Organic Fertilizers Are Easier On The EnvironmentBy
Organic fertilizer is plant food that has been created using the natural carbon in plants and animals. Often organic fertilizers are made from plant and animal byproducts or waste products. Organic liquid fertilizers are also made from natural elements and can even be made at home (as fertilizing ‘teas’) using various natural substances like compost and egg shells.
Organic fertilizer carries the same number formula that synthetic fertilizers do. These three numbers, which are always separated by dashes (such as 12-24-10), refer to the three major nutritional elements in plant food: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Sometimes this ratio is abbreviated as N-P-K (the ‘K’ stands for potassium) or is just called the ‘N-P-K’ ratio.
So, for example, an organic fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 12-24-10 is made of 12% nitrogen, 24% phosphorus, and 10% potassium. Understanding the percentage of each nutrient in the mixture is important because each one feeds a different part of the plant.
Nitrogen feeds the leaves and foliage of the plant and makes the plant green. Blood meal is an example of an organic fertilizer that is very high in nitrogen. Bat, rabbit, and bird guano are also organic fertilizers that are very high in nitrogen.
Phosphorus feeds the part of the plant that creates a strong root system and encourages lots of buds and flowers. Phosphorus is also good for encouraging fruit to set. An organic fertilizer that is naturally high in phosphorus is bone meal.
Finally, potassium is necessary for the overall health and proper functioning of all plants, whether they are mostly flowers or mostly leaves. Potassium is usually the least plentiful element in any organic fertilizer. A good example of an organic compound that is rich in potassium is pot ash or charcoal.
Some organic fertilizers contain biochar, a charcoal-like substance high in potassium and other plant nutrients that is created by burning plant material and using the ash as food. All organic fertilizers are required to show the percentage of each nutrient that is synthetic and the percentage that is organic after each N-P-K number so the buyer knows how high the organic carbon content really is.
Organic fertilizers are easier on the environment and contain fewer artificial chemicals than synthetic fertilizers. Make sure you know what kind of fertilizer formula is best for the specific plant you want to feed. A high nitrogen fertilizer encourages strong leaf growth. A high phosphorus fertilizer is good for flowers and root systems.
A good all-purpose organic fertilizer will have a ration of roughly 1-2-1. Look for a high middle number when in doubt, and make sure you research your plant and the organic fertilizer best suited for its specific needs before you buy.