As your garden grows, or doesn’t you might be considering adding fertilizer. Deciding from the bewildering choices you see before you can be overwhelming but here’s why you should opt for organic fertilizers however you get them – from composting to vermiculture to your local store.
Q: What is the difference between a synthetic and a natural fertilizer?
A. Natural fertilizers are organic products that have been extracted from living things or from the earth. They can be either plant-derived or animal-derived. Some examples would be mushroom manure, blood meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal, kelp meal, poultry or horse manure (aged) and compost. Synthetic fertilizers are those composed of the synthesized chemicals of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. In general, natural fertilizers contain lesser amounts of N-P-K than their synthesized counterparts, so you need to use more of them to supply the plant with the required amount of nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium. However, because natural fertilizers add vital organic matter, they also improve soil texture — an important advantage.
Many organic materials serve as both fertilizers and soil conditioners—they feed both soils and plants. This is one of the most important differences between a chemical approach and an organic approach toward soil care and fertilizing. Soluble chemical fertilizers contain mineral salts that plant roots can absorb quickly. However, these salts do not provide a food source for soil microorganisms and earthworms, and will even repel earthworms because they acidify the soil. Over time, soils treated only with synthetic chemical fertilizers lose organic matter and the all-important living organisms that help to build a quality soil. As soil structure declines and water-holding capacity diminishes, more and more of the chemical fertilizer applied will leach through the soil. In turn, it will take ever-increasing amounts of chemicals to stimulate plant growth. When you use organic fertilizers, you avoid throwing your soil into this kind of crisis condition.