If you want to stop bloating your vegetables with polluting chemical fertilizers, it is time for you to familiarize yourself with natural fertilizer!
No need to keep poisoning underground water reserves anymore, nor upsetting delicate local environments with chemical residues.
Feeding the soil fertilizes plants
Follow the lead of pioneering organic vegetable growers. They consider that soil is much more than just basic, sterile soil mix. According to them, it is alive and deeply connected, as if it were a single complex living being.
As a consequence, you needn’t even try to feed the vegetables themselves at all. Your target is to nourish the “biocoenosis“ as a whole (micro-organisms, plants, animals that are part of soil).
Organic matter increases through:
- green manure,
- extracts from nutrient-rich plants (decoctions, fermented tea, etc.)
- or from animal, plant or mineral sources (guano, fishmeal, bone powder, dried blood, seaweed flour, etc.).
Lastly, legume family plants come in very handy to incorporate atmospheric nitrogen into soil at root level.
Green manure for the vegetable patch
These plants are sown and then buried into the ground to enrich it in nutrients. This technique is called “green manure“.
- Rye also has the advantage of suffocating weeds;
- Oats additionally repels flies away from cabbage, onion and carrot;
- Mustard volunteers phosphorus;
- Phacelia attracts bees;
- Crimson clover captures nitrogen from the air into light, slightly acidic soils;
- Lupine, medick and spinach provide nitrogen to poor soil.
Plants for fermented tea fertilizer
Great nettle (Urtica dioica) is rich in nitrogen and various trace elements (iron, for instance). Fermented stinging nettle tea has many potential applications: fertilizer, compost activator, insect repellent, etc.
Russian comfrey plays a part similar to that of nettles, with fermented comfrey tea.
Any plant material chopped and tossed in a pail to rot will break down into very effective fertilizer. Mushrooms, pictured above, contain lots of rare nutrients.
Other sources of natural fertilizer
They are extremely diverse and space lacks us to list them all! We’ll simply mention two:
- bone powder contain both phosphorus and nitrogen, whereas
- seaweed powder, on the other hand, is replete with trace elements (magnesium, iron, copper, iodine, etc.).
Quite a lot of healthy home waste can also serve to enrich soil, too.
These can be amended directly into earth in the vegetable patch in fall or through the compost. Note that whole bones and powder release nutrients over years, and powder shortens it to months.
Pierrick the organic gardener
Smart tip about natural fertilizers
When using seaweed, remember to rinse salt out of it or you’ll make your soil barren. Simply set it outside on a table or wire tray at waist height and let rain soak through it several times for the salt to wash away.
Pixabay: Andreas Göllner, JF Gabnor, Андрей Архипов, Reinhard Thrainer
shutterstock: Siamlian Ngaihte
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