Organic fertilizers are important for building soil and plant health. They have many benefits including adding micronutrients to the soil, feeding worms, increasing soil bacterial diversity and improving drainage. Organic fertilizers can improve sandy and clay soil and help plants grow healthy and strong.
This article will explore 11 amazing benefits of adding organic fertilizers to your garden at home.
1. Feeds plants micronutrients and minerals
Organic fertilizers add key micronutrients and minerals to the soil that plant need to grow well. This includes calcium, iron and zinc which plants will need in small amounts. Organic fertilizers will contain varying amount of these nutrients which will be naturally released into the soil. Plant are able to absorb as much as they need giving them a small and balanced dose.
2. Feeds worms
Organic fertilizers have the added benefit of containing organic matter that feeds worms. Worms love to eat the organic matter from animal manures and compost, breaking them down into the soil. Worms help your plants and soil by breaking down the organic materials and making the nutrients available to the plants.
Worms will create tiny air pocket which will allow plant roots room to grow and spread further to stabilize the plant and to grow large and healthy. Worms are great for your garden and adding organic fertilizers can help to feed and attract them to your garden.
3. Feeds soil bacteria
Organic fertilizers will feed soil bacteria which love to eat and break down organic matter. They will break down and release the nutrients including nitrogen from the fertilizer so the plants can absorb it. Bacteria also form fantastic food for other creatures including worms which will feed on the bacteria as they break down the organic matter.
A good soil bacteria balance is important for soil and plant healthy. You can improve this balance by adding organic fertilizers to feed them and increase diversity.
4. Increases organic matter in the soil
Adding organic fertilizers has amazing benefit of adding organic matter to the soil alongside nutrients. Rather than just adding the soil nutrients on their own, organic fertilizers made from plant material or animal manures also contain carbon material which helps with soil structure.
Organic pelleted chicken manure for example will contain materials from the chickens’ bedding including straw which will be added to your soil like compost. It helps to improve the soil over time and feed worms and good soil bacteria.
5. Helps the soil to hold water
Organic fertilizers that contain organic matter will help to increate the amount of water the soil can hold. The organic matter holds water well and captures it in the soil rather than letting it run right through.
This structure is great for plants as they will have water for longer allowing them to survive through summer easier. Organic fertilizers help the soil to hold consistent amounts of water which is great for growing fruit and vegetables.
6. Helps with drainage and aeration
Another great benefit of organic fertilizers is that they help with drainage and aeration. Adding organic fertilizers like animal manures or compost helps to create more air pockets which allows excess water to drain through slowly. The air is also great for soil health as it will help with aerobic bacterial growth and creating balance in your soil.
7. Can be used as a mulch
Organic material can be mixed into the soil or also layered on top of the soil as a mulch. Adding a 2-3 inch layer of compost or aged animal manures can have all of the benefits without disturbing the plants roots. It will help to keep water in the soil, break down slowly feeding worms and help to prevent weeds.
Top dressing citrus trees with organic fertilizers like aged manures is a great way to add extra fertilizer gently to the soil and avoid damaging surface feeder roots of the citrus trees. You can cover this top dressing with a layer of bark chips to keep the water in the soil for longer.
For more on top dressing citrus trees, check out my previous article here: How to top dress citrus trees | The Easy Way
8. Low cost
Another great benefit of organic fertilizer is that it is low cost. Animal manures, compost and even worm castings can be made at home for free or bought at a small cost at a garden center. Bags of animal manure are by far the cheapest fertilizers you can buy. Always look for aged manures or you will need to break them down in your compost before adding them to your garden.
Bags of aged cow and chicken manure can start from as little as $5 from a garden center and compost can be made at home for free. Break down food scraps in a small worm farm and the worm castings can be sprinkled across your garden soil to feed your plants.
9. Improves sandy soil
Organic fertilizers are important for improving sandy soil. Adding compost and aged manures will increase the water holding capacity of sandy soil allowing plants to grow bigger and faster.
Sandy soil can be improved over time by slowly adding organic materials which will mix through the sand and allow you to increase the range of plants you can grow and make it easier to grow vegetables.
10. Improves clay soil
Organic fertilizers can also help to improve clay soils. They can help to aerate and improve drainage of the clay and to free up the natural nutrients that exist in the soil. Clay soils are fantastic for growing vegetables but will need some organic additions to help them drain. Mix through compost and aged manures and your vegetables will grow incredibly well.
11. Healthy plant roots
The last benefit of organic fertilizers is that they will help your plants to grow healthy root systems. The root system is the key to plant health and organic fertilizers will deliver nutrients, water and air to help the roots to grow.
Best organic fertilizers
My favorite organic fertilizers come in 3 main categories including animal manures, compost and worm castings. Here are my favorite organic fertilizers to add to your garden.
Cow, sheep, chicken, horse, alpaca or any other animal that eats grain or plant materials. Avoid using manures from animals that eat meat including cats and dogs. Always break down any fresh manure in your compost for 6 months to prevent it burning your plants.
Compost is the best all round organic substance that you can add to your soil to add structure, water holding capacity and gently feed your plants. Make compost at home in a compost bag or bin and in 6 months you will have great organic fertilizer for our garden. The compost will be made up of nutrients from the ingredients you add so mix through a range of materials including fall leaves, food scraps and coffee grounds.
Worm castings are like garden gold and a small amount will go a long way to improve your soil. You can mix a handful of worm castings through a bucket of water and water your plants. You can sprinkle it on the surface of soil or mix a small amount through potting soil.
Commercial slow release or liquid fertilizers
For the easiest way to add nutrients to your soil organically is to buy commercially compressed organic fertilizer or liquid fertilizers. Pelleted chicken manure is my favorite easy to use fertilizer that can be sprinkled on the soil. You can also get liquid versions that can be added to your watering can.
These fertilizers will release nutrients over 2-6 months depending on how they are made and are a simple way to give your plants a feed.
Importance of organic fertilizers for soil and plants | Summary
Organic fertilizers are a great way to improve your soil to grow healthy plants. You have many choices including aged animal manures, compost, worm castings or commercial versions. Look out for aged manures which are low cost and can be applied to the top of your soil if you have established plants. Mix them into the soil if you are preparing your vegetable bed and you will have great produce.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.