Hi! I’m Brandy Blaisdell. Well spring is just
around the corner and your garden will be waking up from winter dormancy, so today I’m going to tell you all about fertilizing.
You know compost is a necessary top dressing for all your gardens and your
lawn. It increases water holding ability in the
soil, loosens heavy clay soils, and contains important nutrients and trace
minerals and provides beneficial microorganisms.
But here in Central Texas our soils often require more nutrients
than the compost can provide, so you will need to add a good organic
fertilizer. If you don’t fertilize you will get fewer flowers and veggies and can also lead to more pest and
disease problems. Sending a soil sample off to a lab is the only way that you’ll know exactly what
nutrients your garden needs. But using a complete fertilizer that
contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium seasonally is OK. Now, how often you fertilize and the
type of fertilizer used depends on the plant you’re growing. Nitrogen promotes vigorous green growth, so
you wouldn’t want too much nitrogen on plants that you want to fruit or flower. Good sources of nitrogen are cotton seed
meal, alfalfa meal, blood meal, and fish products. Plants use
phosphorous to make strong roots, flowers, and fruit. You will want more
phosphorous for your flowering annuals, veggies that set fruit, and flowering
perennials. Soft rock phosphate and bone meal are good
phosphorous sources. You really need to apply these to the
roots in the planting hole or work it into the top couple inches of
soil. Potassium helps with the overall health the plant, water use, and disease resistance. And you can get
potassium from seaweed, green sand, and product called k mag. So, how do you know how much are these
nutrients you’re getting in a bag of fertilizer? Well, let’s take a look at a label.
There will always be three numbers on the front of the bag. This one is 824. Let’s break that down. The first number is nitrogen, so that 8
means that we get 8 percent nitrogen by weight, 2 percent
phosphorus and 4 percent potassium. You will notice
when comparing organic fertilizers to synthetics that the numbers are much smaller, and
the reason for this is that by law the fertilizer can only state what is
immediately available to the plant. Organic fertilizers are slow release
fertilizer that will give your plants nutrients over a longer time as the
microorganisms in the soil convert them to a form that plants can use. And you want a slow-release fertilizer
because the plant can’t use all that nitrogen all at once.
And that way the nitrogen will stay in the soil and won’t run off and become a problem
in the creeks and rivers. Organic fertilizers are also chalk full of
essential micronutrients. So, when do you apply the fertilizer?
Well you want a spring and fall application for perennials, roses, and shrubs. Lawns in Central Texas
need applications in early April and again in early October. If you’re transitioning your lawn to
an organic program then you could also add another
fertilization in mid to late June. Mature trees only need mulch and compost annually, but trees that have been on the ground less
than two years could benefit from monthly fertilizing with the good liquid
fertilizer. Veggies need to be side dressed every four
to six weeks. And native landscape plants are adapted
to lower fertility level so they don’t require regular additional feedings. but do make
sure to fertilize them when planting. Dry
fertilizers are applied with a spreader or by hand if you’re side dressing a
veggie garden. Always be sure to follow the application
written instructions on the bag. From backyard basics, I’m Brandy Blaisdell.