Maximum Living Gardening: Understanding Fertilizers
Understanding fertilizer and its applications can be a really easy task. Once you understand it what it is and how it works, you will be able to identify problems with your gardening and address them appropriately.
Fertilizers will help keep your garden healthy and happy, and the plants will thank you by giving you more flowers, and fewer insect and disease issues.
I like to look at fertilizing a plant like a human taking vitamins. It’s what’s necessary to have an optimum life cycle when we are not able to get all that is needed out of a food supply or source.
There are 6 primary nutrients plants need for optimum health. Oxygen (O), Carbon (C) and Hydrogen (H), which plants get from the air and water. It’s the other three- Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) that plants need from the soil, but all in different quantities depending on the type of plant and the season.
Fertilizer labels will have three numbers in a row that tell you the proportions of the nutrients based on the overall weight of what you are purchasing. So, for a 15lb bag of fertilizer the ratio on the bag may say 2-5-2. This would mean that there are 2lbs Nitrogen, 5lbs of Phosphorus, and 2lbs Potassium with the rest being filler, always in that order.
Nitrogen (N)- Helps plants produce new green foliage, but if the supply is too much your plant won’t produce flowers or fruit.
Phosphorus (P)- Helps to create flower buds, seed development, root growth and overall good plant vitality.
Potassium (K)- Helps to maintain the overall health of the plant and helps the plant in resisting disease. Potassium is also known in the plant world as “potash”.
Feeding your plants through their foliage can be very effective, as plants can be much more efficient at absorbing nutrients through their leaf surface rather than through the roots. Sometimes even twenty times more efficiently, so keep that in mind when purchasing fertilizer.
One quick tip to remember is that organic natural fertilizers help to improve the overall structure of the soil over a longer period of time whereas the synthetic fertilizers are water-soluble and tend to be more of an instant fertilizer but not sustaining.