient source, providing a full range of both macro and micro plant nutrients and various trace elements. Few other non-blended (single ingredient sources, like fish emulsion or greensand) organic fertilizers can offer the same extensive range. It also offers considerable other soil and plant benefits that labeled fertilizers do not.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 8:48AM
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Rooiakker

As I ve got it, citrus requires more K than N, how do one gets the K up? Obviously one calculates the N,P,K you plan to withdrew.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 5:44PM
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