Fertilizers, What Are They All About

By ferti-lome ® Posted: 2/26/2010 Comments (0)

Have you ever wondered "Why fertilize" or "What to look for” when it comes to fertilizers?

Why fertilize? We fertilize to provide the proper nutrients so the plants grow and develop healthy.  The plants grow in size with better foliage, flowers and fruit. They also are able to withstand stress such as drought and heat and be more resistant to disease and insects. However, over fertilization can result in rampant growth that is thin celled and weak. Fertilization also feeds your soil increasing the biological activity in it, which helps to release many nutrients that already occur for the plants.  Healthy soil supports healthy root growth, which support healthy plants.

What to look for. Fertilizers by law have to give their analysis on their label. This is referred to the NPK or percentage of N-nitrogen, P-phosphorous and K-potassium.

Nitrogen helps provide dark green color to leaves and stems and helps produce leafy growth. Nitrogen is generally lacking in our local soils and is depleted annually. Phosphorous aids in root and flower production and can help with cold hardiness.

Phosphorous is usually present in our local soils but needed for seasonal color and vegetable gardens. Potassium increases vigor and disease resistance. It allows plants to be stress hardy against drought, heat, cold and insects and disease.

Potassium gets used up as plants develop, so replacing it with fertilizer keeps it available. As your soil becomes healthier and higher in organic matter less needs to be applied. 

Now you know about N-P-K, however these elements can come from different sources. They can come from organic or synthetic sources and can be slow release to fast acting.

Organic fertilizers derive their nutrients from naturally occurring minerals and animal or vegetable waste. Organic fertilizers are nonburning, slow-release (long lasting) and generally increase biological activity in your soil which in turn releases naturally occurring elements locked tight to the clay.  Organic fertilizers go to work slower so allow three to four weeks for them to work. Organic fertilizers are what we recommend the most, especially for new yards. The organic fertilizers activate soil microbes and allow the soil to recover from new development and construction. One last advantage is organic fertilizers improve the plants' and soil's ability to absorb and utilize water.

Synthetic fertilizers are generally fast-acting (for impatient people) and their nutrients are derived from processed minerals in the form of salts. They can burn if not applied and watered in properly. Over application can result in soft, tender growth that is weaker and susceptible to disease, so apply per directions.

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