Fertilizers supplement the soil’s nutrient content. If you intend to maximize the health, productivity and growth of the plants you keep in your garden, fertilizers provide nutritional supplements that act as a boon for these aspects of plant welfare.
But here’s the dilemma: you want to apply fertilizer only when you are sure the soil’s nutrient content needs a boost. If nutrients are more than plants need for their growth and development, the plants would channel their energy to the right places at the wrong time.
Like, if it’s time for root development and the plant has already exhausted its energy in leaf development, then that’s abnormal, and you won’t be able to realize the full potential of your crops during that particular growing season.
Fertilizers are packed with either nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium, or a combination of two or more of these elements. And fertilizers don’t come cheaply. Therefore, knowing when to apply a fertilizer is a crucial skill that you need to master as a gardener.
In this article, we give you answers to some of the most pertinent questions that every gardener needs to know. The following paragraphs give you what you may have been looking for.
When Should I Add Fertilizers to My Garden?
When your soil is rich in beneficial microbes and nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, it’s unnecessary to apply fertilizers. This is true in untouched or uncultivated soils.
Plants take up what’s sufficient for them to thrive and produce. If you apply excess nutrients via fertilizers, then you’ll disrupt the nutritional balance that the plants have accustomed themselves. As a result, the plants may exhibit abnormalities.
On the other hand, if you had touched or cultivated your garden, then there’s a possibility of nutrient deficiency. When plants grow, they take up nutrients. You need to restore nutrients to at least the barest minimums.
But how do you determine whether your soil is nutrient-rich or not? The foremost thing is to understand the soil structure and weather conditions. Importantly, you need to test the soil. You can hook up with extension officers in your area. They will help you with laboratory analysis of soil components.
While it can seem like a foregone conclusion to add fertilizers before cultivating again, soil tests tell you exactly whether your soil is infertile or not. That’s is a huge plus given how costly fertilizers are! And so, avoid guesswork while you can if you are serious about cutting costs.
If you keep annuals like vegetables and flowers, apply general-purpose fertilizers some inches deep into the soil just before you cultivate them. On the other hand, apply fertilizers shallow or near the soil surface.
It’s important to note that plants grow fast when temperatures begin to rise above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s especially during the early fall that plants grow fast, and they take lots of nutrients during these transitions between cold and warm seasons.
Transitions are the most opportune times to apply fertilizers. During this period, the plants dedicate lots of energy toward root development. But before plants begin to grow fast, they channel their energy toward chlorophyll development so they can have sufficient capacity to manufacture more food when the root development season is in full swing.
In short, avoid applying artificial fertilizers some time before early fall so that plants can reserve their energy for root development. Most importantly, rely on weather forecasts to check out for heavy rains.
Storms wash away nutrients. When you know that a drizzling session is in the offing, apply fertilizers. Else, don’t. If need be, supply your garden with not less than .25-inches of water after fertilizer application.
Different Types of fertilizers and Apply Methods and Drawback.
Fertilizers differ in their phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N), and potassium (K) compositions. The letters or acronyms represent the symbols of the elements as depicted in the periodic table. General-purpose fertilizers have a N, P, K label of 20:20:20. These represent ratios of the amounts of elements in the mixture.
The remaining portion (40) consists of inactive and trace(macro) elements like calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), molybdenum (Mo), iron (Fe), sulfur (S), boron (B), Zinc (Zn), and manganese (Mn).
These trace elements play different roles in plant nourishment. For example, Fe supplements N in chlorophyll development without which greening, responsible for food-making, won’t occur.
Flowers require lots of phosphorus to develop. As a flower gardener, a 15:30:15 ratio of N-P-K fertilizer option makes lots of sense.
If you want to invest in leaf or chlorophyll development, then your pick should be a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, which is available as 25:6:4.
These you obtain from decayed organic matter from plants and animals. Animal and compost manure are the most types you can prepare at home. Bonemeal is rich in P and blood meal is rich in N.
However, organic and inorganic fertilizers loosely fall into two groups: granular and liquid.
These types are resistant to leaching during surface runoffs. They don’t break down easily. While long-lasting, their slowness to break down into active ingredients makes them take longer than soluble-types to exhibit effectiveness. Suitable if you want to feed your plants gradually over an extended period. If you garden infrequently, you will find delight in granular fertilizers.
These types dissolve in water, break down easily and act faster than granules, but they are susceptible to dilution due to surface runoffs, which result from storms or heavy rains. And because of the fleeting nature, you need to understand rainfall patterns before you apply them otherwise you lose. You need to apply them as frequently. Suitable as a temporary fix. If you garden regularly, you will find soluble types to be convenient.
It’s crucial to conduct soil tests to determine what macronutrients are present in the soil of your garden at every instance of pH level. The other thing to know is what types of plants do well under the weather and soil pH conditions of your garden. As well, you need to get your predictions of weather forecasting right.
While forecasts may be unreliable at times, you can guard against this uncertainty by mitigating factors such as gradient, drainage and grass thickness of your garden. Importantly, your choice of a fertilizer depends on what aspect of the plant you want to maximize, whether it’s root, leaf or flower development. Always check the label to know determine what N-P-K ratio matches your goals. We hope this guide helps.