Five Reasons to Choose Organic Fertilizer

Smart and savvy gardeners have long been aware of the benefits of using organic fertilizers as opposed to chemical fertilizers produced through industrial manufacturing. What began as a grassroots movement has grown to a much larger scale. You can now find organic fertilizers and bags of compost at big box chain stores, though they have been available at many local landscape businesses for decades.

What is Organic Fertilizer?

Organic fertilizers come from plant or animal matter, versus old style chemical fertilizers that are mined or manufactured through chemical and industrial processes. To truly be organic, the animal or plant must also have been raised organically. If that sounds like strict criteria, consider these five reasons why organic fertilizer is the best choice for your garden.

Improve Soil Structure

Many organic fertilizers improve the structure of your garden soil. Any organic material that does not immediately dissolve in water helps to aerate the soil and improve its water holding capacity. This is particularly useful for heavy clay soils. With improved soil structure, plant roots grow deeper and less watering is needed.

Recycle Leftover Products

Leftover materials and byproducts of agricultural and farming practices are often used as organic fertilizers. Examples include cottonseed meal, mushroom compost and bone meal. Even bedding straw and manure swept out of stables and barns fall into this category. These are all materials that would otherwise be disposed of instead of reused. If something has value for your plants and landscape, it belongs in your garden and not a landfill.

Fertilize Less Often

Organic fertilizers release nutrients at a slower rate than chemical fertilizers. This means you don’t need to fertilize as often, helping to balance out the higher cost you may have to pay for organic fertilizer. Keep in mind that many organic fertilizers also add volume or bulk to your soil. This can reduce the need for buying supplemental topsoil to build up your garden.

Less Pollution

The production of industrial and chemical fertilizers is an energy intensive process. Large amounts of fossil fuels are used to produce fertilizer for agricultural purposes. Some fertilizer materials such as phosphate are mined by methods that cause ecological damage and destruction. Excessive amounts of fertilizer in runoff water from fields and lawns leads to algae bloom and unhealthy aquatic systems. This does not happen with organic fertilizers that break down slowly.

Less Burning and Other Damage to Plants

The quick release of nutrients from chemical fertilizers can sometimes have unintended consequences. The most common is leaf burn that occurs when there is too much nitrogen. This is much less likely with slow release organic fertilizer. Large amounts of nitrogen will also throw off the acidity and alkalinity balance in your soil.

If you like the idea of going green, it is clear that organic fertilizers are the best choice for your lawn and garden. Even if the upfront cost is higher, you will have healthier plants and we will all have a healthier environment. You may even find that you end up saving money over time by watering and fertilizing less while your garden looks healthier than ever.

Contact your local expert at The Gardener to discuss organic fertilizing schedules for your property.

Sneaky photo credit to Hitchster under cc 2.0
Applying Fertilizer on Rice Field photo credit to IRRI Photos under cc 2.0

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