Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden With Natural Materials
The easiest way to add beneficial nutrients to your vegetable garden is to buy bags of fertilizer at your local lawn and garden store. The problem with taking this simple route is that synthetic fertilizers contain chemicals. Some of these chemicals end up as runoff in our waterways, which is not very eco-friendly. Don’t forget that the chemicals will also end up in your vegetables. Synthetic fertilizers cost more because it takes more to do the job than organic fertilizers. And applying synthetic fertilizers actually kills many of the microorganisms the soil needs. Those are just some of the reasons why you should know how to fertilize your vegetable garden using natural materials.
Types of Common Organic Fertilizers
Organic fertilizer is “fertilizer that is derived from animal or vegetable matter,” according to Dictionary.com. You can buy bags of organic fertilizers. Check the labels to make sure there are no synthetic ingredients. You can also use other types of natural fertilizers to add nutrients to your vegetable garden. Plants primarily need a sufficient amount of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium to grow strong and healthy. Organic fertilizers contain at least one of these components, if not more.
Chicken and horse manure are the most commonly used animal by-products, but you can also use cow, hog, sheep, rabbit and goat manure. Because fresh manure is loaded with nitrogen, you need to let it “age” before applying it to your vegetable garden. Check out the USDA’s manure management site for manure aging guidelines.
How Much Animal Manure To Use
How much manure your vegetable garden will need depends on the condition of the soil. As a general rule of thumb, use at least 25 pounds of cow, horse or hog manure per 100 square feet of garden space. To use chicken or sheep manure, you’ll need at least 12 pounds per 100 square feet. For rabbit and goat manure, use 10 to 12 pounds per 100 square feet. Apply the “aged” manure at least four weeks before planting your vegetable garden; it needs to be tilled into the soil.
Compost is another organic fertilizer that’s beneficial to your garden soil. Not only is it natural, but it adds nutrients and recycles waste at the same time. Since different materials add different nutrients, your compost should consist of a variety of materials such as used coffee grounds, tree leaves, pine needles, banana peels, fruit rinds, crushed eggshells, straw and grass clippings. Compost piles are basically layers of these materials. You need to keep the pile moist and turn it over occasionally. Once the materials have completely decomposed, which takes anywhere from a couple months to a year, they will be ready to fertilize your vegetable garden.
To use compost, another safe and eco-friendly method of fertilization, spread it over the soil at least three weeks before you plant. Use at least 25 pounds per 100 square feet of garden space.
Kassidy Emmerson is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a gardener or more garden articles at Yodle Consumer Guide. Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden With Natural Materials