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Best Fertilizer Alternatives for the Garden Beds

We all know that fertilizers are essential to any plant’s health and growth. But the truth is not all fertilizers are created equal. Not only can they be expensive, but they can also contain harmful chemicals and additives.

So what’s a gardener to do? Here are some alternatives to traditional fertilizers you can try in your garden.

Worm Castings  

Worm castings contain a lot of beneficial microbes that help plants thrive. These microbes include nitrogen-fixing bacteria (Rhizobium) that convert nitrogen from the air into a form usable by plant roots; mycorrhizal fungi that form symbiotic relationships with plant roots; and aerobic bacteria that break down organic matter into humus for better absorption of water and nutrients by plants.

Worm castings also contain vitamins A, B1 through B12, folic acid, and biotin — all necessary for plant growth. They also have calcium carbonate from shells left behind by earthworms as they tunnel through the soil while searching for food. The calcium carbonate helps.

Worm Castings  
Worm Castings  

Hugelkultur  

Hugelkultur is a German word meaning “hill culture.” It’s a method of growing plants in raised beds, including burying part of the bed under layers of woody material, such as logs or branches. The idea is that this creates ideal conditions for plants to draw moisture from the soil and grow better than they would in standard garden beds.

Hugelkultur has been used in Europe for centuries but is relatively new to the United States. It’s gaining popularity because it’s an easy way to create raised beds without lumber or concrete.

The main benefit of hugelkultur is that it can help keep your garden bed cool by allowing air circulation between layers of woody materials and soil. This helps prevent overheating during hot weather and makes it easier for plants to thrive during warm weather months when they need abundant water.

Hugelkultur  
Hugelkultur  

Grass Clippings 

Grass clippings are a great fertilizer alternative for your garden beds. They contain nitrogen, one of the three nutrients for healthy plant growth.

Grass clippings also contain other essential nutrients that plants need to grow, including phosphorus and potassium. The amount of nutrients in grass clippings depends on the grass you have in your lawn.

To use grass clippings as fertilizer, mow your lawn and throw them into your garden bed after they’ve dried out a bit. You can also compost them first to ensure they don’t contain harmful chemicals or pesticides that would harm your plants if you used them directly from the lawn.

Grass Clippings 
Grass Clippings 

Aquarium Water  

Aquarium water is an excellent fertilizer alternative. It contains a high amount of dissolved oxygen, which plants need to grow. The water will also have many minerals that plants need, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. In addition to being a good fertilizer alternative, aquarium water can be used as a soil drench or foliar spray. You should dilute aquarium water before using it on your plants because it can be too strong for them otherwise.

To use aquarium water as a foliar spray, dilute the solution with 1 part aquarium water and 9 parts distilled water (or distilled/rainwater). To use it as a soil drench, add 1 tablespoon of aquarium water per gallon of soil or potting medium (2 tablespoons per gallon if you use sandy soil).

Aquarium Water  
Aquarium Water  

Food scraps  

Food scraps are a great source of nutrients for your garden. If you have a compost pile, it can be used to fertilize your plants. However, if you don’t have a compost pile or want to try something new, you can use your food scraps directly in your garden bed.

Food scraps can be added to the soil directly after they have been cooked. This will help with decomposition and provide nutrients to the plants as they grow. Some types of food are better than others for this application. For example, meat products should not be added to the soil because they attract pests such as ants and flies.

Food scraps
Food scraps

Biofertilizers

 Biofertilizers are becoming popular because they are made from natural ingredients such as compost, manure, fish waste, and seaweed extracts. Biofertilizers are rich in nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, making them ideal for promoting healthy plant growth. However, they take a long time to break down and release these nutrients into the soil, so they should be used sparingly.

Biofertilizers
Biofertilizers

Conclusion

As you can see, many of these alternatives are entirely natural. Look for them at your local nursery or garden center to develop fertilizer blends. Remember to follow the directions on whatever fertilizer you use and the planting directions for whichever plants you add to the compost pile. Finding a combination that works best for you and your garden is the key.

even

Gardening blogger

Meet Even, a distinguished collaborator at Green Giant. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the niche of raised garden bed cultivation, she brings an unparalleled depth of knowledge to our team. Her expertise, honed over years of experimental gardening, provides an insightful perspective on the practicalities and nuances of this unique form of horticulture.

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