Fertilizers Used By Gardeners In India

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Namaskar Desi Gardeners! Gardeners in India are blessed with a whole range of natural fertilizers that are easily and cheaply available. Most of the urban gardeners are always struggling to find the right ones, be it organic or inorganic (chemical-based).

Also see: Understanding Plant Fertilizer And Its Types

Best fertilizers available for desi gardeners

Mustard cake/ Mustard cake powder

Mustard cake or mustard cake powder is one of the biggest boons to Indian farmers. As mustard grows easily all over the country with oil mills in every town, the fibre that remains after the mustard oil has been drained out is used as a fertilizer in India.

Mustard cake based fertilizers are full of nutrients. It can be applied directly at the base of the plants. However, the plants take it up more easily when it is fermented in water for a few days and then applied in the soil.

Generally speaking, mustard based fertilizer provides almost all nutrients needed by the plants and it is fully organic. But do not directly apply the mustard seeds that we use for cooking – that is the mistake many gardeners make. Mustard cake powder is the plant food and the seeds human food.

You can use this mustard cake from Amazon which is of good quality : Organic 100% Pure Mustard Cake For Plants

Cow Dung compost

Cow dung has always been the Indian farmer’s best friend. Used for thousands of years in India, cow dung based fertilizer is enough for a rich harvest, especially if it is believed to be of a desi gau.

However in pots or in your garden, I would recommend that do not use cow dung directly. Purchase cow dung manure from your nursery. These are dried and matured for months and even years. Using cow dung will attract a lot of pests and insects and also some animals who would be digging up your soil to look for worms.

Here is a 5 kg pack available for cow dung manure. Purchasing a bigger pack will save you more money : Cow Dung Manure Fertilizers for Plants & Home Gardening

Compost or Natural Manure

This is the common manure that we can make easily at home using kitchen vegetables. You can purchase easily from any nursery. Note to buy manure from a trusted place or of a brand so that you are sure of the quality and know that it is organic : Organic Manure for Plants Natural Booster for Flowering Plant

Horn meal

Just like bone meal, horn meal is also derived from cattle horns which are extremely rich in nitrogen. It helps the plant to grow well and produce big healthy leaves. Horn meal is a grey coloured dust like powder. It can be used while preparing the soil or can be used as a fertilizer.

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Vermicompost

Vermicomposting is a special type of composting using earthworms, wigglers and some special kind of other worms that make the regular compost richer and more easily available for the plants. Vermicompost is a must for making soil and should be applied to the plants periodically.

Vermicompost is organic and has more nutrients than regular compost which are needed for the plants to grow well and bloom more flowers and fruits. Use only good quality vermicompost like these : Organic Vermicompost Fertilizer Manure For Plants

Urea

Urea is a very common fertilizer used by farmers. It is nitrogen based fertilizer of which almost 46% of it is nitrogen. Urea makes plants grow fast and boosts green and leafy plants. Usually urea found in the market is inorganic.

Compost, its Types and how we use it in the garden

Leaf Compost

Leaf compost as the name says, is compost made entirely of leaves. It makes a great potting medium for plants like Azalea which need a slightly acidic potting soil. It is also preferred by succulents. Leaf compost can be mixed while making the soil or can be added later as a fertilizer : Organic Leaf Compost for Gardening | Natural Source of nutrients

Neem cake / powder

Another asset of Indian farmers and desi gardeners. Neem cake or neem cake powder contains both food and medicine for the plant.

Neem cake is processed by extracting the neem oil and then left to dry. It is made into powder or sometimes directly sold as cakes.

It acts a natural pesticide, insecticide, fungicide and also provides many slow release nutrients to the soil. It is one of the best natural fertilizers in the market. Be sure to add a handful on your pot or at the base of your plant. 

You can use this good Neem cakes from Amazon: Neem+ Cake Powder/Neem Khali
Ready to Use : Neem oil Natural Pesticide  

Phosphate

Phosphate is generally available as a white powder like substance and applied at the base of the plant. Plants need phosphate for their growth and they take it up from the soil. Phosphorus that is sold in the nursery is mostly inorganic. Here is one that I recommend: Organic Nutrient rich Rock Phosphate fertilizers for plants home garden

Lime

The right pH level is critical for the right plant. Lime is widely used to correct the ph level for plants like hibiscus, onions, spinach etc. Lime contains a lot of calcium and magnesium. Use agricultural lime dissolved in water in the right dose as and when needed

Dolomite Garden Limestone Powder Fertilizer for Calcium and Magnesium in Plants

Potash

The Potash available for plants in the market is usually a form of Potassium oxide or murate of potash. It looks like tiny pink coloured crystals. It is mostly inorganic. If you want strictly organic, use dried banana peels which are rich in potash.

Organic Potash Essential Soil Booster for Gardening

Potash helps the plants bloom more and bigger. Plants like Hibiscus need a lot of Potash during the blooming season. Potash must be applied to the plants on biweekly or monthly basis.

Want to start a garden? Follow these step-by-step instructions

Oil cakes

Oil cakes are easily available for the desi gardeners in India. Just like mustard and groundnut cakes, some others are coconut, soya, sunflower seed, flaxseed etc. These cakes are made from the fibre left behind after extracting the oil.

Oil cakes provide a lot of food for the plants. 

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Bone meal

Bone meal is the plant based fertilizer made out of bones of cattle. It is immensely useful for the plants and it provides better growth and larger blooms. It is an odorless off-white powder that is easily available in the nurseries. 

Use steamed bone meal which is easier for the plants to absorb and convert into food. Use bone meal at least on a monthly basis as it is one of the plant’s favourite fertilizers. While using bonemeal try to use a steamed bone meal like this one in the link : Organic Bone Meal Powder Fertilizer for Plants

Fish meal

Just like bone meal, we also get fish meal. It is extremely useful for the plants and has been used by farmers for centuries.

