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6 Best Organic Fertilizer for Fruits and Vegetables – Reviews

If you’re new to gardening, it may come as a surprise that just putting a seed or plant in soil and having it grow beautifully is not exactly how it works. Plants require complex nutrients that are sometimes found in the soil, but it’s rare that you have the perfect combination in your backyard.

Most likely, the soil you are working with is missing some key things that your plants need to do their best. One way to supply these is to add fertilizer, preferably organic.

Our pick

THE BEST ORGANIC FERTILIZER

Unco Industries Soil Builder Earthworm Castings

Earthworm castings are a great all-around organic fertilizer. It will definitely work for most plants without direct negative side effects. Unco's fertilizer will also improve your soil condition.

How to Choose Fertilizer

There are a lot of choices for fertilizers, including nonorganic options. Organic fertilizers are better than nonorganic because they aren’t made with things like petroleum products that will harm the health of your soil in the long run.

To choose the right organic fertilizer for your needs, there are a few considerations you have to make.

Soil type

First, what kind of soil do you have? Is it clay, sand, or loam? Loam is considered the holy grail of soil types, but most of us have a combination of all three, with either clay or sand featured more prominently.

Sandy soils are great with drainage, almost too great, but have difficulty holding nutrients in. Clay soils are heavily fertile but have drainage issues.

The fertilizer you use should account for the type of soil that you have so that your fertilizer isn’t washed away in a sandy soil by the first rain, or cause calcium deposits in your clay soil due to lack of drainage.

If you have loam, congratulations! You just need a basic fertilizer formulated for the type of plant life you have.

Needed Nutrients

The second thing to consider is what your soil is actually missing. The best way to determine this is through a basic soil test. These cost as little as $10 and are usually done through your local horticulture extension, but it is possible to buy home tests.

After the soil test is done, your report will give you the composition of nutrients in your soil, and you can match your fertilizer to what is missing.

What do the numbers mean?

Organic fertilizers are labeled with the percentage concentration of nutrients. These are referred to as the NPK ratio, which stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. In a 6-12-0 formula, for example, there is 6% Nitrogen, 12% Phosphorous, and 0% Potassium

It’s also a good idea to consider other types of nutrients that you may need. Fertilizers have all sorts of micronutrients and minerals that can replenish other missing pieces of your soil.

Fertilizer Form

Fertilizers come in either liquid or dry forms. Dry fertilizers are slower to release and last over a longer period. They are good when you need general plant maintenance and are rebuilding nutrients directly in the soil.

Liquid fertilizers are faster acting and are better when your plants need a boost. For example, in late summer when the taxing heat and in-optimum water conditions take their toll on your blooming plants or veggies, a shot of liquid fertilizer can be just the right pick-me-up to get them through the rest of the season.

Our Best 6 Organic Fertilizer Choices

Below, we’ve compiled the best 6 organic fertilizer options to help you get your plants and soil back to their best conditions. Each one provides all the different nutrients you plants need to grow strong and healthy all season long.

1. Neptune's Harvest Organic Hydrolized Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer

Neptune’s Harvest combines both fish and seaweed to give you the best of both products in an easy to use formula.

Both fish emulsion and seaweed build the natural sugars in plant leaves, helping them grow stronger even in dry or excessive heat conditions. Flowers, fruit, and foliage are stronger and more productive, with fruit reported to have a longer shelf life.

The product is easy to use. Simply dilute in water as the instructions say and use to water plants, or use as a foliar spray.

What we like:

  • Liquid is easier to apply than dry fertilizers
  • Works best with flowers (also great for some vegetables)

What we don't like:

  • Fish-seaweed is hit and miss with different plants
  • If improperly mixed or stored, this fertilizer may get smelly
  • Dogs and cats love the smell

2. Jobe’s 6028 Organic Vegetable Spikes

Jobe’s has made fertilization super easy by putting it in the form of spikes to be buried in the ground near the plant’s root system. There’s no mixing involved, they are easy to carry and store, and simple to apply.

This particular formula contains 2-7-4 combination, with nitrogen, phosphate, potash, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. The spikes are driven into the ground near the root system so that the plant can begin to take in the nutrients as soon as possible, but you don’t have the inconvenience of dilution as you do with liquid fertilizers.

One problem with the spikes that is often reported is that animals love to dig them up. If you have dogs or other animals, put down some kind of barrier until the spike is dissolved enough that your plants benefit.

