If you’re new to veganic gardening and searching for alternatives to blood, bone and other so-called “organic” fertilizers, then this list of eco-friendly soil amendments will strengthen and support your green thumb.
Making or purchasing a nutrient-rich mix of vegan organic fertilizers to help your garden thrive is a simple and sustainable way to enrich your soil without compromising your ethics.
I’ve organized this list of veganic fertilizers into the following categories:
– Ready made (those that you can find in your local store or online)
– Low cost (cover crops, Epsom salts, etc., that require a small purchase, but are worth the output)
– Free and fabulous (what you’ll find in your backyard, or compost bin)
– Fertilizers to use sparingly
So let’s get gardening!
These lists are intended as resources rather than lists of specific recommendations.
If you choose to use soy, cotton or alfalfa meal we would highly recommend finding an organic source as conventional sources of these crops are usually heavily sprayed and genetically modified.
If you’re interested in simplifying the process and picking up a pre-made fertilizer blend, then I’ve listed a number of veganic products you can find online or at your local garden store below:
Warning: Most of these companies are not strictly vegan, so read the labels and if it doesn’t have a vegan organic guarantee it’s best to pass.
Grow Veganic: Steady 5 – 1 – 2
“Steady gives your plants a gentle boost of nutrients and energy so they’ll be happy, healthy, and productive. It also helps rebuild depleted soils because it is rich in organic matter and carbon. So besides fertilizing your plants, it is an excellent soil conditioner.”
Alfalfa, Peanut Meal, Mixed Beans, Fermented Grain.
Grow Veganic: Zippy 7-1-1
“Zippy gives your plants a fast acting, concentrated nutrient boost. Use for planting seeds, transplanting, or anytime your garden needs a quick nutrient boost.”
Fermented Grain Solids.
Lady Bug Cottonseed Meal 7-2-1 vegan organic fertilizer
Ingredients: Ground cottonseeds. No filler. Waste not, want not.This natural fertilizer is made from the waste products of cotton farming instead of throwing the nutrients out in the landfill, farmers found a way to turn their scraps into plant food. Garden Pep Cottonseed Meal is an old-fashioned fertilizer, similar to fertilizers that our grandparents used on the garden and farmland.
Growmore Vegetarian 5-2-2
Grow More Vegetarian formula is part of the Natural Organic Fertilizers line specifically designed for your organic growing needs. Contains no animal, fish or poultry products. Made with cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal, kelp meal and soft rock phosphate. 5-2-2 Formulation.
Yum Yum Mix 2-1-1
Available in 4.5 lb shakers, 5 lb, 12 lb, 25 lb & 40 lb bags.
Alfalfa Meal: Nitrogen; Vitamins-A, B, E, carotene, thiamine, biotin, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, choline; 16 amino acids, co-enzymes, sugars, starches, protein fiber
Cottonseed Meal: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium
Kelp Meal: Nitrogen; Potassium; Vitamins-A, B, B2 , C, calcium, pantothenate, niacin, folic acid; minerals-barium, boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, sodium, strontium, sulfur, zinc; 17 amino acids
Greensand: Iron, Potassium, Silicate, Phosphorus, 30 trace elements
Rock Dust: Calcium, Sulfur, Magnesium, Boron, Cobalt
Rock Phosphate: Phosphorus, Calcium, Trace Elements
Humate: Salts of Humic Acid “ improve soil characteristics and aids in releasing other nutrients to plants in usable forms
Dry Molasses: Carbohydrates, Sugars, Trace Elements feeds and attracts beneficial soil organisms
– Yum Yum Mix
Down to Earth Vegan Mix 3-2-2
Available in a 6lb box and a 25lb bag.
Contains soybean meal, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, rock phosphate, sul-po-mag, stonemeal and greensand.
VeganVeggie Annual Soil Amendment for Vegetable Gardens (Vegan formulation)
Available in: 1 lb., 2 lb., 10 lb., and 15 lb.
It is designed to bring your pH to neutral, which is the ideal environment for vegetable gardening, and it will pay for itself by producing a more flavorful and more abundant crop. You will experience more veggies per plant and superior flavor.
– Sweet Corn Organic Nursery
VeganPepe Organic Fertilizer for Pepper Plants (Vegan formulation)
VeganPepe is rich with a non-animal protein source of nitrogen, soft-rock phosphorus and other trace minerals, as well as a beautiful combination of other Vegan-approved organic soil amendments that are perfect for pepper plants.
– Sweet Corn Organic Nursery
VeganMator “ Organic Fertilizer for Tomato Plants (Vegan formulation)
VeganMator provides the proper nitrogen to phosphorus ratio for tomatoes.
– Sweet Corn Organic Nursery
VeganSea Water Soluble Seaweed Powder
This product is also the perfect soil amendment for addressing soil deficiencies, and it has a multitude of other benefits as well. Among these are that it will help create an environment in the soil that will help plants survive frost and drought conditions, and because it raises the sugar levels in plants it helps prevent and treat insect and disease problems. It is also the perfect product to use when transplanting because it will help prevent shock and will promote rapid root development.
– Sweet Corn Organic Nursery
General Organics BioThrive Grow Plant Food
“BioThrive® Grow Plant Food has a minimum guaranteed NPK analysis of 4-3-4 and is derived from: alfalfa meal, cane sugar, copper sulphate, glacial rock powder, iron sulphate, kieserite, manganese sulphate, molasses, plant extracts, potassium sulphate, rock phosphate, sodium borate, sodium molybdenate, soybean meal, and zinc sulphate. Also contains seaweed and humic acids.”
