Hello garden gals and guys! It was a hot one this weekend, but I got out early to get my farm tasks done. Before I get to the pictures of the physical labor that I did, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about fertilizing your plants. It’s pretty important stuff.
I fertilized this weekend because I saw flowers forming on my plants, and that is always when I give them their first feeding. I also give them another dose when I see the little fruits forming.
There are so many things to know about fertilizing. Let’s start with those three numbers on the bag. Let’s take a look at a bag of Dr. Earth fertilizer (which is a really great organic fertilizer, by the way). See those three numbers there on the right? Let’s talk about that.
5-7-3. Those numbers always represent the amount of nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) which is sometimes called Potash, and always in that order.
A great way to think of what each of these does is this: up, down, all around.
Nitrogen (N), promotes leaf growth of the plant–the up part– (or in the case of lawns, nice green grass). That’s why you always see that lawn fertilizers have a high N number.
Phosphorus (P) is the middle number. This is the “down” part. It helps your plant grow a healthy root system. But it also aids in the growth of flower blooms and fruit production. So any type of fertilizer that is meant to boost blooms and fruit will have a high middle number.
Potassium (K) is the last number you see. That’s the “all around.” It keeps the entire plant healthy. It aids in strong cell development in plant tissue, which helps defend your plant against the normal stresses of the growing season (think heat, cold, bad insects and diseases). It’s like an immunization shot.
When you’re growing vegetables, stay away from fertilizers that have 10-10-10. That’s kind of an all-purpose fertilizer and will give you plenty of beautiful green leaves, but not much else.
An ideal ratio for us veggie growers is 3-1-2. If you can’t find that, 6-2-4 or 9-3-6 or numbers close to that are ideal.
What type of fertilizer should you use?
That’s up to you.
Just be sure to use organic fertilizers and follow the instructions on the bag so that you don’t burn your plant stems. Always remember, too, that more is NOT better when it comes to fertilizing.
Stay away from that fertilizer that starts with an M (you know the one), because it causes salt buildup in your soil and will render your garden useless over time. Yeah, it seems to work well, but it actually doesn’t. It’s like a steroid, and makes your plants’ stems and leaves weak and susceptible to diseases and pests.
Okay, so here’s the other thing that happened. It wasn’t my fault. I was at the co-op getting my fertilizer, right? Well, I was standing in line waiting to check out and I turned to my right and noticed this white box. It said “SALE $20”. It was a netting kit that was normally $70.
Well, my girls ate all the leaves off my pepper plants a few weeks ago. The little plants tried to recover, but they just couldn’t. So I saw this little impulse buy as a great way to keep those dang girls out of there. Here are some pics. You can see the girls were not happy.