It is high in all kinds of nutrients and micronutrients. It is sold as fine powder after composting. You can see a good quality fish meal here: Fish meal fertilizer for plants fish meal compost

Goat manure

Goat manure is used along with cow dung manure for the crops and plants. However goat manure has more nitrogen compared to cow dung. It also provides a lot of other nutrients and improves the quality of the soil.

The goat dung is never applied directly on plants but it is left to dry and rest until it turns to manure.

Just like goat manure people use sheep manure and horse manure, whichever is readily available in the region.

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Panchagavya

Panchagavya is one of the biggest blessings for desi gardeners and Indian farmers. It is the one-in-all miraculous fertilizer for crops and plants.

Panchagavya is made of nine ingredients out of which five are derived from the cow – cow dung, cow urine, milk, cow curd and cow ghee. To this are added jaggery, banana, tender coconut and water. Mixed in the right proportions in a mud pot, it is fermented for 30 days. This is everything that a plant would ever need for its food and also to fight diseases.

All gardeners must have one bottle of this: Panchagavya Plant Growth Promoter and Pesticides Fertilizer 100% Organic Liquid

A diluted solution can be sprayed or mixed with water to put on soil. It also protects seeds and seedlings.

Wood Ash

For hundreds of years, farmers in India have used wood ash for the plants. The ash that is leftover after burning of the wood still contains a lot of nutrients that are absorbed by the plants. Crops like garlic and tomatoes thrive on wood ash : Firewood Ash For Plant Growth  Natural Fertilizer & Natural Pesticide

NPK

Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium. The three things the plants need most. There many kinds of NPK available in the market. Some are like pink crystals, some are tiny white balls. It depends on the composition – like how much N, P and K is present in that. For example, 20-20-20 means N, P and K are based on an equal proportion of this ratio. Another example is the NPK which is called Grade I – 10:26:26, which is a different ratio. NPKs can be natural and also inorganic. Check your labels or inquire your seller if you want to go organic.
Get it from Amazon:
NPK 19 19 19 Fertilizer
NPK 20 20 20 Fertilizer

Sufala

Sufala is a common fertilizer available in the nurseries for the desi gardeners. It is called a triple 15 fertilizer because of NPK content at 15:15:15. 
It is soluble in water easily. As it has balanced food content, it is very useful for the overall health of the plants and should be applied on a regular basis. It is also an inorganic fertilizer.
Buy NPK 15:15:15 Fertilizer

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Supplementary and Micronutrients

Plants use Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium the most but these also require trace amounts of other nutrients which are called supplementary and micro nutrients. Supplementary nutrients would be elements like calcium, magnesium and sulphur which are needed in reasonable amounts. Micro nutrients are very less needed, like iron, boron, copper, zinc, molybdenum and chlorine but are very important for the plant too.

DAP

Di-ammonium phosphate or DAP is a widely used fertilizer. It has very high phosphate content with some Nitrogen. The ratio of N: P is 18:46.
DAP is beneficial to many plants like succulents and crops. It is widely used in farming. It dissolves in water easily making it easy to put on plants.
Bio DAP Fertilizer for Home Plants

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Epsom Salt

Magnesium Suplhate is commonly known as the Epsom Salt is a gardener’s friend. It is a pH neutral salt which means it balances the soil and it looks like white sugar. 

Epsom salt is sprayed or applied directly to the soil and is very beneficial to the plants. It is also relatively affordable and natural. It helps plants to absorb nutrients faster and more effectively and improves the plant health.

You can use this trusted one:  Epsom Salt for plants Contains Magnesium Sulfur

Humic Acid

Humic acid is very useful for the plants. It helps the roots to absorb nutrients and stimulates their growth. As roots take up food and water from the soil, it is vital for it to stay healthy and promote beneficial microbes around it.

Hibiscus Complete Plant Care With Fertilization And Pest Control

Groundnut cake

After the groundnut is strained off the oil, the leftover extract is used as an excellent plant fertilizer. The fibre is very rich in protein, carbohydrate and minerals as nutrients.
Groundnut Cake for Plants : Organic Fertilizer for enhanced Flowering and Fruiting

Biofertilizers

Biofertilizers are special fertilizers that contain a variety of beneficial microbes (bacteria, fungi, algae). These microorganisms improve the quality of the soil, retain water in the soil and help the plants to stay healthy. 

Foliar sprays

There are many kinds of sprays that are used to boost flowering, induce hormonal growth, feed the buds, enhance flowering, keep insects away and for several other reasons. A well known foliar spray is Agromin Gold which is sprayed to provide micronutrients to the plants when it is not flowering or on a regular basis: Aries Agromin Gold Micronutrient 100 ml Liquid Fertilizer

Mixed fertilizer

This is a very broad range of fertilizer sold in the market. Generally speaking it is a mixture of mustard cake, neem cake, potash, phosphate, DAP etc. It depends upon the nursery or brand you are buying from which make them either general or specialized. Generally if you go to a nursery and ask for a fertilizer, they will hand you this one.

However mixed fertilizers also come specialized like rose food, bougainvillea food, hibiscus food etc. It is generally inorganic.

If you are a new gardener or do not have much time to spend on your gardening, you can go for these mixed fertilizers. You can check this mixed fertilizer here: Mixed Fertilizer Powder For House Plants

Here is a very informative video for gardeners in India who want to know more about these fertilizers and what the price is in the local market in Kolkata. However there is always a price difference when you buy it from it elsewhere. This is more like a wholesale market or a haat bazaar so the prices are quite low.

There are more fertilizers like sea weed extracts which I have not used yet. I will tell you more about these fertilizers later and any new ones that I come to know of and use. 

 
 
 
 
 
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