Buying inorganic/synthetic fertilizers at local retail stores/markets, is a simple solution to fertilize poor soil, but they often lack the trace elements that are naturally found in organic fertilizers. On this page, I’ll go over some of the basic ingredients to use in compost, along with a few other soil amendments.
Organic, natural fertilizer is the way to go, especially for personal gardens and flower beds. A prime example of an organic fertilizer is the end result of a self-made compost.
Compost involves a variety of waste material…
There are many benefits, when it comes to using this method. For one, the environment, since a lot of the waste material used while composting, would normally find its way into the trash cans and/or landfill. Compost typically contains all of the nutrients needed for vigorous plant growth, improves the soil quality and moisture retaining properties, and acts as a slow-release fertilizer.
Make your own Compost…
Generally, you can either use an “open bin” or a “compost container” for the composting process. You can buy these bins and containers or, if you’re the least bit dexterous and motivated, you can always make your own. There are loads of informative reading material on this subject via Amazon.com, for example.
You’ll also need a shovel, garden cart/wheel barrel or some type of transporting device that you’ll use to convey the final product to your garden or flower bed, a pitch fork or some other useful type of tool to turn, mix & stir the active compost pile within the container/bin.
A proper balance of microorganisms is necessary for an effective compost pile – don’t worry, those microscopic beings will be there by way of nature. The main thing you have to watch for, is to not have too much green material versus brown material, or else, you’ll end up with a smelly, heaping pile that reeks like garbage.
When I speak of green material, I mean stuff like kitchen scraps (avoid adding meat scraps), fruits, green trimmings, tea bags, fresh manure (chicken, rabbit, cow or horse dung – but only in small quantities), etc. The brown material should be somewhat at a minimum of 3:1 to green material and the optimal ratio is roughly 4:1. Brown material mostly consists of dried leaves and dried grass trimmings – which you can easily accumulate the dried grass trimmings during the spring & summer months and the dried leaves during the autumn season. You can add, but only recommended in small amounts due to the very high carbon content, wood shavings and sawdust (this is especially useful if you have too much green material in your pile).
During the composting process, you’ll need to turn & mix often – as this will help keep the brown & green material balanced and adds oxygen to the pile. The microorganisms need water, food, and air. To enhance the process by adding additional healthy bacteria into the pile, it has been noted that adding a shovel or two of garden soil into the mix, will help speed up the decomposition of waste material. A quick tip for your compost pile: If possible, try to keep the particles & scraps that you add, as small as possible – this makes it easier for the microbes & bacteria to break ’em down. When garden season rolls around, you should have a nice, dark, fertile mass of compost that is ready to be applied to your growing area.
Soil Additive – Wood Ashes as Fertilizer:
If you still use a fireplace or have occasional campfires and you have a garden or flower bed, you might want to save some of those ashes. When used in moderation, wood ashes are a decent soil additive. Ashes will lack when it comes to Nitrogen, so it is better to use this method in conjunction with other additives and fertilizing techniques. The composition is often estimated at: 1.5 – 2% Phosphorous, 4 – 8% Potassium (depending on the type of wood), 25-50% calcium compounds and magnesium carbonate/oxide…along with other trace elements and nutrients. Due to the high amount of calcium & magnesium, wood ashes have the ability to raise the soil PH – this, in turn, is not good if your soil is already alkaline albeit it still takes about twice as much wood ashes to increase the PH as it would if you applied lime to the soil. In most cases, using wood ashes in small amounts only helps your soil’s condition. Also, one shouldn’t apply wood ashes to your garden no more than once a year – due to the risk of elevated PH and salt levels. Please be advised, wood ashes is a big no-no if you’re dealing with certain plants that require and/or thrive in acidic soil conditions.
Conclusion: There are many natural ways to fertilize your garden, I just listed a few. You may want to skip the compost method, if it seems like too much trouble. I know someone personally that fertilizes their garden by saving their tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, and wood ashes during the winter and early spring, and then, simply tills them into the soil (their garden area) each spring. Whatever works, but the main message in this page is: try and be more prone towards organic, natural methods besides synthetic/artificial ways. If you have any particular natural methods of fertilization that has worked for you, feel free to drop them down in the comment field. Good luck and have a great growing season…