Organic Fertilizer


Organic fertilizer must not contain any artificial ingredients or ingredients manufactured by an artificial process. This means that most commercial fertilizers are not considered organic...

But as with any definition there are exceptions. For example, suppose someone collects bat guano (pictured below) by hand to market as an organic fertilizer and processes the guano by drying it out in huge machines, crushing it to powder and filling plastic bags in some mechanical process. Would this guano still be considered organic? Even though it was processed artificially by machines, if it contains no artificial byproducts then it's considered organic... guano, an organic fertilizer

For the small-time hydroponics hobbyist such as us, organic begins to mean something we can manufacture at home out of recycled organic ingredients such as compost, compost tea and even blends like the organic Mittleider mixture mentioned elsewhere in this site.

These homemade mixtures may make us 'feel good' and may even save us money but they have three drawbacks: first they are messy and very smelly so are pretty much suited for outdoor systems only and second, they take foresight, planning and extra time to produce and lastly, you can never be exactly sure how much needed nutrient is in your particular mixture.

In spite of this, making your own organic blend can be very interesting as well as satisfying. So onwards to the recipes....

The Mittleider Blend

This is an excellent mixture used successfully with tomato plants in raised Mittleider organic beds.

Here is a recipe per gallon of water:

  • 1.5 teaspoons powdered fish emulsion
  • 1.5 teaspoons liquid seaweed extract
  • 1 tablespoon bloodmeal

Compost Tea

Compost Tea is made by soaking compost in water and straining off the liquid. It is high in nitrogen, phosphorus and many trace elements making it the perfect organic fertilizer. Since the richness of a compost tea depends on the ingredients it helps to begin with a well made compost pile.

Compost piles contain all kinds of organic ingredients from coffee grounds to lettuce - in other words, any kind of organic kitchen waste. As this waste rots, microorganisms consume the waste and excrete nitrogen and other needed plant nutrients in the 'composting' process.

This process is self sustaining in that bacterial action actually raises the temperature of the compost pile producing a better environment for the microorganisms which speeds up the composting process. So neat, tightly packed compost piles will retain more heat than loosely organized piles.

Compost is ready to use when the pile has turned into a crumbly, rich dirt. One of the best ingredients for a compost pile is manure or dung which turns into nitrogen rich compost. If using any kind of manure make sure you do not introduce it to your plants until it is well composted or it's extreme acidic makeup will burn your plant's roots.

Worm Tea

Worm excretions are called 'castings' and contain a rich blend of plant nutrients as well as beneficial bacteria and microorganisms. These castings can be found in any compost pile but contain so many beneficial plant nutrients and microorganisms we cannot ignore their value as a fertilizer.

The way to make is to soak some worm castings in water and strain it off. This resultant tea can be used as liquid fertilizer or as insect repellent for your plants. Gardening centers are now selling tea bags of worm castings in their organic sections. Click here for a more complete explanation of worm tea.

Whatever you try from this page I'd be very interested to know how it worked out for you....good luck!


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