Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plants to grow and thrive. Nitrogen is required to synthesize amino acids, proteins, and DNA; in other words, a deficiency in nitrogen causes stunted growth in plants.
If you notice that your soil or plants lack nitrogen, don’t worry, as this can easily be fixed. While there are myriad synthetic nitrogen fertilizers flooding the market, your best bet is using natural nitrogen fertilizer, and that is what this article is all about.
In this article, I’ve provided an elaborate list of organic, natural nitrogen fertilizers you can use for your plants and soil. The good news is that most of these natural fertilizers are readily available right at home. Let’s get into the details.
Table of Contents
Natural Nitrogen Fertilizers
If you have a flock of chickens in your backyard, you don’t have to let your plants and soil suffer from nitrogen deficiency. Chicken manure can serve as an excellent source of nitrogen for your plants. Besides, it is readily obtainable and can also be overproduced.
You can produce a large quantity of chicken manure when you clean the chicken coop in the spring. This is easily one of the best natural nitrogen-rich fertilizers when composed well and used judiciously.
Bone and blood meal
Bone and blood meal is available at all local garden stores. These natural fertilizers are a great way to add nitrogen to your plants. These are rich sources of phosphorus as well.
You can also make your own bone and blood meal for your garden plants. All you need to do is save the bones to make a bone meal or broth and feed it to your plants.
One of the fastest ways to add nitrogen to the soil is to use a blood meal. A rich source of nitrogen, blood meal, when added to the soil surface and watered deeply, gives the plants around it a quick boost.
If you ask me if there are any downsides to using bone or blood meal, my answer is yes. The greatest problem with using this natural fertilizer is its smell. The smell attracts animals to the garden. So, if you live in a region surrounded by animals like bears and wolves, you should think twice before using bone and blood meal for your plants. Alfalfa meal is a great alternative in that case.
Alfalfa meal is generally available in all local garden stores. It is extremely rich in nitrogen and is an amazing choice for gardeners. However, ensure you read the label and follow the instructions before you apply it to your garden. Generally, it is recommended that you add the alfalfa meal to the soil surface and then water deeply so that it reaches the roots of your plants. It’s an excellent alternative to bone and blood meal.
Also known as green manure, planting cover crops is a fantastic way to add nitrogen to the soil. Typically, gardeners plant cover crops such as clover, alfalfa, peas, and other legumes as part of crop rotation. You may also choose to plant these cover crops when the growing season is about to end. By simply growing in the soil, these crops enhance your soil with a regular supply of nitrogen. You should then till these cover crops well into the ground when the growing season ends. This way, it decomposes in the soil and adds more nutrients, benefiting the soil and the plants in your garden.
Fish emulsion is a brilliant source of natural nitrogen for your plants. While you can make fish emulsion on your own, you can buy it in stores as well. The liquid fish emulsion available in stores should be diluted before use because it has a high level of nitrogen content, which might burn your plants.
Fish emulsion not only contains nitrogen but also has several other vitamins and minerals your plants require to grow well. Typically, a bottle of fish emulsion you buy in stores has an NPK ratio of 5:1:1. Besides, it contains other essential micronutrients, including calcium, sodium, sulphur, chlorine, and magnesium. Overall, fish emulsion serves as an amazing natural nitrogen fertilizer for your plants.
Coffee grounds contain about 5% nitrogen by weight and can be used in the garden in fresh or composted form. Don’t forget that just by adding a cup now and then, you might not make a big difference to the nitrogen levels in the soil. So, what you can do is contact your local coffee shops and ask them to save used coffee grounds for a couple of days. Many will be ready to help if you explain that you’re a gardener who wants to amend your garden soil.
Feather meal is a by-product of processing poultry feathers. It contains 15% nitrogen by weight, and hence it is a great source of nitrogen for your plants.
The feathers of birds are heated under pressure and then ground to form a powder, which is used as a feather meal. It releases nitrogen slowly, as it is not water soluble. You can use it effectively for 4 to 6 months. Feather meal doesn’t contain potassium or phosphorus. Consequently, you can use it as part of a mix that is made up of various other fertilizers, so that you can provide well-balanced nutrition for your plants.
Hoof and horn meal
As its name implies, hoof and horn meal is prepared by treating the hooves and horns of animals like cows and grinding them into powder. This natural fertilizer contains 9% to 14% nitrogen by weight, which means it is a rich source of nitrogen for plants.
The hoof and horn meal also has 1.5% to 2% phosphorus by weight, but it doesn’t contain any potassium. So, it is a great choice if you may have to supplement nitrogen and phosphorus for your plants but not potassium.
Crab meal is made by grinding up the remains of crabs and other crustaceans, like shrimp. It also includes their tough shells that contain chitin. Chitin helps plants defend themselves against diseases.
Containing 10% nitrogen by weight, crab meal makes for another amazing fertilizer for your garden. It remains effective for 4 to 6 months with a slow-release time.
If you have a lawn in your home and you cut grass regularly, you have a wonderful natural nitrogen source that is free! You can use grass clippings either by composting them or without composting them. These also work as mulch, slowly decomposing into the soil.
While adding grass clippings is a slow way of adding nitrogen to your soil, if you’re working towards making your garden soil better, this seems to be a free method.
Leaves are another free source of natural nitrogen for your plants. Fallen leaves, when used properly, can do a lot for your garden. They add nitrogen to your plants, act as organic mulch, and improve aeration.
When the gardening season comes to an end, mix fall leaves into your soil. By the time spring arrives, these leaves will have decomposed and added nitrogen to the soil.
Soybean meal is made by extracting soybean oil from soybeans. It generally contains ground soybean husks as well. It contains 6.5% nitrogen by weight and hence can be used as a natural nitrogen fertilizer.
Soybean meal is also known to contain 2.4% potassium and 1.5% phosphorus by weight. So, it makes a balanced fertilizer for your garden. It has a slow-to-medium release time.
You can make compost from yard waste and kitchen scraps, such as orange rinds, banana peels, raked leaves, and grass clippings. Compost has 1.5% to 3.5% nitrogen by weight. It also contains potassium and phosphorus and is a slow-release fertilizer. The best part about using compost as a natural nitrogen fertilizer is that you can prepare your own in your garden or backyard.
Bat guano is the same as bat droppings and is also known by other names, such as bat manure, bat poop, and bat fertilizer. It contains roughly 10% to 12% nitrogen. It can be used as an effective fertilizer, both outdoors and indoors.
It is best to use bat guano as a top-dressing fertilizer, either in dried or wet form. All you need to do is simply dump and mix it into the soil (top layer) during active growth or before planting. Make sure you read the instructions on the label carefully before using the bat guano fertilizer to reap its full benefits.
I’m sure now you’ve got a clear idea of the different natural nitrogen fertilizers available to you. You also have sufficient information to make a choice about which fertilizer will work best for your garden, based on the nutrient content and the time it takes for fertilizers to release the nutrients. Some important points to remember:
- While the natural nitrogen fertilizers you can prepare at home are highly safe to use, make sure you read the instructions on the label of store-bought natural fertilizers like fish emulsion and bat guano before using them for your plants.
- Also, remember that too much nitrogen can burn your plants. So, use these natural nitrogen fertilizers judiciously and help your plants thrive.