– General Organics BioThrive
General Organics BioThrive Bloom Plant Food
“BioThrive® Bloom Plant Food has a minimum guaranteed NPK analysis of 2-4-4 and is derived from: alfalfa meal, cane sugar, copper sulphate, glacial rock powder, iron sulphate, kieserite, manganese sulphate, molasses, plant extracts, potassium sulphate, rock phosphate, sodium borate, sodium molybdenate, soybean meal, and zinc sulphate. Also contains seaweed and humic acids.”
– General Organics BioThrive
Soul Science: Bloom Driver 2-5-6, Emerald City 8-0-0, Garden Wizard 8-8-8, Urban Grow 8-3-1
“Soil Science Products don’t have any animal wastes or bio-solids. They’re perfect for vegans, vegetarians & concerned horticulturists. We use soy meal (or spoon feed with urea and/or ammonium sulfate), soft rock phosphate, mined potassium sulfate and a high percentage of humic shale.”
– Soil Science Products
If you know of another company that is putting out purely vegan fertilizer mixes, please let us know so we can add them to this list.
Low cost vegan organic fertilizers
These stock-free fertilizer alternatives are cheaper than buying a pre-made mix, but do require an initial investment.
Green Manures, Nitrogen-fixing crops
You might have to spend a small amount of money to get this crop growing, but it’s worth the reasonable investment. Fast-growing plants, such as wheat, oats, rye, vetch, or clover, can be grown as green manure crops before your standard planting, and then tilled into the garden as you ready the beds. Green manure crops absorb and use nutrients from the soil that might otherwise be lost through leaching, then return the nutrients into the soil when they are tilled under. The root system of cover crops also helps improve the soil structure and prevent erosion. Vetch, peas, broad beans (fava beans), and crimson clover are known as nitrogen-fixing crops because they are particularly good at bringing this nutrient back into the soil when they are tilled into the bed. Adding cover crops to your garden during fall and winter will also help reduce weed growth.
Alfalfa meal, Flax Seed Meal, Cottonseed Meal and Soya Meal
All excellent sources of nitrogen.
An excellent source of magnesium.
Seaweed (fresh, liquid or meal)
Often used for its trace elements, seaweed is best when harvested fresh from the sea (as opposed to washed up and sitting on beaches.) Some veganic gardeners use bulk kelp meal or spirulina instead (which are sources of potassium and trace minerals).
EM or other Beneficial Micro Organisms
Beneficial micro organisms work harmoniously with plants to increase nutrient availability in the soil, root formation and insect resistance.
Free vegan organic fertilizer
These are my favorite fertilizers because you can create them in your own backyard! I try to use a mix of these soil amendments first, and then add additional veganic ingredients such as wood ash, or spirulina if needed.
Every good gardener has a great compost pile (if they have the space.) If you’re just beginning, I’ve got a good guide to compost to help you get the most out of your kitchen/yard scraps. A good compost pile is full of wonderful nutrients, nitrogen and beneficial microorganisms to keep your garden going strong. Not only is making your own compost pile easy to do and a free way to feed your garden, it also encourages a strong worm population which is wonderful for your plants.
Vermiculture or Vermicastings (Worm Castings)
Worm castings improve the soil structure and increase fertility. They can be added to your garden without purchasing them from a store (which is obviously harmful to the worms being cultivated for the product), by simply providing the right environment for the worms to thrive in. Re-establishing the natural worm populations in your garden is as easy as providing a cool, damp and dark environment with plenty of nutrients for them to enjoy (compost pile/hay mulch.) If you’re interested in increasing your worm population, this link will help you get started.
Mulching is simply covering the ground with a thick layer of organic material. Mulching will not only feed the soil as it breaks down, but will also suppress weeds and encourage worms in your garden. You can do this while plants are growing (as long as you don’t overwhelm the plants) or you can apply mulch when you’re shutting down your garden for the winter.
You can make wonderful liquid fertilizers with comfrey or nettles and other composting plants. These fertilizers are nitrogen rich, can often be created for free, and your garden will love them. Here are some directions on how to make your own nettle or comfrey compost tea.
Vegan organic fertilizers to use sparingly:
While all of the fertilizers below are stock-free and valuable, they are obtained through mining, so we use them very sparingly or not at all. They are valuable soil amendments though, so if there is a particular deficiency in your soil, which these products will rectify, attempt to use them in small quantities.
You’ll also notice that a number of the ready-made mixes contain some of the ingredients listed below. So if you do choose to purchase a prepackaged mix, make sure to use it sparingly and supplement with compost and other sustainable soil amendments.
A source of calcium and magnesium, it is also used to help break up heavy clay soil. Calcium is essential for strong plant growth and aids in the intake of other nutrients. Lime can be used to raise the pH level, if your crop requires this.
Gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate)
Gypsum adds calcium to the soil without raising the pH.
A finely ground rock dust and prized source of calcium and magnesium.
Prized for its high phosphorus content, the primary mineral in phosphate rock is apatite.
Rock Dusts (or Stonemeal)
Containing a blend of different powdered rocks, when mixed with the soil its mineral content is slowly released, revitalizing overworked soils and stimulating microbial activity.
Used as a soil amendment and fertilizer, it has the consistency of sand but 10 times the moisture absorption. Green Sand is mined from deposits of minerals that were originally part of the ocean floor. It is a natural source of potash, along with iron, magnesium, silica and as many as 30 other trace minerals. It may also be used to loosen heavy, clay soils.
Potassium enhances flower and fruit production and helps harden up foliage, making it less susceptible to disease. Rock potash is very slow-acting (it may take years to fully release its minerals). Because the potash is released gradually as the mineral weathers, it is usually used when preparing the soil for planting.
Contains some potassium, phosphate and trace amounts of micro-nutrients such as iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc. It can have an alkalizing effect on the soil, which many plants do not like, so use it sparingly.