10 Types of Organic Fertilizers

Do your plants keep dropping leaves? Are your plants turning different colors? Both of these are signs that your plants are crying out for help, but your gardening methods may not be to blame.


When plants exhibit these signs, it’s likely there is an imbalance in your soil that’s harming them. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to improve the state of your soil.


Today, we’re looking at 10 types of organic fertilizer you can use to improve the soil of your home garden.


1.Worm Castings (NPK ratio 2-1-1)


Before you do anything, you should test your soil’s pH level. This will give you a better understanding of how to improve the acidity. Then, consider using something mild that cannot burn your plants.


Earthworm castings are ideal for any organic garden and rich with live biological organisms including:


  • Fungi
  • Actinomycetes
  • Beneficial bacteria
  • Pseudo monads
  • Plant growth regulators
  • Yeasts, molds
  • Trace elements
  • Ideal NPK ratios


Get to know more about worm castings. Click here.


2.Corn Gluten Meal (NPK ratio 0.5-0.5-1)


You’ll find trace amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate in corn gluten meal, which makes it a good soil stabilizer. The only downside is that it works a little bit slower than other organic fertilizers. Add corn gluten meal to your Iowa garden in the fall so it has time to break down over the winter months.


3.Rock Phosphate (NPK ratio 0-5-0)


Fertilizer made from ground up rocks doesn’t sound particularly useful, but you might be surprised by the magic rock phosphate can perform. Rock phosphate contains high levels of phosphate (obviously) as well as other critical nutrients. Most gardeners use this fertilizer because it contains elements that don’t dissolve easily in water.


4.Cow Manure (NPK ratio 2.5-1.1.5)


You can depend on manure for high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It works on gardens at a moderate speed and improves organic compost. If you choose to work with cow manure, keep the following in mind:


  • Some weeds will survive being digested by the cows
  • Avoid manure from industrial operations as it contains high amounts of salt
  • Regular cow manure can burn plants


5.Chicken/Poultry Manure (NPK ratio 3.5-1.5-1.5)


Poultry manure has higher amounts of the three main nutrients compared to cow manure. It often works faster than cow manure, which is why many Iowa gardeners use it.


Use poultry manure after you’ve harvested your crops or before you start a new growing season. Try to avoid using too much as this can burn your plants too!


6.Greensand (NPK ratio 1-1-5)


This organic fertilizer comes from ancient sea beds and is high in calcium. It also contains vast amounts of:


  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Other trace elements

7.Compost (NPK ratio 2-1.5-1.5)


The nutrients in organic compost vary widely depending on what’s put in it. Typically, it’s often close to cow manure and many people prefer to use compost in their gardens because they can control the nutrients that go into their compost. Iowa gardeners also choose compost because it can be made for free and works at a moderate pace.


8.Soybean Meal (NPK ratio 7-2-0)


High in nitrogen, soybean meal contains low amounts of phosphorus and calcium. The condition of your soil will determine how quickly soybean meal is absorbed but it is an excellent long-term soil conditioner.


9.Blood Meal (NPK ratio 12-1.5-0.5)


Made from the blood of butchered livestock, blood meal is high in nitrogen and acidic. When using blood meal, you run a higher risk of burning your plants compared to when you use milder fertilizers such as worm castings.


10.Bone Meal (NPK ratio 4-20-0)


Made from ground up cow bones, this fertilizer is high in phosphorus and nitrogen. Use this when you need a fertilizer that works at a moderate speed and when you’re growing:

  • Flowering plants
  • Bulbs
  • Fruit trees


11.Feather Meal (NPK ratio 12-0-0)


Best for use prior to planting, feather meal contains no calcium or phosphorus. It works at moderate speeds but it will give your soil a nutrient boost during the conditioning process.

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