Organic or synthetic: finding the perfect fertilizer for your garden

Posted on: 28 March 2018

If you love gardening, you'll love nothing more than seeing your plants thrive, and giving them all the nutrients they need is a fantastic way to support their growth. But gardening's not quite as simple as it once was, and with a debate raging over synthetic versus organic garden fertilizers, how do you decide what's best for your garden?

What's the difference between organic and synthetic fertilizers?

Organic, or natural, fertilizers come straight from nature, and the organic products on the market are formed from all manner of plant and animal substances. You'll find organic fertilizers occurring in the natural environment as rich substances like manure break down to feed the soil, and human advances on mother nature's techniques have combined the best of these natural substances, often processing them to make handling them more palatable.

Synthetic, or chemical, fertilizers are made by humans from chemical ingredients. They can be highly engineered and offer an advanced capacity to fertilize specific types of gardens in technically accurate ways.

Why choose organic fertilizers?

Proponents of organic fertilizers love them because they are just as nature intended. They outstrip synthetic fertilizers in their capacity to add important texture to your soil through the provision of organic matter, and if you love mucking about in the dirt, you won't mind the way they smell or the mess they tend to make.

If you are passionate about eating organic food or want to minimise your impact on the environment, then organic fertilizers are for you. Blood and bone is a widespread natural fertilizer, and you'll find many other forms made from manure, kelp, and compost.

What are the benefits of synthetic fertilizers?

Synthetic fertilizers offer higher levels of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus (the chemicals that get the job done) than the natural fertilizers, and so can be used in smaller amounts. Chemical fertilizers can also be engineered to last a much longer time than natural fertilizers, and are generally less smelly and messy than their organic cousins.  

Granular chemical fertilizers, in particular, are coated with a synthetic substance that slows their degradation by the elements, providing fertilization for your garden for up to several weeks at a time.

In the end, choosing the best type of fertilizer comes down to understanding the time you're prepared to invest in your garden and pinpointing your personal preferences. Either way, give those plants lots of water and plenty of nutrients and your garden will be a thing of beauty.