Now that the seeds are up, every gardener wonders what the right combination of fertilizers might be. One may think that by using the same procedures as last year that the plants will grow similarly to last year. In most cases they don’t due to the seedbed being prepared with different types of conditioner prior to planting in the spring.
Peat moss is the product of trees, mosses and grasses that have decomposed in an oxygen depleted environment over thousands of years. Peat increases both the water retention of soil and the pH level. If a soil has too high of a pH level certain plants as well as weeds will thrive while other species will do poorly. Azaleas do well in soils with an acidic pH value.
Composted manure is both a soil conditioner and a fertilizer that not only conditions the soil but provides nutrients for plants and food for micro-organisms in the soil that break down raw organic matter into forms that plants can utilize. Sheep manure contains more phosphorus, more potassium and more organic matter than steer manure. Steer manure has a low level of phosphorus released over a longer time period as compared to sheep manure, which releases phosphorus more quickly over a shorter period of time. Since phosphorus assists root growth, flower production and maturing of fruit, both types require help from synthetic fertilizers.
Compost is decomposed organic matter that provides plants with necessary nutrients and conditions the soil. It is the most economical as it can be created right at your home. Compost from leafy greens and grass clippings will provide nitrogen that’s essential for vigorous stem growth and leaf production. Well developed leaves will maximize sunlight intake and thereby produce more food for the flower, fruit or vegetables.
Calcium Sulphate, referred to as GYPSUM is added to clay soils so that air can permeate the soil. It has no nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium nutrients, however it does contain calcium which is good for micro-organisms as well as sulphur which lowers the pH level of soil. Lime is used to raise the pH level of acidic soils and speeds up the decomposition of compost . Lime should never be used with nitrogen fertilizers or manure as ammonia would be released rapidly and burn growing plant tissues. Lime is often used underneath evergreen trees after the needles are raked to allow grass to grow.
Now that the plants are well started it’s time to compliment the conditioned soil with synthetic fertilizer food or organic fertilizer food. Both are available in either liquid or granular form and in numerous blends to provide the right level of nutrients for many varieties of fruits and vegetables. As you apply the plant food you come across a cutworm.
Gosh darn it! These nasty nibblers can ruin a lot of plants in a matter of days. Be sure to watch for numerous other pests such as slugs, maggots, potato beetles, earwigs, corn boring worms… the list goes on and on. Don’t panic. You’ll manage just fine. If you see something out of the ordinary in your garden be sure to mention it to us. We can call the greenhouses or even the garden chemical reps. Lets hope for rain and sunshine on a timely basis.