There is nothing better than having your own vegetable garden. Fertilization can help you get the most out of your efforts and ensure your crops thrive. Still, you don’t want to put chemicals on what you and your family will be eating!
Luckily, you can buy organic fertilizers that will boost your veggies and let you feel good about eating your homegrown produce. However, picking the best organic fertilizer starts with being aware of some critical pieces of information. Then you can look at the top organic fertilizers available and decide which one matches your vegetables and needs best.
This blog post will review the 11 best organic fertilizers for your vegetable plants and what you need to know before choosing one!
What is an Organic Fertilizer?
Organic fertilizer is a type of natural fertilizer that comes from natural sources. It can be anything from manure to fish emulsion.
The best organic fertilizers add nutrients back into the soil without harming the environment and also help build up the organic matter in your soil, improve drainage, and increase fertility.
Over time, using organic fertilizers can improve the quality of your soil and make it easier to grow healthy crops.
Our 11 Top Picks for the Best Organic Fertilizers
After careful consideration, we’ve picked the best organic fertilizers for your vegetable garden.
Our list will give you plenty from which to choose. Here they are!
1. The best organic fertilizer vegetables can get: Down to Earth Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer
This 4-4-4 organic fertilizer from Down to Earth is an excellent product with excellent reviews. It will undoubtedly make your vegetables happy, but the Vegetable Garden Fertilizer is just the beginning.
Down to Earth has organic products with many other specialties, such as Acid Mix, Rose, Flower Mix, Citrus Mix, All-Purpose, and many more. If you want to get detailed and specific with your gardening products while remaining organic, Down to Earth may be a good brand to get started on.
On an extra note, Down to Earth also comes in a compostable box for those who want to be as eco-friendly as possible.
2. Best for Soil Amendment: Dr. Verm’s Premium Worm Castings – Organic Builder and Fertilizer
Maybe you can never remember to fertilize. Perhaps you know you will be gone, and your vegetable plants will need to fend for themselves, or maybe you just want to get things started right.
While many gardening products are added and reapplied throughout the growing season, Dr. Verm’s is an excellent choice for people seeking to create soil richer in soil microbes before they start planting.
It includes over 60 soil microbes and trace minerals rich in beneficial bacteria, fungi, and nematodes. The microbes and trace elements can remain viable for up to 12 months. The microbes can remain viable for up to 12 months if stored in a cool, dry place.
However, extreme hot or cold temperatures can affect the lifespan of the microbes. As long as the content is kept dry, the nutrient and minerals should remain indefinitely, even if the microbes have long since died off.
You can mix these worm castings with potting soil to make it act like a soil conditioner for your containers. You can also add it to the top of outdoor gardens or planting holes.
You can even soak these to create a liquid fertilizer. This is it if you need something to give you a better foundation soil and fertilize with. Who knew you could do so much with worm castings?
3. Best Reviving Fertilizer: Plant Magic Premium All-Purpose Organic Fertilizer
We cannot ignore the reviews on this one. Plant Magic Premium All-Purpose Organic Fertilizer may actually be magic. Several reviewers testified to this organic fertilizer’s ability to bring their plants back from the jaws of death. Sometimes you need an emergency fertilizer, and this choice is a great organic plant saver.
Of course, this excellent organic fertilizer is not just for emergencies! This 6-5-5 all-purpose blend can be added directly to the soil and plant roots or used to water plants. The only downside is that this option is a bit pricey compared to some of our other picks.
4. Best organic fertilizer for Tomatoes: Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
Tomatoes are a classic choice of vegetable gardeners everywhere, but getting your tomato plants to produce sizeable juicy fruit can be tricky. Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb manure can help you make your garden’s finest tomatoes.
This product has an NPK ratio of 4-6-3, which helps to explain why it is so great for tomatoes. The high phosphorous level encourages plants to increase blooms and fruit production.
Of course, this isn’t only good for tomatoes and other vegetables you want to produce.
This manure also has the advantage of lasting for a few months at a time. Suppose you are the type who forgets to fertilize. In that case, a long-lasting organic fertilizer like this might be the solution.
5. Best for Building Resistance: Jobe’s Organics 9026 Fertilizer
This organic fertilizer has everything! Jobe’s Organics 9026 is a granular product you can easily add to the soil. Its NPK ratio is 2-5-3.
