There are many different fertilizer options available on the market, and to a new gardener, it could be overwhelming. Some are synthetic, and some are organic. Whichever you choose to use is entirely up to you. I am not here to tell one is better than the other just here to clarify which ones are my favorites and staples in my garden.
When it comes to fertilizers I will say this, for a new gardener synthetic fertilizers are easier, as they will get you the results to keep you motivated and excited about gardening, but these results come at a cost. Read about the difference here.
These fertilizers listed below are not ranked in any order. These are just staples in my organic regimen at one time or another.
Compost- I don't know if there is a better all-around the gardening amendment. Compost improves the consistency and health of the soil, helps increase and feed the soil microbes, helps suppress plant diseases and pests, increases the nutrient content of soil, and can decrease the need for additional fertilizers. Before I add any other fertilizers, I add compost to my beds and around the base of the plants.
Earthworm Castings- Castings are the by-product of vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is a way organic materials are composted using specific breeds of earthworms. They are kept in a bedding material and fed the same materials you would add into a compost bin. As the worms eat the bedding and organic matter, it is digested then excreted in a rich, natural product called castings.
Castings are a beautiful hummus-material that contains high saturation of nutrients, microbes, enzymes, phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, and hormones. The castings slowly release the nutrients needed for healthy plant growth throughout all stages of the plant's life.
Castings help improve the soil structure and root zone by contributing to build up the organic matter in the soil/growing medium. This helps strengthen a plant's immune system and decreases the plant's vulnerability to pests and diseases. Castings also increase the production rates for all flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
Azomite- Glacier rock dust. An ancient deposit of marine minerals and ammonium silicate clay. It contains over 40 micronutrients and trace minerals. It can help revitalize depleted and leached soils. heavy in calcium, Magnesium, and trace minerals. It is a slow-releasing source of trace minerals for plant immunity and tolerance of temperature extremes, improves growth rate, improves the color of plants and fruits, decreases fruit drop, and helps the overall health of plants.
Kelp/Seaweed- These products contain dissolved ocean minerals, and contain over 60 trace minerals, amino acids, vitamins, and growth hormones. It is relatively low in nitrogen and phosphorus and high in potassium. Kelp/seaweed works great on seedlings and transplants, and acts as a growth stimulant.
Blood Meal- This is a byproduct of slaughterhouses. This is the dried and powdered blood of the animals. It is extremely high in nitrogen but be careful, if not used sparingly the high nitrogen value can and will burn your plants. Can continuously feed the garden with Nitrogen for over 2 months. If you are vegan or opposed to slaughterhouses, this may not be the fertilizer for you. Has the ability to repel rabbits and deers if used as a top dressing.
Bone Meal- This is a byproduct of slaughterhouses. Steamed, crushed, and ground animal bones. Low in nitrogen and potassium but high in phosphorus. Great for root crops and promotes flowering. Since it comes from bones, it is also high in calcium and trace elements. Lasts 6-12 months.
Guano- Is the decomposed excrement of bats and seabirds. One of my favorite fertilizers. Depending on the region and diet of the where the bats lived, the NPK values will be different.
Bats that have a diet high in fruits, Jamaican, Indonesian, and Madagascan bat guano, will have a higher phosphorus value. Bats with a higher insect diet, Mexican and Desert bats, will have a higher nitrogen content.
Seabird guans have marine trace elements, and because of their diet, they are high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium. All types contain beneficial microbes that will increase the quantity and diversity of the soil food web.
Fish Fertilizer- A solution made from the whole fish or parts of a fish. It comes in two forms, a fish hydrolysate or an emulsion. The hydrolysate is a superior product. It is cold presses and retains all of the oils, amino acids, vitamins, hormones, and enzymes.
Fish emulsion is made in a high heat process. This process kills or separates off all the essential oils from the end product. Both of the products deliver a quick burst of nitrogen to plants. If you have ever started tomatoes from seeds and seen the underside of the leaves turn purple then one application of tfish fertilizer will remedy that issue.
Cotton Seed meal- A byproduct of the cotton industry. The meal is what remains after the cotton and has been ginned, and the seeds have been crushed. It is a slow-release fertilizer that is Hgh in nitrogen. It can last 6-12 months in the garden.