Popular Natural Fertilizers, Minerals, and Amendments

Fertilizers, minerals, and amendments often get lumped together in a loose way under an all-encompassing “fertilizer” heading.  However, it is best to consider their usage for their intended purpose and timeframe.

Fertilizers (fert) can be thought of as seasonal or quick-acting.  If you need to boost your nitrogen immediately, use a fertilizer.

Minerals are mined compounds that are stable and long-lasting.  They are typically not completely soluble.  Minerals need worked into the soil.  Minerals reside in the soil over the course of many years.  Their elements are liberated via weathering and organic acids from bacteria and fungi.  Minerals should be thought of as slow and steady.

Amendments are organic materials that are used to enliven the soil and to add textural qualities.



Blood Meal:  high in Nitrogen, typically 12-0-0, plus iron.  Product is just as it sounds.

Cottonseed Meal:  made from the seed of cotton after all the oil has been pressed out, 5-2-1, slow release, acidifying.

Bone Meal:  high in phosphorus and calcium, typically 0-10-0, product is just as it sounds.

Fish Emulsion:  a smelly liquid made from scrap fish parts, good for foliar or normal application.  You can literally see plants green up right before your eyes during after foliar spray.

Replenish 3-4-3:  composted chicken manure, inexpensive and quick acting.  Good source of calcium and carbon.

Sustane 3-7-4:  similar to Replenish product, just with more phosphorus, composted turkey manure.

Incred-A-Soil:  1.5-1.0-2.0, Ohio product, specifically used as mulch, not tilled into soil.




Lime:  made from limestone, calcium carbonate, used to increase soil pH, also source of calcium.

Sulfur:  pretty much the opposite of lime, used to decrease soil pH. It’s a source of sulfur.

Rock Phosphate:  0-3-0 phosphorus readily available, 0-30-0 eventually available, very slow release/stable, won’t leach, plus calcium.

Greensand:  0-0-7, from New Jersey, slow release source of potassium and micronutrients.  It has capacity to hold a bunch of water.

Humates:  basically the crudest/simplest form of coal, great source of carbon, which is what starts the soil food chain.

Azomite:  mined in Utah from volcanic ash.  Many trace minerals.

Epsom Salts:  yes the bathing kind.  This mined mineral is the quickest/cheapest way to boost magnesium.  Easily soluble.



Kelp Meal:  basically desalted and ground up seaweed.  Great source of trace minerals.  Smells like seaweed.

Coffee Grounds:  from everybody’s favorite coffee shop.  2-0-0.  Will not acidify soil.  Said to keep cats from doing their business in your garden.

Leaf Humus:  product of leaf composting.  Sometimes called leaf mold.  Use for organic matter, soil texture builder, or as mulch.

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