This article is about the top 13 free and organic nitrogen sources for your garden.
Nitrogen is Essential for Healthy Plants
Nitrogen is a chemical element that at 78% is the most abundant in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a gas at room temperature and has no colour or smell.
It is an essential nutrient for all plants, so it can be found in every type of plant tissue.
Nitrogen helps plants grow by making proteins, enzymes, and chlorophyll. Plants can get nitrogen from soil but also from the air through a process called nitrogen fixation.
Nitrogen fixation happens when bacteria convert nitrogen from the air into ammonia, which plants can use to grow and make protein. This nitrification process happens naturally in soil but the process can be speeded up by animals and humans with fertiliser or composting.
Composted Plant Material
The first source on our list is compost. Compost is a great source of nitrogen for your garden because it’s loaded with decomposing organic matter, which releases nitrogen as it breaks down.
This means that you’ll be able to get a lot of use out of the compost that you make, since it will continue to provide nutrients to your plants as they grow and as they decompose.
Organic nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for plant growth. It is necessary for the production of chlorophyll and amino acids, which are essential for photosynthesis.
Composted plant material is a good source of nitrogen and it can be used to replace synthetic fertiliser, which can cause environmental damage such as eutrophication by releasing nitrous oxide into the atmosphere and water supply.
Organic compost makes an excellent plant food, soil enhancer, fertiliser, and weed suppressor.
You might want to create your own compost pile in your backyard or start a worm bin.
Human urine can be used as a fertiliser on plants. Urine is a good source of nitrogen and phosphorus, which the plant needs to grow. Urine is best used when aged or diluted 10/1 with water.
Bones are a good source of phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium.
Cow or Horse Manure
The forth source of nitrogen on our list is cow and horse manure. Rudiments manure are another great source of nitrogen for your garden because they’re made up primarily of decomposed animal waste, which contains both nitrogen and other nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, and calcium.
Manures are also inexpensive to acquire, so if you want a cheap way of boosting your nitrogen levels, this is a great option.
Dog urine can be harmful to plants in the garden if your canine pees in the same place time and time again. But in small amounts here and there, it is actually beneficial as it’s a concentrated nitrogen source.
Coffee grounds add nitrogen to compost and can deter slugs and snails away from plants. But be mindful coffee grounds are also acidic, and this will harm some plants.
Milk has been used as a fertiliser in the garden for generations but it is 100 times more expensive than nitrogen from manure. So using fresh milk makes no real sense.
Blood meal make a great fertiliser. It’s made up of dried, ground-up animal blood. It’s high in nitrogen and a good source of iron and other micronutrients.
The main ingredients in dried blood are hemoglobin and serum albumin, which are the main proteins found in blood. Other nutrients include iron and copper.
Fish emulsion is a potent, organic fertiliser. It breaks down quickly, without leaving behind any harmful residues. It also contains essential nutrients for plants and soil microbes, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
The next source of nitrogen on our list is poultry manure. This type of manure contains both nitrogen and phosphorus, and it’s something you can easily acquire just by keeping chickens, ducks or geese in your backyard.
Again, if you’re any type of farmer or gardener with a decent sized operation and room for the birds to free range or for the poop to be stored, then this is an easy and cheap way to get a bucket of manure every month.
Chicken manure is a hot compost so it has to be aged before use or it will burn the plants you put it on.
Feathers are a valuable resource for your garden. But not all feathers are created equal. Some, like turkey and chicken, are better for breaking down and fertilising plants than others.
Fresh grass clippings make for a good mulch and a slow release nitrogen fertiliser. In addition to doing all the things other biodegradable mulches do (block light to weeds, retains soil moisture, provides covers for soil and improve the soil), fresh grass clippings contain so much nitrogen and potassium that it also serves as an excellent natural fertiliser.
Legumes have been shown to have many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease, aiding digestion, and more.
In addition to these health benefits they also provide nitrogen-fixing properties which can help improve soil quality.
Some legumes that you may want to include in your garden are soybeans, peas, lentils, beans and peanuts/perennial peanut.
Currently, with all the talk and fear that synthetic fertilisers will not be available for the foreseeable future, it is reassuring to know there are plenty of organic nitrogen alternatives to fertilise your garden plants with.
Do you have access to any organic nitrogen sources? Maybe you could suggest some more. What do you use to fertilise your garden? Share your favourite sources of organic nitrogen in the comments below.
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The Top 13 Free and Organic Nitrogen Sources for You Garden