Organic nutrients have become more popular with growers in recent years. For those not familiar with them, growing with organic nutrients can seem like a daunting task; with too many moving parts to make sense of. When done correctly, growing organic can actually save you money and time when it comes to fertilizing and maintaining a healthy crop. It may seem easy to dismiss some of the more unusual sounding ingredients (Bat guano? Really?!?) but they’re genuinely a positive, integral tool for the aspiring organic grower.
Bacteria are the key that unlocks the power of organic nutrients by breaking them down into usable forms for the plant. All organic nutrients typically need to undergo some sort of decomposition and interaction with bacteria to truly become useful. These bacteria are naturally present in most soils, but can be supplemented with the help of certain products at a very low cost to the grower. Beneficial bacteria products like Tribus Microbes can be added to any growing regimen, including water-based systems, and help support root development and fertilizer uptake.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular organic amendments and what each can do for your plants:
Alfalfa makes a fantastic soil conditioner, and contains a complex assortment of 12 vitamins, multiple minerals, 16 amino acids, and natural triacontanol that improve overall soil and plant health. Alfalfa is also a great source of nitrogen.
Composted Turkey Litter
Turkey Litter Compost provides a stable source of macronutrients with a high carbon to nitrogen ratio. The higher ratio of carbon serves to work together with natural soil biology to create an environment conducive to vigorous plant growth without locking out potential nutrient sources.
Azomite is mined from an ancient volcanic ash deposit in Central Utah, USA which was formed by a volcanic eruption that caused ash to settle into an ancient seabed. Azomite has long been used to restore valuable trace minerals that would otherwise come from mass-produced synthetic sources.
Bat guano is a powerful source of both Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Bat Guano can provide a natural quick release and slow release source for both Phosphorus and Nitrogen.
Blood Meal is an organic nitrogen source derived from dried animal blood. Minimal amounts of blood meal can provide quick bursts of nitrogen – supplementary slow release and other forms of nitrogen can also be used to mitigate the amount of blood meal necessary.
Bone Meal is a wonderful, organic source of phosphorus and calcium. Bone meal slowly breaks down in the soil and that makes it an ideal source for a sustained supply of essential nutrients. It’s a great source of Zinc, Magnesium, and Calcium, and macro nutrients such as Phosphorus and Nitrogen.
Organic crustacean meal is a slow-release nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium source which also contains trace micronutrients. Chitin in crustacean meal provides root zone disease prevention, acts as a microbial habitat, and as a slow release nitrogen source.
Made from ground feathers of chickens, feather meal is an incredibly potent and fast-acting nitrogen source with some slow-release capability as well. Feather meal works in conjunction with soil bacteria to improve overall bioavailability of nitrogen.
Fish Bone Meal
Fish bone meal is a powerful fast-acting phosphorus and calcium source. Fish bone meal breaks down slightly quicker than traditional bone meal, making it a great way to add phosphorus during the bloom phase, while maintaining just enough nitrogen to ease the plant through transition phase as well.
Humic acid has a significant number of benefits, including chelating micronutrients. Chelated micronutrients are less susceptible to leaching and become more readily bioavailable.
Kelp is one of the fastest growing plants on earth, and some species can even average 3 feet of growth per day. This is made possible through a cellulose structure that filters sea water, which contains a plethora of elements and minerals, and stores nutrients. This rapid growth and abundance of minerals make kelp a fantastic, sustainable resource for organic farmers.
A byproduct of the pressing process, neem seed meal contains no neem oil, and no concentrated azadiracthin, but is useful as a soil conditioner, especially in organic farming. Neem seed meal is effective at repelling root borne disease, while also capable of fending off fungus gnats and other pests.
Fossilized seabird guano is a unique additive – the length of time between the deposit of the guanos and harvest allows trace micronutrients to collect in matrix with the guano resulting in a highly effective concoction that can drive flower development and aromatics.
Fish protein works together with the microbiology of your soil, and feeds nitrifying bacteria so that additional bioavailable nitrogen can be readily available for plants.
Yucca contains complex sugars, making it a highly stable carbon source for microorganisms. These organisms help organic matter become bioavailable in the form of mineralized nutrients and help prevent root disease while promoting root growth.
Still not sure where to begin, or how much of these to use to create a nutrient rich organic soil for your crops? Don’t worry! There are products available to growers that have balanced ratios of these ingredients available for each growing phase that can be easily applied during your soil amending or as a top dress.
Our personal favorites are Geoflora Nutrients, which contain a blend of all of the nutrients mentioned above in an easy to use one part formula for each stage of the growing cycle. To read more about Geoflora, visit their website.
Have a hydroponic or garden supply store? Left Coast Wholesale has you covered with wholesale pricing available on Geoflora nutrients in bags from 4 to 50 pounds. If you’re looking for Geoflora nutrients near you, call 800.681.1757 today to find a local Geoflora retailer!
Dialing in the flow rate correctly can be trial and error for a lot of growers, and is usually something they want to be able to do quickly once they’ve isolated the source of their plants ill health. Octo-Flow has the answer to this – and other – irrigation problems. Octo-Flow is an innovative 8 port stationary water irrigation manifold that allows the grower to control the flow rate or turn the flow off/on with a turn of the included hex key. If needed, it can be converted into a full-open version – all with a simple adjustment.
Carbohydrates play a huge role in how a plant develops - provide building blocks for plant structural components, such as cellulose – which helps grow the cell walls – and they help deliver energy for growth. Besides helping to mimic a plant’s natural carbohydrate profile, Karbo Boost brings an ample food source to plant’s cellular building processes. Though cool-season plants tend to have a shorter growing season than those that have had all summer to bloom they still need to be tended and fertilized - Karbo Boost is making sure your plants are getting the food they need – and then some!
It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that a gardener forgo soil completely for their grow, but here are some of the problems a professional horticulturalist may have with soil…
For professional growers, their agriculture is what they depend on, so taking a chance on soil that could end up ruining even a portion of their grow. This is where soilless growing mediums come into play for agriculturalists that want to start with a blank slate where they control how much water, and what nutrients, the plants get from germination until harvest. A soilless medium is a mix of mediums like peat, coco coir, and basalt that can be used in a hydroponic system or in pots and is free of contaminants, has great aeration and drainage abilities, and can allow the grower to apply whatever mix of nutrients they feel is right for their crop.