Soil in Florida is very sandy and low in minerals. Growing anything in such soil can be a real challenge, especially for novice gardeners.
Fortunately, there is an organic nursery in my community that has provided me with excellent advice over the years on how to overcome the difficulties of growing edible plants in sandy soil without resorting to chemical fertilizers.
While I’ve tried a number of different organic fertilizers in the past, my favorite continues to be liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer concentrate. A gallon of this stuff will last you forever – unless you leave it outside which guarantees that it will be ripped open and destroyed by marauding raccoons!
Raccoons seem to just love anything that smells fishy!
The fish and seaweed fertilizer I use has a 2-3-1 ratio which indicates the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium by weight. While these numbers may be important for chemical fertilizers, I don’t think they apply very well to organic fish/seaweed fertilizers given that there are so many other minerals and trace minerals in them.
In other words, chemical fertilizers will only contain 3 minerals – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Fish fertilizer will contain upwards of 50 or more minerals, including these 3 primary ones.
The completeness of the mineral profile of fish fertilizer is what makes it so very effective for growing things in sandy soil, in my experience.
Adding compost and organic potting soil to the sandy dirt in your garden to gradually improve the nutrient profile can take weeks or months, whereas watering with fish fertilizer a couple of times a week seems to overcome these soil deficiencies quickly and easily!
A gallon of fish fertilizer is going to set you back $35-50, but remember that it lasts forever! Only 1 TBL diluted per gallon of water is what you need to water/fertilize your garden at the same time.
Twice a week watering/fertilizing seems to work very well for me. It’s pretty hard to overfertilize with fish fertilizer so don’t worry about burning your plants or other concerns that arise with the use of chemical fertilizers.
Another organic fertilizer I really like is Peruvian Guano (bird dropping pellets). These work better for my large citrus trees etc than my garden, however. In my garden, fish and seaweed fertilizer is clearly my favorite.
There are many decent brands of fish fertilizers out there, so check out my Resources page in the Gardening section for some that suit your particular needs. And don’t forget to post pictures of your garden’s progress on the Seeds of Change Facebook Wall!
What organic fertilizers do you use and why?