Food For Your Garden: The Basics

Why feed your garden?  Fertilizer adds missing nutrients to your soil and your lovely plants take the nutrients up to grow, bloom, and keep green.  When you review the label on a bag of fertilizer, you will notice 3 numbers.  These numbers represent the amount of three major elements that plants need.  The first number is for Nitrogen (N), the middle number is for Phosphorus (P) and the third number is for Potassium (K).  These elements play many roles, but to note the most important: Nitrogen helps plants green up, Phosphorus promotes bloom, and Potassium aids in good root development.  Since the EPA has identified that Phosphorus speeds up the growth of algae in water, fertilizer regulations have eliminated Phosphorus from slow-release granular feeds.  (There are other ways to boost blooms, if your plants have stalled in this way.)  The best fertilizer to use anywhere in your garden or lawn is labeled 8-0-12.  When using a slow-release feed, sprinkle it around the base of the plant like you would put down chicken feed.  Water around the plant to help keep the granules in place, you don’t want them to blow or wash away.  As the plant gets watered, it will slowly take the fertilizer up and use the elements appropriately.  Most slow-release granulars also contain macro- and micro-nutrients that assist your garden along.  Fall is a great time to put down fertilizer, it’s still warm and plants are growing!

If you have specific problems with plants in your landscape, and need more detailed advice, ask us!