Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Organic Fertilizers–Part 6–Other Sources

Other Good Organic Fertilizers 

We have looked at the sources of organic fertilizers from Plants, Animals, and Sea Sources.  The alfalfa, corn, cotton and soybean plants offer good safe nutrients to the soil.  The food chain is not impacted by these products since the debris of the stems, stalks, and hulls is used for this organic material.

Manures, blood meal, and bone meal create excellent sources of nutrients. Here again, the materials used here are either remnants of the slaughtering process, or the waste from the animals themselves.
The ocean offers kelp, and fish to add to this list of organic fertilizers. Kelp is harvested in such a way that it regrows with a few weeks making this a highly sustainable resource of organic fertilizer.  And the fish industry removes the food portion of the fish, and the scraps are ground and processed into the fish fertilizer we use. 

A few other sources I’d like to bring attention to are great in nutrient values and I'd like to mention them here. 
comfrey w blooms by AlyssssyIA
Comfrey blossoms

Comfrey – Is a  fast growing plant with large leaves and deep roots.  These roots are able to collect nutrients from the soil and make this plant a good source of nutrients.  Livestock feed on comfrey, and the leaves can be used to make liquid fertilizer.  By soaking these leaves for 4-5 weeks, a nutritious and smelly ‘tea’  is created.  This liquid fertilizer can be used around the garden once it is diluted 15:1.
The comfrey leaves can also be used as a compost activator. They quickly breaking down to a thick black liquid. The comfrey roots are high in potassium, and the leaves are high in nitrogen.

bonfire ash by jon Smith
Bonfire Ash
Bonfire Ash – is the remains of wood.  It is alkaline (pH higher than 7) and has lots of minerals like potassium and calcium.  Fireplace ash can be spread around the garden, and tilled into the soil. 

nettles by me'nthedogs Mark Robinson

 Nettles – are Prickly. Using gloves to harvest these leaves is essential.  Once the fresh, young stems are gathered, crush them and soak in a covered container for 3-4 weeks.  Nettle ‘tea’ should be diluted one part tea to 10 parts water.  Use a a foliar spray or douse soil around the garden.  The nettles are a good source of nitrogen.  Since this is a weed, it can be cut twice a season for an endless source of nutrient.  Studies have show that even manure of cattle who have a diet of nettles is more nutritious.

buckwheat as cover crop
Buckwheat as cover crop - OSU

Cover crops, or Green Manures – This practice of covering the garden with a crop works if you have a nice sized vegetable garden.  The sowing of rye grass or clover in the fall is going to add nutrients to the soil when, in spring, this material is tilled into the garden to decompose.Some plants in the legume family increase nitrogen in the soil as well.  Cover crops can reduce weeds by shading the weed seed from germinating. The nutrients this ‘crop’ returns to the soil when tilled in is benefitting the micro-organisms as organic matter that is decomposing.

This return of nutrients to the soil from these sources is often overlooked, but hopefully, we can try some of these in our own space.

Have you used nettles or comfrey?  Wood ashes?  Do you plant a cover crop?  What plant have you found to be beneficial?  Let us know.  Thanks.
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