What we like:

  • Complete active ingredients
  • Easy to use and store
  • OMRI listed

What we don't like:

  • Your pet may dig the plants after applying the fertilizer
  • Gets expensive for large garden

3. Humboldts Secret Golden Tree

Golden Tree is a professional quality fertilizer that works on a variety of plant types. It activates enzymes in the root system that encourage growth and production, as well as improved photosynthesis. It also provides nutrients for veggies, flowers, and even roses.

It’s easy to store. It comes in a 2 oz. bottle that makes 28 gallons of fertilizer, though larger sizes are available if you are doing some serious fertilizing. Simply follow the directions on the label with the following cautions.

With this product, it’s good to do a small test with smaller amounts than what is recommended to see how your plants react. There may be some issues with fertilizer burn when adding at full strength for the first time, but most people should see positive results with the recommended amounts.

What we like:

  • Highly potent, professional fertilizer
  • Concentrated, so it’s easy to store
  • Very affordable
  • Works really well for most kind of plants

What we don't like:

  • May cause fertilizer burn, test first
  • Container is low quality
  • Mainly advertised for cannabis

4. SEA-90 Organic Fertilizer

SEA-90 is an all purpose fertilizer that can be used even for hydroponics. It’s harvested from mineral deposits in the ocean, and is odor free.

It’s water soluble, and so works great in a sprayer. SEA-90 is also rated as a livestock additive because of the natural minerals, so if you do both gardening and animal husbandry, this product will take care of both things at once.

One caveat of this product is that it tends to raise the acidity of the soil, so if your soil tends to be on the alkaline side, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Quick home soil testing should help you regulate ph levels for plants that have a harder time in acidic conditions, though plenty of common shrubs, trees and flowers prefer an acidic ph.

What we like:

  • Odor free
  • Can also be used as a mineral additive for livestock
  • OMRI certified

What we don't like:

  • Can raise the soil ph
  • Just OK

5. Fox Farm FX 14049 Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula

Fox Farm is well known in gardening forums and although a little pricey, produces results. This particular fertilizer is actually a three-part fertilizer for each stage of plant life.

The first bottle is Grow Big Hydro to support abundant foliage growth. The second bottle is Tiger Bloom and is for the first signs of blooms and flowers. The third bottle, Big Bloom, can be used all throughout the growing cycle to continually heal root systems and encourage nutrient cycling. It is also ideal for late season flowers and veggies.

One drawback besides the price is that it may raise the ph of the soil. Periodic soil testing should help you keep the ph in balance. It also comes in the same trio for hydroponic growers; just look for the correct formulation on the label.

What we like:

  • Easy to use
  • 3-in-1 solution for different stages of growth
  • Comes with feeding schedule and guide

What we don't like:

  • Initial price is high. No options to choose different sizes

6. Unco Industries Soil Builder Earthworm Castings

Of all the fertilizers listed, one particular type of fertilizer is ideally made directly into your soil with a creature nature uses to condition soil, break down nutrients, and redeposit beneficial microbes: the worm.

Worm castings are a great all around fertilizer because of it’s ability to provide both quick and long term feeding without changing the ph of the soil. It’s difficult to mis-measure this particular fertilizer and using it should actually attract more worms to your garden as the health of your soil continues to improve.

Unco’s earthworm castings is a great all around fertilizer and soil conditioner. Earthworms process the soil and the resulting castings redeposit broken down nutrients in a form that is easy for your plants to process. Other types of fertilizers require the plant to expend energy breaking down nutrients into a form the plant can use.

The nutrients are actually in two forms. One can be quickly and directly absorbed, giving plants a boost in late season, or when just putting out leaves. The other provides a long term, rich environment for plants to grow. And since only small amounts are needed to see big results, investing in this particular fertilizer is cost effective.

Castings also improve overall soil structure because the composition of the castings increases air flow, and with steady continual use allows the plant to grow dense, fibrous root systems with minimal effort. Plants that grow in dense, compacted soils cannot put as much energy into foliage or fruit production, so worm castings relieves them of laboring to push roots into the soil.

Microbes in the worm’s gut actually provide other needed micronutrients to the plant as well, further improving soil conditions and supporting plant growth.

What we like:

  • Great overall fertilizer for almost all types of plant life
  • Provides easy to use nutrients for plants in two forms: quick and long term feeding
  • Earthworm castings loaded with beneficial biologicals
  • Non-toxic and odor-free

What we don't like:

  • Package has a shelf life
  • If you already have earthworm in your compost bin, this product will only add small benefit

It doesn't have to be rocket science to support plant growth and improve the condition of your soil. Organic methods are best because they support the environmental cycle and work with existing conditions. Whatever you choose, you can rest easy knowing that you've made a good choice for both your garden and the planet.

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