Types of Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer
These days, due to the detrimental effects of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, there has been a strong trend towards organic vegetable gardening. Actually organic gardening is merely the old-fashioned way of gardening and going back to basics. The main difference between organic and conventional vegetable gardening is how fertilization and pest control is done. In organic vegetable gardening, fertilization and pest control are done without synthetic fertilizers or manufactured pesticides. In this article, I wish to focus on how to fertilize your vegetables in organic vegetable gardening.
Before adding any form of fertilizer, remove all weeds, rocks, stones, debris and any other unwanted materials in your soil. Generally, organic vegetable gardening involves applying organic matter to the soil in place of manufactured substances. When it comes to fertilizing the soil, the organic matter pertaining to this is green manure, compost and animal manure. Be sure to add this organic matter to your soil at least four weeks before planting your seeds to give enough time for the nutrients to be absorbed into the soil.
Green manure is primarily a type of cover crop grown to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. These crops are grown primarily in the non-planting seasons of winter and fall and only for a certain period (until flowering or while green) before being plowed under and incorporated into the soil. They also serve to prevent the soil from eroding and compacting over the winter season. Green manure crops include mustard, clover, hairy vetch, buckwheat, alfalfa, lupine, rye etc.
Compost is another category of fertilizer for organic vegetable farming. Compost can either be bought from garden centers or be made yourself. To make compost, use garden or kitchen waste such as leaf and grass cuttings, stems, twigs, wood chips, plant parts etc. But do not include meat, bones, fish, animal waste, dairy products, weeds that have gone to seed, diseased plants or pesticide-laced plants.
Mix them in a compost bin or heap them up at a certain secluded section of your yard. Be sure not to get your compost wet through the rain or exposed to direct sunlight. Add some soil, a bit of water and ground limestone. Turn the mixture over once a week to aerate it. Leave this compost mixture to decompose over a few months. In about 4 to 6 months, your compost would have been decomposed into humus, which is natural fertilizer for your soil. Spread the humus out evenly over your soil before planting.
Among the most common animal manures are farmyard manure (farm animal feces) and farmyard slurry (liquid manure, usually farm animal urine). Animal manures are normally mixed with straw which has been used for animal bedding and has absorbed the feces and urine. Generally, animal manure can be used for at least 30 days. Animal manure may also include other animal products such as recycled wool, hair, feathers and blood. When applying, scatter each side of the rows of vegetables with the manure. However, manure isn’t a complete well-balanced fertilizer so it is advisable to add a rock phosphate and potash.
Using these natural fertilizers, organic vegetable gardening can produce vegetables that are not only delicious but nutritious and safe for consumption.