Do I need to fertilize?
Most likely! No matter what type of plants you have, they all need the same three things to prosper...moisture, light, and food.
Most plants get their moisture from rainfall or irrigation. We can pretty much tell when we need to provide extra water to our lawns and gardens by visually inspecting the plants and soil. With outdoor plants, we know they receive light from the sun. Even on a cloudy day or in a shaded area, the light can still be absorbed by the plant. The light is transformed into energy by a process known as photosynthesis. Feeding the plant a healthy nutritious diet is by far the most difficult. The intake of nutrients happens mostly through the roots and some through the leafy parts of the plant. How can we ensure there are sufficient nutrients in the soil for optimum plant health?
Every plant is different, every soil structure is different, and the environment is different in every location. The solution is: to know your plant's needs; learn your soil structure; amend or fertilize as needed.
What is fertilizer?
Fertilizer is supplemental food for plants derived from naturally occurring substances and minerals. After carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the three most common elements used by plants are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These three elements are the foundation of most fertilizers. You may have noticed three numbers on fertilizer packaging such as 10-20-10. These numbers represent the percent of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium), found in the fertilizer. Most fertilizers also contain several beneficial micronutrients as well.
Nitrogen promotes plant growth and development. It feeds the leafy part of plants, keeping them healthy, lush, and green. Too much nitrogen can produce large plants with little or no flowers or fruits. Lawn fertilizers contain a higher nitrogen percentage than vegetable and flower fertilizers.
Phosphorus is for flowering and fruiting and promotes good root development.
Potassium is what helps convert food into energy for vigor and overall health.
Fertilizer is classified as either organic or inorganic.
Organic fertilizers would be refined naturally occurring minerals and substances such as composted plant and animal waste, bone meal, blood meal, or fish emulsion. The latter are minimally processed and are more of a soil conditioner, which includes beneficial microbes, to enhance optimal soil development. The nutrients are slowly released into the soil through decomposition. This is why incorporating compost or manure into your soil in the off-season is recommended.
Inorganic fertilizers are generally more refined or processed substances, so are often referred to as chemical or synthetic fertilizers. The nutrients are extracted from a variety of sources, such as rocks (minerals), as well as organic substances, and even petroleum products. The extraction process removes any substances that may inhibit the assimilation of the nutrients by the plant. The uptake of nutrients from these types of fertilizers is faster and more precise. These fertilizers do not generally provide long-term soil-enhancing benefits.
Why do I need to fertilize?
Total plant health. Whether planting a new lawn, flowers, trees, and shrubs for personal enjoyment, or a vegetable garden for healthy foods, we want green luxuriant grass, the prettiest colored flowers, and the tastiest fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, all the necessary nutrients may not be readily available in sufficient quantities in our soil. An added benefit is healthy plants resist pests and disease better, meaning fewer pesticides and herbicides are needed.
When Should I fertilize?
This will vary depending on what you are using. We suggest following the manufacturer’s instructions for the fertilizer you select.
If broadcasting granules over your lawn some will instruct you to fertilize several times throughout the growing season using various NPK formulas.
Another method very common in gardening is using a fertilizer injector with liquid or 100% soluble fertilizer in conjunction with an irrigation system. This method delivers small amounts of fertilizer at each watering. And of course, amending the soil in your vegetable garden each year in the off-season will build the nutrient base of the soil while slowly releasing nutrients into the soil.
What fertilizer should I use?
Selecting the best fertilizer requires knowing what your soil needs to bring it up to optimal growing standards. A soil test to analyze structure, nutrients, and pH is one of the best methods. See additional information about Soil Testing.
There are many types of fertilizers to choose from so you might first consider what you are fertilizing and the size of the area, then determine the easiest or most beneficial method of application. Remember, fertilizer requirements are different for different plants. You may not want to use the same fertilizer on your lawn as you do in your vegetable garden.
For more information about fertilizers we carry, click the link(s) at the end of each paragraph below.
AlgoPlus is an all-natural liquid fertilizer derived from naturally occurring minerals that are refined to specific nutrient ratios. AlgoPlus products are 100% water soluble, colorless, odorless, and environmentally safe. AlgoPlus fertilizers contain no chlorides or sodium. The concentrated formula is easy to use in a fertigation system, hose end sprayer for foliar feeding, or just hand watering with your watering can. While not technically “certified organic” by the USDA, AlgoPlus is safe to use in your organic gardening applications. AlgoPlus is available in a wide variety of specialty formulas also. See our selection of AlgoPlus products.
EZ-Flo Maxx products are natural organic-based liquid and water-soluble powder fertilizers used with all plant types in fertigation or foliar applications. These are specifically formulated for easy use with the EZ-Flo fertilizer injectors but are compatible with just about any injector system. At this time, although organic-based, Maxx products are not certified by the USDA for use in organic food production. When fertilizers are not enough, there are Maxx Supplements, too. Also available is an all-natural Critter-Maxx repellent that is safe for use around your vegetable gardens. See our Ferti-Maxx and other EZ-Flo Maxx products.
VermisTerra Earthworm Castings & Tea is an all-natural environmentally safe product. Certified Organic by USDA & CDFA as safe for organic farming, edible crops, and gardens. VermisTerra contains no added compost or fillers and is lab tested to be pathogen free. Can be used with all plant types. Check out our VermisTerra products.