Garden work is in full swing! Isn’t it wonderful to see how that garden changes every day, new things coming up or blooming? So exciting! Let’s make a cup of tea and sit down for a few minutes; I’ll tell you some great information that I read about fertilizer. That’s a timely topic for us!
All our plants take nutrients out of the soil to grow and produce flowers and vegetables. That’s why good soil is the first building block of our gardens. But plants can use some extra help from fertilizers.
Have you ever stood and looked at the vast and confusing array of fertilizes that are available? What to choose? First of all, be aware of what the numbers mean on the label. There are usually three numbers that stand for the proportion of certain nutrient in the fertilizer. The numbers may vary, but the order of the nutrients is always the same: nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium.
The next thing to keep in mind is what each of these nutrients do, and why you might want a higher proportion of one than another. A balanced fertilizer of 20-20-20 supports leaves, roots, and daily health of the plant. But if we want to target certain concerns, we might look for different numbers.
Nitrogen helps new leaves and branches to form on our plants. If a plant is lacking nitrogen, it will have pale, sickly leaves and will be growing slower than it should.
Phosphorous works to give the plants strong and healthy roots, and also helps flower form. If our plants needed more phosphorous, they will be struggling to produce flowers, and the leaves might be an unhealthy reddish color.
Potassium is the nutrient that gives our plants good overall health. It the plants are having a potassium deficiency, they’ll look droopy with weak stems and brown edges on the leaves. The plant will possibly drop its fruit before maturity.
Knowing what each nutrient does helps us choose the best mix for our plants. Let’s use tomatoes for an example. They are hungry plants and benefit from fertilizer. But we want to focus on the plants producing tomatoes, not growing lots of foliage. So we should look for a fertilizer that has a higher middle number (phosphorous) because why, class? Because phosphorous helps fruits form. So a 5-10-5 might be the best choice.
Whatever kind of fertilizer you choose, always read and follow the instructions carefully, because too much of a good thing can be a bad thing for our plants!
As with all things, most gardeners have a preference of the kinds of fertilizer available we like to use. We can use the water soluble fertilizer, which is very handy. We just mix it up at watering time and water the plants. But this fertilizer is not as long lasting, and we will have to mix up the fertilizer water in a week or so, depending on the schedule we have for fertilizing.
Granular fertilizers are applied to the soil, and they last longer because they feed the plants slowly. It is important to remember that the good stuff takes longer to get to the plants because the fertilizer must dissolve. Which is your favorite?
Whatever we choose, our plants will appreciate the fertilizer and reward us with increased vigor. Since our gardening season goes by so quickly, we want to make the most of it.
This week, start a gardening notebook to record what is blooming or changing each day. Makes us appreciate the beauty even more! Have a great week in your garden!