BASIC FERTILIZER REQUIREMENTS:
Apply 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of a complete fertilizer, such
as 10(N)-10(P)-10(K)per 100 square feet of garden area.
Work the fertilizer into the soil about 2 weeks before planting.
For example: A bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10 percent
nitrogen, 10 percent phosphate and 10 percent potash. You will
have to determine your plants needs in order to select
the correct fertilizer. For example, a foliage plant that
does not produce fruit or flowers would not need a fertilizer
high in phosphorous, but would need a feed high in nitrogen
(for the lush green growth) Ex: 20-10-10. A plant that produces
many flowers would need a higher phosphorous ration, for ex: 10-20-10.
NITROGEN- Nitrogen is the first letter N on a bag of fertilizer.
Nitrogen is required for vigorous green tissue growth. This is
what makes plants green. Yellowing leaves on plants is an
indication of nitrogen deficiency, plants will eventually die.
Nitrogen is probably the most widely recognized nutrient, known
primarily for its ability to "green up" lawns. Nitrogen mainly
affects vegetative growth and general health. Chlorophyll, the
green substance in plants responsible for photosynthesis, is largely
composed of nitrogen. It is also used heavily in new shoots, buds,
and leaves. Air contains about 78% nitrogen, but atmospheric
nitrogen is not readily available to plants. They must absorb
it through the soil. Ammonium and nitrate are both readily
available forms of nitrogen, but they are common in chemical
fertilizers and leach heavily and quickly out of the soil.
Nitrogen can be applied organically in many ways, including
composted manure, blood meal, canola meal, fish powder and various
liquid organic fertilizers. Keep in mind that many organic dry
fertilizers are slow-release, helping the long-term nitrogen
content and building up organic matter in the soil.
Nitrogen deficiency is recognized by the yellowing of older
leaves, slowing or stopping of growth. Leaves may drop sooner
than expected. Excess nitrogen is recognized by extremely fast
growth, resulting in long, spindly, weak shoots with dark green
leaves.Sources of nitrogen: manure, blood meal, cottonseed meal,
fish emulsion, manure tea or a commercially prepared fertilizer.
PHOSPHATE – Phosphate is the 2nd letter on a bag of fertilizer.
Plants need this to stimulate good strong roots. It also aids in
the production of fruits and flowers. Symptoms include stunted
growth and extremely slow growth rates. Phosphorus is important
for healthy roots and is used more heavily during blooming and seed
set. Phosphorus is easily rendered unavailable to plants when the
pH is slightly unbalanced. It is released in soil through
decomposing organic matter.
Phosphorus deficiency is recognized by dull green leaves and
purplish stems. The plant is generally unhealthy, sometimes yellowing.
Lack of blooming with lush green foliage may also indicated a lack
of phosphorus. Organic phosphorus can be found in rock phosphate,
bone meal and various liquid organic fertilizers such as fish
emulsion. Sources of phosphate: bone meal, rock phosphate or
a commercially prepared fertilizer.
POTASSIUM – Potassium is the 3rd letter(K) on a bag of fertilizer.
It helps promote less water loss in plants and helps their roots
take more water into the plant. It also aids in making plants more
disease and insect resistant. Symptoms include dry leathery leaves
and brown curly edges. Potassium, sometimes known as potash, is
important for general health of plants. It is key in the formation
of chlorophyll and other plant compounds. Potassium is also known to
help with disease resistance.
Potassium deficiency is hard to symptomize, but plants are
generally sickly, with small fruit, yellowing from the older
leaves upwards, and sickly blooms. Sources of organic potassium
include sul-po-mag (sulfate of potash magnesia, quick release),
greensand, and liquid fertilizers such as Earth Juice's Meta-K.
Sources of potassium: wood ashes, leaves, greensand, or a
commercially prepared fertilizer.