It is true that chemical fertilizers will promote quick growth in your plants. Because of this, many people may question what the big deal is. Here’s the problem with quick growth: It produces weak plants. The plants do not have time to mature–to develop a good root growth, strong stems, or nutritious fruits and vegetables. Yes, your plants will sprout-up quickly, but what you’ll end up with will not be worth much. They will be less likely to survive because they will be more susceptible to pests and disease because they are not strong.
In addition, chemical fertilizers can cause root burn or fertilizer burn. This is caused by the fertilizer not allowing enough water intake for the plant. Chemical fertilizer is usually high in nitrogen salts, and if the nitrogen is absorbed by soil too quickly, it will end up dehydrating the plant, causing it to dry-up and die. Organic fertilizers are slow release, compared to chemical fertilizers, which tend to all be fast release. Slow release fertilizers will allow time for microbial activity to break down the organic materials in the fertilizer. Fast release fertilizers are kind of an “all or nothing” situation.
Which brings me to another point: The chemicals in man-made fertilizers will harm and eventually kill the natural microbes found in your soil. These include beneficial insects, fungus, and bacteria naturally found in your soil. These “creatures” are all naturally occurring and necessary for healthy soil and plant growth. Obviously applying chemicals to your plants and soil will effect these organisms.
In the broader scheme of things, we also need to consider how chemical fertilizers effect our environment and the animals living in it. The chemicals in synthetic fertilizers will eventually, and unavoidably, end up leaking into our environment’s water supply. It will be drank by wildlife and can have short term and long term effects on them–just like it would if we were to ingest these chemicals. It is our responsibility to treat our fellow creatures as we would want to be treated–especially since they have no say in how we garden!
And obviously, let’s think about the fact that we are going to eat these plants. If we are saturating the soil they grow in with chemicals, and then feeding the plants and treating them with chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides), how can we possibly think these fruits and vegetables are healthy for us to eat? What is the point of growing our own food if we’re just going to poison it before eating it?
Gardening and growing your own food couldn’t be more basic or natural. Why wouldn’t we use natural means to do so? It’s time we do away with chemical, man-made fertilizers and go back to the basics.