When we see a very well-maintained garden, we’re amazed by the efforts of the person who takes care of it and if you don’t have a green thumb, you’d wish you did. But even though it’s true that anyone can have a beautiful, thriving garden with just enough effort, we all know it’s not so easy.
Aside from clearing out your piece of land, priming it to make sure that it is suitable for gardening, and sowing the seeds, you have to stick around--and keep your patience--for the maintenance stage. During this process, you have to make sure that your plants get enough water and sunlight, and of course, you have to do stuff like pruning and fertilizing.
There are lots of fertilizers out there, but many swear by one called Milorganite.
Table of Contents
What is Milorganite?
Milorganite is a slow-release fertilizer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is also one of the oldest branded fertilizers that remain available in the market to this day (it was first sold in 1926). Its name is a combination of the words Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen. And like most other fertilizers out there, Milorganite has a certain amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It also has iron so your plants will develop lush green leaves.
Milorganite is considered a natural fertilizer because, for the most part, it is made of organic materials. However, unlike what others say, it’s not made of human feces. It is made of heat-dried microorganisms that feed on organic matter in wastewater.
Since Milorganite is organic, it will not cause your plants to suffer from “burns.” In addition to that, since it is a slow-release fertilizer, it can provide nutrients to your plants for as long as 10 weeks, so you won’t have to worry about reapplying often.
Production of Milorganite
It all begins with water and liquid waste going to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District through the sewer system. The liquid then goes to two plants. The plant on Jones Island does the screening and eliminates solids of all sizes. Microbes are then added to the water and the aquatic environment is adjusted such that it is just right for the microbes to start digesting the nutrients. The microbes eventually die and they are made to stick together and sink to the bottom. The water also undergoes a step called primary clarification which allows less dense materials such as oil to float up to the surface.
After this, the liquid moves to storage channels for treatment. Here, material that appears like solid waste can be observed but no, it really is not human poop. It’s actually bacteria that decompose organic matter.
The microbes are eventually dried. This produces a solid material, which is heated at 900–1200⁰F to kill pathogenic microorganisms. Eventually, Milorganite is produced once all the steps have been completed.
Why Use Milorganite?
There are other well-known fertilizers out there, but why should you choose Milorganite? What sets it apart from the other ones available in the market?
If the fact that Milorganite is being sold for commercial use for nearly a century is not enough proof that it makes an excellent fertilizer, then what is?
First of all, Milorganite is organic and as such, it can provide the nutrients that plants need and which synthetic fertilizers can never provide even though they may be considered “stronger” fertilizers.
Second, since Milorganite is a natural fertilizer, it cannot harm your plants--or even the good microbes present in the soil that are essential to the survival of your plants--in any way. Most synthetic fertilizers take effect much faster, however, the problem with such fertilizers is that they can also harm good bacteria in the soil or the plant itself.
Third, you can use Milorganite on just about anything, from grass, flowering plants, shrubs, to massive trees.
Fourth, it was made with sustainability and the environment in mind. The process of making Milorganite is basically mostly recycling and as we know, recycling is good. It does not contain harsh chemicals that will be harmful to your plant or to the soil around it.
When and How to Apply Milorganite
The frequency by which you should be fertilizing your plant depends on the plant species and the fertilizer you are using.
With Milorganite, you can fertilize just once in the whole year, but ideally, if you are going to do so, apply fertilizer during the fall. This way, you’ll provide enough nutrients for your garden to allow it to recover fast after the winter season.
You should also consider your location when thinking about using Milorganite.
Unlike other dry fertilizers, you do not need to sprinkle a little bit of water after adding Milorganite since it will remain on the soil until the environmental conditions induce microorganisms to break down nutrients in the fertilizer. However, adding some water can help the fertilizer take effect at a faster rate.
How Long Does Milorganite Take to Work on a Lawn?
As previously mentioned, you can use Milorganite on just about anything, including your lawn. Milorganite will be particularly helpful if you want the grass to look greener.
You can see the effects from using this natural fertilizer in as early as seven to fourteen days.
There is a lot of false information about the safety of using Milorganite that is going around.
Some people strongly believe that it’s basically poop and thus, it’s gross and unhygienic. There are others who think it’s not safe because it’s basically bacteria.
However, as previously mentioned, one of the processes in the production of Milorganite involves exposure to high temperatures such that bacteria that cause disease are removed and are not included in the bags of fertilizer that are being sold in the market.
Since it is made out of wastewater, it may contain metals and pharmaceuticals, but the amount of these substances in this fertilizer is very low such ensuring that the fertilizer is perfectly safe.
If you’re still quite doubtful about the safety of Milorganite, think about the fact that it’s been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, which means it’s really not harmful to the environment, to humans and to pets.
However, just like any other fertilizer, it should be stored safely and it should never be eaten, since it’s not made for that, and consuming Milorganite orally can be extremely harmful to the body.
Frequently Asked Questions
Again, it is not. It is made out of microorganisms that break down organic matter.
Yes. It contains microbes, but they’re perfectly safe. Each bag of Milorganite that you buy has been exposed to extremely high temperatures to ensure that disease-causing bacteria are killed.
No, you can store it for as long as you want and it will always be just as effective. Just keep in a cool and dry area.
No. Killing weeds is the job of pesticides. Milorganite is a fertilizer, and the only thing it does is improve the growth and development of your plants.
Do not worry because Milorganite is non-toxic, so your dog is going to recover. But since it’s a substance that is foreign to your pet’s body, it is expected that he or she will feel uncomfortable. As soon as you notice symptoms, contact your veterinarian for advice.
If you are looking for a natural fertilizer that is safe, try out Milorganite. It is absolutely not made of human poop, unlike what most people think. And it works on just about anything, from grasses, flowers, shrubs, to trees. It is a slow-release fertilizer, so this will definitely be good especially if you’re not the type who doesn’t have the time to apply fertilizer every now and then.