Organic Fertilizers

What is organic fertilizer?

An organic fertilizer is one which is derived from organic materials – plant or animal substances. All are compounds of carbon. Some of these materials, such as cottonseed meal, bone meal, tankage, and castor pomace, may add small amounts of humus as well as nutrients to the soil. Others, such as urea or ureaform, may not add humus.

What is best for a vegetable garden, compost or chemicals?

Use both. They complement each other. Compost is organic but is not a balanced fertilizer, while a chemical fertilizer contains no organic matter to supply humus.

What fertilizers are best for loose soil? Loose soil will be benefited by the incorporation of organic matter, to increase the humus. The use of commercial fertilizer does not depend upon the soil structure.

What causes soil to crack in dry weather? Heavy soils will crack unless sufficient organic matter is present to prevent cohesion of the fine particles.

Is bone meal a good fertilizer for all plants? No. Bone meal is a safe fertilizer to use, but it contains no potash and only a small amount of nitrogen. Although high in phosphorus, this element is released very slowly. Based on amount of essential ingredients contained, it is more expensive than some chemical fertilizers. However, gardeners use it for many purposes.

Miscellaneous Organic Materials

Is crab meal a good fertilizer? Fresh crab contains 2 to 3% nitrogen and 2 to 3% phosphoric acid. Its immediate efficiency is relatively low. Mixed fertilizer made with dried and ground king crab may contain 9 to 12% nitrogen.

Can crab meal be used on most garden plants with benefit? Yes. Its cost will govern the extent of its use.

Is charcoal good to add to soil to help plants? Yes, it adds a small amount of phosphorus and considerable potash and lime. These materials, however, as found in charcoal, becomes available very slowly.

Are rotted cranberries good as a fertilizer? They would add a small amount of organic matter, but very small quantities of the essential elements for plant growth.

What effect is caused on soil by a daily application of coffee grounds? Tests at the U.S.D.A. indicate that coffee grounds are slightly toxic to plant growth. Small amounts added to compost are harmless but of little value.

Some people say that soapy water is beneficial to soil and growth of vegetation. Is this so? Soapy water is not beneficial, and sometimes injurious if large amounts are poured in one spot, particularly where soap contains naphtha.

What fertilizer value is there in eggshells? Eggshells contain a considerable quantity of calcium, and a very small amount of nitrogen. Crush or grind them.

What about burying fish trimmings deep in the earth? Fish remains make an excellent fertilizer. Burty them just deep enough to avoid objectionable odors.

I’m burying all my garbage around the plants. Do you think this will be sufficient fertilizer? No; garbage at its best is a very low-grade fertilizer; it is excellent to add humus, but should be supplemented by a complete fertilizer.

Can leather dust be used as a garden fertilizer? Leather dust contains some nitrogen, but it decomposes very slowly, so that quick results should not be expected.

Is sawdust good to put on a garden? It can be used to lighten soil and as a mulch. If applied at a rate of more than 1 in., sawdust must have added nitrogen to decay.

I have some very fine sawdust, of white pine. What would be its effect if worked into soil in which vegetables or flowers are planted? It should help lighten your soil if it’s heavy. Do not use thicker than 1 in.

How does one prepare kelp and other common seaweeds (which wash up on beaches along Long Island) sound for fertilizer? If conditions are such that it can be done, the kelp can be handled as a green manure or plowed or spaded under. Otherwise, it can be composted and applied at an opportune time.

What value is sea kelp as fertilizer? Sea kelp is high in potash, will compare favorably with farm manure in nitrogen, but is low in phosphorus.

Where can I buy sea kelp in Iowa for fertilizer? Most of the sea kelp is processed for liquid fertilizer on the West or East coasts. In its natural state, it is too bulky to be shipped any distance.

Can sea kelp be used immediately, or must it be stored? Sea kelp is used fresh as a green manure by farmers and gardeners near the seashore. For shipping, it is dried, then burned to an ash. In this state it can be used at once, ore store. The ash contains about 30% potash.

Are other seaweeds as valuable as a fertilizer as sea kelp? Seaweeds vary considerably in nutritive value. They are worth using if readily available.

Will you please tell me if seaweed is any good to use as a fertilizer. If so, how can I use it for best results, as I live on the seashore? I can get all the seaweed I need. Seaweed is a good fertilizer. For one who can get the material fresh it is best used as a green manure spread on the land and turned under. It need not be washed.

What soil-conditioning property has chimney soot? When is it applied? Scotch soot from the peat-burning fireplaces was a reasonably good source of nitrogen. Soot from stokers, etc., contains toxic substances. Oil-burner soot can be harmful.