Suggestions for Basic Gardening Success from Our Seasoned Staff

Well-fed plants are healthier, more productive and more attractive. Plants need to be fertilized because most soils do not provide enough nblueberryourishment to keep them healthy and beautiful. Even the best soil will eventually become depleted in nutrients leaving the soil less fertile. There are six primary nutrients that plants require. Plants get the first three—carbon, hydrogen and oxygen— from air and water. The other three are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Nitrogen helps plants make the proteins they need to produce new tissue. Phosphorus stimulates root growth, helps the plant set buds and flowers, improves vitality and increases seed size. Potassium improves overall vigor of the plant.
Plant expert and co-worker, Katherine Shiohira, suggests specific food to customers when they purchase certain plants. For example, when buying blueberries, there is a specific fertilizer with an acidic mix (4-3-6) that blueberries love and this supplement will keep them healthy and vigorous after planting. The three numbers she describes on a fertilizer label tell you what proportion of each macronutrient the fertilizer contains. The first number is always nitrogen (N), the second is phosphorus (P) and the third is potassium (K). This “N-P-K” ratio reflects the available nutrients —by weight—contained in that fertilizer.
Organic fertilizer or synthetic? We recommend organic fertilizer over synthetic every time. Soils recognize organic elements that have nourished the planet for centuries. Synthetic fertilizers are man-made chemicals that interrupt the natural uptake of nutrients by the soil. They work for a while but over time they interfere with the health of the soil. Choose from organic brands in the Garden Store for everything edible that you harvest from your garden.
Liquid or pellet fertilizer? The fastest acting fertilizer will be liquid. Liquid can be applied to the soil or sprayed on the foliage. With foliar feeding plants absorb nutrients eight to 20 times more efficiently through their leaf surfaces than through their roots. An additional benefit is that most organic foliar feeds are odor-free, with the exception of fish. The fishy smell is very slight and goes away after a few days. For the most flavorful and largest tomatoes it’s worth it. Foliar feeds are best for seasonal plantings where you want the highest quality and earliest production in edibles and annuals. Pellet fertilizers are slow release and a great food for most applications. With pellets or powders the need for fertilizing is less and they are also beneficial in the fall when you want to start the spring season with healthy plants. Always follow label directions.

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