Organic vegetable gardens differ from traditional gardens in their method of pest control and use of organic vegetable fertilizer. Organic fertilizers improve the quality of the soil and play a key role in the long-term success of your garden.
Role of Fertilizer
Vegetables need nutrients from the soil to grow and mature. These nutrients include nitrate salts, micro-nutrients and trace elements which are water soluble. Plants use these substances as they grow, and if they aren't replaced the soil becomes depleted.
Signs of nutrient deficiency include:
- lack of vigor
- yellowing or purpling of the foliage
- stunted growth
- more susceptible to pests or disease
To help prevent this, you can provide needed nutrients by taking the time to prepare your garden before planting. Throughout the season continue to add organic mulches and work them into the soil as you cultivate your garden. Also apply organic fertilizer when your plants show signs of nutrient deficiency.
Making Your Own Organic Vegetable Fertilizer
Organic fertilizers are comprised of substances like decomposed plant matter and manure. They are usually balanced with equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. To make your own organic fertilizer you'll need the following recommended ingredients:
- Cottonseed meal
- Agricultural lime
- Bone meal
- Kelp meal
These ingredients can be purchased in bulk from farm supply stores, mail order companies, or online. If you are just starting out you may want to buy smaller quantities of these substances at the local garden shop.
Commercial Organic Fertilizers
If you don't have a supply of organic vegetable fertilizer ready to use, you can purchase any number of commercial organic fertilizers. The following list is only a small portion of what is available.
It is a good idea to get your soil tested. It can be done at your local agricultural extension office, as well as at some nurseries. This will give you the best idea of what your particular soil needs for the most abundant vegetable production.
Garden Revitalization Kit
If you choose to order this fertilizer option, you'll receive a kit that includes:
- 15 lbs of organic fertilizer.
- Approximately 10 dozen red worms.
- Three pounds of worm cocoons.
Earthworms break down the soil and help remove pesticide and chemicals from it.
This is a liquid bone meal organic fertilizer that's good for your vegetable garden, fruit trees, and flowers. It puts readily usable phosphorus and calcium into the soil and is recommended for use when transplanting vegetables.
Carl Pool Earth Safe Organics
Carl Pool offers an entire line of organic products for your garden. Available in the Earth Safe Organics line is Bat Guano 10-3-1, the fertilizer of choice before the introduction of chemical fertilizers.
Applying Organic Fertilizer
If you make your own organic vegetable fertilizer blend, apply it evenly before planting:
- Raised Garden: about 4-6 quarts over 100 square feet
- Per Row: figure about 4-6 quarts for every 50 feet for rows of 12-18 inches
Work fertilizer into the soil before planting, and once your vegetables are growing, sprinkle small amounts of fertilizer as needed every few weeks.
If you choose to use a commercial organic fertilizer, follow the directions on the box or label.
Finding the Right Balance
Learning to find the right balance to fertilize your vegetable garden can seem a bit tricky, but with the products and tools available today and a little experience, you'll soon know what you're doing. To learn more about how to fertilize your specific soil visit Extremely Green Gardening Co for a copy of their "Organic Fertilizer and Soil Amendment Guide".