At the heart of all organic growing is the art and science of fertilizing organically. Healthy soil nurtures healthy plants which generally grow better, taste better, store longer and consequently, should have increased resistance to the stresses caused by heat, cold, drought, pests, diseases, rapid growth, etc. Fertile soil is not only the first step for increasing yields and quality but also for natural pest control and season extending.
The best way to evaluate your own situation is to start with a soil test. We offer a Soil Analysis Report, appropriate for both commercial and homescale growers. It includes all the lab readings you'll need to begin building your soil organically. Your field or garden is a dynamic ecosystem. The relationship between plants and living soil changes seasonally, monthly and daily. For this reason, most successful organic commercial growers regularly monitor their soil using lab tests and field monitoring tools (eg. nitrate test strips, field meters, etc., see Monitoring Tools). It is also important for homescale growers to get occasional lab tests, which can be supplemented with soil tests. See more on soil testing.
A successful fertilizing program addresses the soil's long-term needs by adjusting deficient nutrients with organic fertilizers and soil amendments. We offer the largest selection of organic fertilizers in the U.S. Use your soil test and/or the general guidelines given ahead to determine which fertilizers will be of most value to you. An equally important aspect of soil building is adding a "green manure" cover crop to your crop rotation in order to build organic matter, nitrogen and biological life in your soil. See more on composting and cover crops.
Find the solution for your soil in our Fertilizer Solution Chart. You will be able to quickly identify products appropriate for your circumstances. Virtually every soil will benefit from regular additions of organic matter and humus. We feel that compost (in combination with a good cover crop program) is the best material to handle this important task. By compost we mean a material completely broken down aerobically and based upon animal manures and plant residues rather than woodchips. Raw manures are not a substitute for compost. Raw manure breaks down in the soil, tying up water, nitrogen, and other vital resources in the process. It often introduces weed seeds and pathogens, loses nutrients as it breaks down, and must be applied at 4 to 5 times the rate of compost. Raw manures definitely should not be used right before harvesting a crop.
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