I'll be the first to admit that I am an indecisive procrastinator, great combination hey! If there are to many choices then it can wait, its time to find something else that needs my immediate attention...ah yes, the weeds they need pulling, I'm good at that! Hence why I love to "potter" around in my garden so much! The feeling of still doing something without really doing anything, its great!
So as you can guess when it comes to fertilizer for my garden, I am completely lost! Overwhelmed to the point of not even doing it, yep that's where I am at...my poor plants! The wall of choice is dizzying, honestly I am so confused by all the varieties....liquid, granular, slow-release, rose, perennial (what, will it hurt non-perennials?) organic, foliar and the list goes on. Not to mention throw some random numbers on the side of the box (lost again) and the promise to myself this year to go organic...its enough to make me run screaming from the garden department!
Agh...what, I know its trying to tell me something?
I just want to know what to feed my yellowing lawn and my plants that aren't as vibrant as they should be, in the most organic way if possible...HELP!
I am on a mission! Mission....stay and face the fertilizer!
It has to be done or my plants are really going to suffer. In the past we have used a gardening service who did all of this for us (I know cheating!) more recently I have used organic products like kelp-food and coffee grounds, but I really didn't see much change! Maybe I am doing it wrong? The thought of over fertilizing and burning my plants does scare me, I do lean on the side of caution, maybe they are not getting enough? We have had a very wet year, maybe the nutrients in the soil is being washed away to often? My goal this year was to change and be organic only, but not at the risk of losing my plants, I have accepted that this will be a process and a learning process at that. Now to figure out what my plants need....and to just DO IT!!
First, what is in fertilizer and what are all those numbers really trying to tell me? While on an hour long online hunt for some answers, I came across gazillions of articles all with their own facts and research, however none where as well written and as easy to follow as this brilliant article at the http://www.weekendgardener.net You must check it out and really it is all you need to read, my job is done...hehe!!
The post is full of great info on how to choose the right fertilizer for the right job, what they consist of, even a great table listing all the varieties and what you would use them for. Really this is a very thorough post, thank you Weekend Gardener!
Here is an excerpt that I will refer to often...
N = Nitrogen: Encourages plants to produce dark green leaves. This is the chief staple in the diet of most plants. Yellowing leaves means the plant isn't getting enough nitrogen from sources in the soil. But it only takes a little nitrogen to do the job, and if your goal is to set fruit or vegetables, you don't want to use excesses of nitrogen because you will only get overgrown plants and little to no fruit.
Nitrogen can leach quickly from the soil requiring frequent reapplication. Nitrogen applied in the nitrate form is usually inorganic, fast acting, but can leach quickly into surface and ground water. Nitrogen applied as ammonium is from organic sources (blood meal) and IBDU (isobutylidene diurea - a synthetic organic fertilizer) and is released more slowly and lasts longer in the soil.
P = Phosphorous: Stimulates root growth. All plants need it to get their root foundation off to a healthy and vigorous start so they can support all the growth on top, but root crops and bulbs especially need phosphorous to do well. Phosphorous and potassium don't move readily through the soil and should be applied near plant roots to do the most good.
K = Potassium: Is critical to the continuing health of all plants, especially during the second half of the life cycle in fruit and vegetables when the plants are setting flowers and bearing fruit. Potassium is often expressed as potash or water soluble potash. Potassium and phosphorous don't move readily through the soil and should be applied near plant roots to do the most good.
So please wish me luck! What I have learned, is that my yellowing lawn could really use a good dose of nitrogen so the first number is what I need the most of. I'm off to buy some Alfalfa meal to spread around my lawn and garden beds! Excited to give this organic, nitrogen rich fertilizer a try.
Some other useful websites....
http://www.improve-your-garden-soil.com/fertilizer-burn.html - Avoiding Fertilizer Burn
http://www.landscape-and-garden.com - Applying Fertilizer