Jobe’s Biozome is a unique, proprietary blend of bacteria and fungi that improve long-term soil quality in your vegetable garden and increase plant growth. The mycorrhizal fungal spores will help you resist disease during difficult times like droughts or insects because they produce natural pesticides within their roots!
You just put the appropriate measure of fertilizer into the planting hole or container and mix it into the soil a bit. Watering afterward is best.
6. Best for Indoor Plants: Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated
Coming in a 3 oz bottle, this is probably not the organic fertilizer of choice for those with large backyard plots. However, Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated is a practical choice if you need something simple and easy to use for your potted tomatoes and indoor herbs.
This NPK – 8-5-1 manure is an overall plant booster that revives struggling plants and brings forth new growth in others. Many customers were shocked and pleased by the abundant growth Joyful Dirt produced in their potted and indoor plants.
Like other organic fertilizers, Joyful Dirt will produce a rather unpleasant odor. Some complained about its fish emulsion smell. Also, as of today, this product contains a tiny amount of bone meal.
Joyful Dirt can be added either directly or via the watering can. If you add this to your watering, you can pour out any water remaining in the can after watering your plants!
7. Best for Hydroponics: MARPHYL Organic Liquid Soil Enhancer with All Natural Marine Phytoplankton
This certified organics liquid soil organic seaweed fertilizer from Marphyl is a must for anyone trying hydroponic organic gardening.
Since hydroponics does not involve soil, it can be tricky to apply fertilizers. Still, the liquid form of Marphyl’s option makes it simple to add to hydroponic systems.
Of course, you can also use this product concentration on potted plants as well.
Why use ordinary plant fertilizer when you can have marine phytoplankton? The naturally-occurring nutrients in these tiny algae provide your indoor or outdoor plants with abundant vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. With so much more than just liquids for fertilizing grasses & flowers, this is one liquid fertilizer that will make all the difference!
It’s vegan and non-toxic, so it won’t harm the earth when applied in large quantities! Plus, this fertilizer comes from natural sources without preservatives, so you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals.
8. Best starter fertilizer: Espoma Organic Bio-Tone
Bio-tone’s Starter Plus is a rich blend of natural and organic ingredients enhanced with endo & ecto mycorrhizal. Inert enzymes are activated by moisture and immediately start stimulating root growth, which is exactly what you want to happen with newly planted vegetation.
A 4-3-3 Fertilizer analysis with 5% calcium content for increased growth rate! It can be used on veggies and fruits, particularly when starting new plants or when transplanting.
Bio-tone Starter Plus is the perfect solution for organic gardening; it meets all requirements of an approved input material, which means you can rest easy knowing that your produce will be kept safe from any harmful chemicals.
9. Best for Easy Use: Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules
Sometimes we just want something straightforward and low effort. Even if you love your garden, you may not have all the time you want to devote to it. Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules may not be easy to say. Still, it is easy to find and use.
This is a simple shake slow release fertilizer, so you won’t need to add more for a month or so. You have to shake some of the dirt, and you are good to go.
Plus, as a Miracle-Gro product, this is, by far, the most accessible organic fertilizer to find at your local store. You can still be organic and pick up your products when shopping for other organic gardening supplies. Going organic should not be difficult, and Miracle-Gro is helping with that.
10. Best for Beginners: Espoma Garden-Tone Plant Food, Natural & Organic for an Abundant Harvest
We are all at different places in our organic gardening lives. Some have been growing a vegetable garden for decades, and others are planting their very first.
If you fall into the latter category, you may not be ready for all the numbers and specifications that exist down the rabbit hole of organic fertilizers. Luckily there is a simple solution for you: Espoma Garden-Tone.
It feeds your plants once a month and is suited for vegetables and herbs. It provides long-lasting, slow-release feeding with exclusive Bio-tone Microbes.
Since this comes in a four-pound bag, it is also perfect for anyone with a mixed plot of various vegetables. You can also buy several bags of this at once on Amazon.
11. Best Potassium Additive: Humboldts Secret Golden Tree: Best Plant Food for Plants & Trees
If liquid manures are the way you want to go, you should look into Humboldts Secret Golden Tree. his formula is a boost of just potassium that comes in various sizes and works on all plants, so you can get exactly how much you need for whatever veggies you are growing. Golden Tree is a proprietary blend of carbs, kelp, and minerals which all contribute to your plants’ growth.
