What Are The Organic Fertilizers That I Use?
During the 33 years that I have been an Organic Gardener, the cost of obtaining various organic fertilizers has increased. The price of chemical fertilizers has also increased. Using organic fertilizers requires much more time in gathering, buying from various sources, and applying than using commercial fertilizers. If that is a down side, it is balanced out with much needed exercise and more intimate invested interest in having healthy living soil. Chemical fertilizers create sterile soil.
Organic fertilizing starts with a foundation of healthy compost applied at the rate of 3-4 inches per row usually twice a year. The organic fertilizers can be hays, manures, granular meals, soluble dry powders, or liquids that can be sprinkled or sprayed. The fertilizers are organized in terms of plants needs for Nitrogen (N) which provides plant growth, Phosphorus (P) needed for flowering and fruiting, Potassium (K) needed to strengthen the plant and protection from diseases, Calcium for root and cell wall health, plus Trace Minerals such as magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc, and manganese which effect health, color and flavor. Organic fertilizers provide most of these elements in various percentages.
The Nitrogen organic fertilizers that I have most used are: Cottonseed meal, Soybean Meal, Composted Chicken Manure, Blood Meal and Liquid Fish. The Phosphorus sources I use are Bone Meal and Soft Rock Phosphate. Most soils have sufficient Potassium, but I have used Greensand and Potash Sulfate. Soft Rock Phosphate and Gypsum have Calcium in them. The Trace Minerals I use are Azomite granules, Alfalfa Hay, Blood Meal, Liquid Fish, Dry Humate, Kelp Liquid, Soft Rock Phosphate, and of course, Spray-N-Grow along with Bill’s Perfect Fertilizer.
In mid-winter here in Rockport, and again in August, I clean out the garden of its old plants and pull up or hoe all the weeds. Then I hand spread each of the organic fertilizers on each row. I will put down more of the Nitrogen fertilizers than the others I use. I will follow this by spreading 3-4 inches of compost on each 24” wide row. The compost is from my compost bins as well as from a friend who puts shrimp shells, hotel pre-garbage, and other materials in his ground-up oak leaves.
The next day I will use my small 4 cycle tiller to till forward one half of the row and then pull the tiller backwards to allow it to till the fertilizers deeper into the row. I will repeat this for the other half of the row. I follow this process by tilling the sides of the row forward and then pulling the tiller backwards at an angle throwing dirt up on the side of the row. I want the row to be about 12 inches above the middles. I use an old garden plow with a handle in it to pull any loose dirt up on the row. I finish by using a hand rake to smooth out the row for planting.