2. Liquid Herbal Infusions
Many of the most common plants, even some that are considered pests, can be full of important minerals such as nitrogen, iron, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. These “wonder weeds” include nettle, dandelion, oat straw, horse tail, and comfrey, to name a few.
It’s easy to make a strong infusion from any of these, by chopping them up and allowing them to steep in a bucket of water in the sun. Once the brew is good and strong, it can be used to supplement your vegetables or fruit trees.
Sea vegetables are an excellent source of trace minerals, like sodium, copper, zinc, and more. Many gardeners overlook the importance of these lesser minerals, because they’re so focused on the coveted trio, N-P-K. However, over time soil can become depleted of trace minerals, and plants can really begin to suffer.
Seaweed is sold as liquid or meal (often labeled as kelp). There are many brands available, so check out your local nursery.
4. Mulch With Straw
Mulching is a technique whereby the garden bed is covered with some sort of barrier – in this case straw – either over the winter or in order to prepare a new plot for planting. The benefit of mulching with straw is that the organic matter slowly breaks down and “feeds” the soil. Mulching also encourages worms to live underneath, and worms are the perfect ingredient for healthy, happy dirt.
5. Nitrogen-Fixing Crops
Also called “green manure,” this is another technique that uses actual plants to create an organic fertilizer. The nitrogen-gathering plants are allowed to grow for just a short while, and then they’re tilled into the ground. The cover crops provide a protection from weeds, while turning them under returns the nitrogen to the soil. The most common crops used for green manure are wheat, oats, rye, vetch, clover, peas, and broad beans.
Do you have any other animal-free fertilizing tips or tricks? Let us all know down in the comments!