The great thing about liquid organic fertilizers is that they can be applied in any situation. You can even use this manure in an aeroponics garden as a mist!
The plants will still typically require a base nutrient regimen as this is an additive. We recommend a little plant enzyme to keep root systems clean if used in hydroponics. Humboldts Secret Golden Tree is versatile, so if you have plants in multiple growing mediums or like to experiment with different systems, this could be a simple all-in-one solution.
What’s the difference between An organic and A chemical fertilizer?
Chemical fertilizers are chemical additives that can be added to soil to increase its fertility. They have been refined from various sources, including petroleum products and rocks. However, they can be damaging to the environment and your plants.
On the other hand, organic fertilizers such as manures, compost, or bone meal are derived directly from natural sources. They are much safer for both you and the environment.
Types of Organic Fertilizers
There are many different types of organic fertilizers available on the market. Each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks that you should consider.
Let’s explore the different types of organic fertilizers in more detail:
There are many types of animal waste out there. Still, when it comes to gardening, you should really only consider using manure. Manure is simply the waste from herbivores that has been decomposed into a soil-like substance and can work best if mixed well with your garden starting.
However, mixing fresh manures right before planting will usually burn your plant’s roots. As they contain high levels of nutrients, making them too hot for most plants.
Compost is made from decomposed organic matter, such as leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. It is a great way to add nutrients and organic matter to your soil.
Compost can be made at home or bought from a store. If you decide to make your own, it is important to know that the composting process can take several months.
Bone meal is made from ground-up animal bones and can be a great source of phosphorus for your plants. It is best used as a side dressing or mixed into the soil before planting. By using bone meal in your garden, you will notice healthier root systems in your plants and increased flowering and fruiting.
A blood meal is made from dried and ground-up animal blood and is an excellent source of nitrogen for your plants. It can be used as a side dressing or mixed into the soil before planting. It is excellent for leafy greens and other plants that need a lot of nitrogen.
Fish emulsion is made from whole fish or fish parts that have been composted. It is a great source of nitrogen and other nutrients for your plants. It can be used as a side dressing or mixed into the soil before planting. Fish emulsion is best used on young plants or seedlings.
Seaweed fertilizer is made from seaweed and kelp that have been dried and ground up. It is a great source of nutrients for your plants, including nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Seaweed extract can be used as a side dressing or mixed into the soil before planting.
Worm castings are made from the waste of worms. They are an excellent source of nutrients for your plants and can help improve the quality of your soil. Worm castings can be used as a side dressing or mixed into the soil before planting.
There are Also Different Fertilizer Form Types
Now that you know more about what is in your fertilizer for soil amendment purposes, you also need to consider what forms it can take. There are several common types of fertilizer, including
This fertilizer is in the form of solid round pellets. It is added to the soil directly, where it dissolves over time. Some granular fertilizer options are also slow release, so you do not have to fertilize as often. Granular fertilizers are some of the simplest to use, but they also take up more storage space.
You can also buy solid fertilizer that must first be dissolved in water. These fertilizers allow you to take a small amount of concentrate and turn it into gallons of plant food. These are great if you want to fertilize a large area with a sprayer or even if you simply want to add some nutrients to your watering can.
Liquid fertilizers are also a type of concentrate. Just like the dissolvable, they are added to regular water. Liquid fertilizers also have the benefit of being easy to use in hydroponics systems.
The type you choose depends primarily on personal preference. Still, some factors may affect your choice.
A fertilizer applied with water (liquid and dissolvable) may not be the best choice for sandy soils since it will wash through quickly.
Buying a large box of granular fertilizer may be impractical for someone with only a few container plants.
You may also choose to use different types at different times. Granular fertilizers are excellent for preparing the soil before planting. In contrast, liquid fertilizers work well as regular plant food because they are easy to apply directly to an adult plant.
5 Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Organic Fertilizer
When choosing an organic fertilizer, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- The type of vegetables you are growing.
- The stage of growth your vegetables are in.
- The time of year.
- Your soil type
- Your budget
1. The type of vegetables you are growing
Getting a general vegetable plant fertilizer is the best option in most cases. However, different vegetables do have varying nutrient needs and preferences. If you are determined to grow a particular vegetable, you should look at the fertilizer recommendations. Our table also notes when the ideal time is to apply it.
|When to Apply|
|Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage||Phosphorus||When head forms|
|Peas, Beans||Balanced||At start|
|Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant||Phosphorus||When blooms start|
This is not an exhaustive or extremely detailed list. Still, it simply gives you a general idea of what different vegetables prefer. Phosphorus is a crucial element for vegetables because it contributes to bearing fruit and strengthening the plant’s root system.
