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Fertilizer: Organic (Natural) versus Chemical (Inorganic)

The argument continues. The organic proponents say only organic should be used. The chemical proponents have their argument of high analysis and quicker availability.

Why don't we consult Nature and see how she has been feeding plants life since the very beginning?

Most of the fertilizers called "chemical" occur naturally in Nature. In fact, that is where man discovered them. Ammonia, ammonium, ammonium sulphate, nitrites, nitrates, potassium sulphate, calcium phosphate, urea are some of them. But seldom are these chemicals found in the pure state. In Nature, they are almost always bound up in rock or in an organic form with other elements. Or they may be found in a state of transition.

Man-made chemical fertilizers always have a high total NPK, from 20 to 60 percent or more. The total NPK for organic fertilizer blends will always be low. Fourteen percent is about as high as it gets.

The balance of the ingredients in the chemical fertilizer bag, aside from the NPK, is usually made up of inert filler or possibly a chemical that isn't needed. The balance of the ingredients in the organic fertilizer bag beyond the NPK are all necessary soil nutrients. The fact that the material is organic means it came from a once-living entity-plant, animal or a blend of both-which tells us that every ingredient there is important to life. In the best organic fertilizers, everything in the bag is needed and is in correct proportions to feed and sustain the next generation of life.

Many chemical fertilizer formulas that contain major, minor and trace elements are labeled "Complete." That is really a false statement. It takes much more than a few chemicals to maintain the healthy soil and grow healthy plants. For example, there is very little, if any, carbon in a bag of chemical fertilizer. When a plant or animal body is analyzed, one of the most abundant elements in it is carbon, in the form of energy, mainly carbohydrates.

In order for a plant to be properly fed, whether with chemical or natural fertilizer, the microbial life in the soil must first process the fertilizer into a substance and release it in the correct amounts that are perfect for a plant to absorb. In order for the microbes to perform this service, they must have energy. They are not in the presence of sunlight, nor do they have chlorophyll like higher plants, so the microbes must get their energy from decaying plant or animal matter in the soil.

A bag of organic fertilizer has all the carbon/energy to meet the needs of the soil microbes. A bag of chemical fertilizer has no energy. If organic matter is not already present in the soil, the chemicals can quickly become stressful, even toxic, to the plants. This causes plants to be susceptible to disease and insect problems.


Organic fertilizers are believed to be slower acting than the chemical fertilizers. This is true to a degree. Being a lower NPK analysis and slower acting, organic fertilizers can be used in higher volume around plants without danger of burning. However, there are some organic fertilizers that are fast acting, such as bat guano or fish meal, that can show results as quickly as the chemical fertilizers do. They are still slower to burn the plants than the chemicals and last much longer in the soil.

Unless chemical fertilizers are impregnated or coated with a microbe inhibitor and some substance to keep them from quickly dissolving, they must be used very cautiously. Especially in sandy soils, they can burn the roots of the plants and quickly leach beyond the reach of the roots. They generally end up polluting a water supply because they are too quickly dissolved and moved out of the soil. In heavy clay soils or any soil with a high organic and humus content, this is less of a problem.

Chemical fertilizers that are blended to perfectly fit a given soil and then used in the correct season and correct amounts can do nothing more than grow a plant. They do not build or sustain a healthy soil. Organic fertilizers contain the energy and the many other things that continually build soil fertility, crumb structure, increased water holding capacity, food for all the beneficial soil life, condition the soil and contribute to the hundreds of other yet-unknown things that cause a plant to grow healthy and perfect.

Only healthy and perfectly grown plants can feed and support healthy and perfect animal and human life.



Never dig root crops such as sweet potatoes when the soil is too moist. If dug when the soil is on the dry side, the root crops store much better and longer.


The Garden-Ville Method - Lessons in Nature


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last updated:  March 6, 2004