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by Fred

I’m hoping to ‘go organic’ this year, and start using only natural and organic fertilizers.

Do you have any suggestions for me? My garden is pretty awful soil, and I want to be able to grow vegetables, or something edible anyway.

I also have a lawn that is in dire need of help – it’s got lots of moss growing among the sparse bits of grass, and some of it is in shade. I also don’t want to do much maintenance, as I tend to be too busy to garden in the summer. If I can get away with the occasional mowing and once in a while thatching or other maintenance, and no irrigation I would be really happy.

Drought Smart Plants reply:

For organic fertilizer, you can’t go wrong with home made compost.

However, even the quickest methods of making compost sometimes don’t yield enough, so you will have to add something else to get it going.

I recommend finding a source of sterilized steer manure, or better yet, some really well composted horse manure.

Don’t ever spread un-composted horse manure on your garden – for two reasons;

One, it will add an astounding variety and quantity of weed seeds, which will be a curse that keeps on giving.

Second, if it’s really fresh manure, it’s possible, in fact, likely that it will burn the plants if it’s too near the tender stems.

Also, it is very high in nitrogen, which can make your plants really healthy and green, but they won’t produce much in the way of fruit if you’re growing tomatoes or other vegetables.

For a small amount of easily transported manure (in the occasional case of not having compost ready), I buy the bagged type from the garden center – they usually have a sale on in the early part of the year, so you can get a bag of sterilized manure (usually chicken, steer or mushroom) for a buck or two.

I use the steer manure on planting beds, but the chicken manure either gets used as an activator in compost piles, or for manure tea. It also can be really high in nitrogen. I shy away from mushroom manure because of the huge quantities of chemical insecticides that they use in some mushroom growing facilities.

Other than that, there are some commercial organic fertilizers like feather meal, blood meal, alfalfa meal and so on, which are fairly pricey, but good for a quick boost.

For your lawn, I recommend a generous sprinkling of dolomite lime, after your infrequent thatching, so as to make the soil a little less friendly to the moss.

If your shade is under coniferous trees, it’s almost guaranteed to be an ongoing battle.

Find some other types of groundcovering plants such as Arctostaphylos – kinnickinnick or bearberry, that actually like acid soil, rather than battling your lawn.

Hopefully this helps with your issues,

See these useful Composting Instructions on O-Garden

Comments for Best Organic Fertilizer?

Jan 07, 2012

Dolomite Lime
by: Fred

What exactly is dolomite lime? Is this the same as hydrated lime? What is the difference? Thank you for your informative answer, that has really helped.

Jan 07, 2012

Different animal
by: Jacki

Hi Fred, no, Dolomite Lime is not the same as Hydrated Lime.

Dolomite Lime is a natural material which contains calcium carbonate, and also magnesium, both of which are needed in moderation for the absorption of nutrients by the plant.

The main use of Dolomite lime is to buffer the pH of the soil, that measurement of acidity (or alkalinity) of the soil.

Many soils where there are coniferous trees such as pine or spruce tend to be more acid based, and plants tend to suffer from a lack of nutrients because they can’t access them. Dolomite lime will help release these nutrients and make them available.

Hydrated Lime is used for mixing with cement to make it more plastic, and can burn plants if spread on gardens or lawns.

See more here: Dolomite Lime