Still, if you want to grow award-winning carrots and tomatoes, you will likely need to do more specific research. However, if your goal is just tasty and healthy food, then you definitely know enough to get growing.
2. The stage of growth your vegetables are in
Vegetables have different nutrient needs at different stages of plant growth. When choosing an organic fertilizer, make sure to select one that is appropriate for the stage of growth your vegetables are in. For example, a fertilizer high in nitrogen is best for plants actively growing and producing leaves. A fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content is best for root vegetables that are beginning to form.
3. The time of year
Organic fertilizers can be applied at different times throughout the year. The best time to apply organic fertilizer depends on the type of fertilizer you are using and the specific needs of your plants. Some organic fertilizers, like compost, can be applied at any time of year. Others, like blood meal, are best used in the spring when plants are actively growing. And still others, like fish emulsion or seaweed fertilizer, are best used in the summer when plants produce fruit or flowers.
4. Your soil type
The type of organic fertilizer you choose will also depend on your soil structure. Different soils have different nutrient needs. For example, sandy soils tend to be low in nutrients, while clay soils can be high in nutrients. If you are unsure what soil you have, it is best to do a soil test before applying any organic fertilizer. See more on that later on…
5. Your budget
Organic fertilizers can be expensive, so it’s essential to consider your budget when choosing one. If you are on a tight budget, consider using compost or worm castings. These are two of the most affordable organic fertilizers and can be made at home with little effort.
Why should you test your soil condition first?
You want to do a nutrient soil test to determine what nutrients your soil already has and what it is lacking. Having your soil tested can give you a wide variety of information depending on the test. Here are some things to look for when testing your soil.
- pH level: pH levels have a significant impact on a plant. They can also determine how effective your fertilizer will be. Highly acidic PH soil makes it difficult for plants to absorb phosphorus, and basic PH soil makes it hard for them to get copper, iron, and zinc. Neutral or slightly acidic soil typically allows plants to absorb the most from fertilizer.
- Macronutrients: There are six nutrients that plants need in large amounts: They are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, magnesium, and calcium. If your soil severely lacks any of these, you will need to supply it with fertilizer.
- Micronutrients: Micronutrients are nutrients that plants need in smaller amounts. These include boron, iron, manganese, copper, molybdenum, chlorine, nickel, sodium, cobalt, silicon, and zinc. Although these micronutrients are not as vital as the macronutrients, you still want your soil balanced. Your choice of fertilizer can help supply that.
What is NPK Ratio (The Numbers on the Bag) and why should you care?
Three of the macronutrients make up what is known as the N P K ratio. N stands for nitrogen, P is for phosphorus, and K is for potassium (also called potash).
The NPK ratio is the three numbers you see printed on the front of most fertilizers. They are always given in the order of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
It sounds scary, but it’s actually not that complicated. The numbers represent the percentage of each nutrient in the fertilizer by weight.
So, a 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium. On the other hand, a 20-5-5 fertilizer contains 20% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, and 5% potassium.
The numbers for high-quality organic fertilizers may be much lower than for chemical fertilizers.
Why? Because organic fertilizers release their nutrients slowly over time, while chemical fertilizers release them quickly.
You may need to apply organic fertilizer more often than chemical. Still, it will be worth it in the long run because your plants will be healthier, and you will create a healthy soil ecosystem.
When should I put organic fertilizer in my vegetable garden?
The best time to apply an organic fertilizer to your vegetable garden is in the spring when plants are actively growing. This will allow them to absorb the fertilizer’s nutrients and use them for the rest of the growing season. You can also apply organic fertilizer in the summer. Still, it is not as effective since plants are not growing as rapidly.
In the fall, applying organic fertilizer can help your plants store nutrients for the winter.
Growing vegetables is fun, educational, productive, and tasty. With the right organic fertilizer, it can be even more effective! Fertilizing your vegetables is critical for a thriving and bountiful garden.
When selecting organic gardening products, remember to pick something that caters to your soil and the vegetables you wish to grow. Grab one of our all-purpose recommendations if you don’t know where to start. Happy fertilizing!