How to use Fertilizer :) for beginners

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How to use Fertilizer :) for beginners

Post by sallookhan » March 10th, 2014, 1:19 pm

How to use fertiliser? ;)
Spring is the ideal time to give your garden its annual feed. But with so many different products and formulas around, how do you know which one to use?
Soil and sunshine work together to make plants grow. In nature, leaf litter, animal manure and other goodies that fall on the soil continually break down to replenish soil nutrients and keep plants growing. In a garden where plants are often competing for nutrients and natural replenishments are sparse, gardeners need to add fertiliser to the garden soil or potting mix so their plants keep growing.

Whether you add organic matter or fertiliser to your soil, you provide your plants with three basic building blocks. These are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, often referred to by their chemical symbols of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus) and K (potassium or potash). Packaged fertilisers list the amounts of NPK each product contains, often showing it in a ratio format, called the NPK ratio.

The way plants use nutrients is quite complex and varies from plant to plant. Some need lots of one nutrient but little of another, while others need a balanced amount of each. Understanding which nutrient does what gives you
a rough guide to selecting the right fertiliser for your plants and garden.

✔Growth patterns
As a general rule of thumb, nitrogen encourages leafy growth, phosphorus stimulates overall growth and plant development, while potassium assists with flowering. Lawn foods, which are designed to stimulate leafy growth, have much higher levels of nitrogen compared to the levels of phosphorus and potassium they contain.
A plant food for general garden plants may have equal amounts of N, P and K, to encourage growth and flowering. The words ‘complete’ or ‘balanced’ often occur in the fertiliser name of products that are good all-rounders.

A fertiliser that’s designed to stimulate flowering for fruit production, such as citrus food, has smaller amounts of nitrogen and higher amounts of phosphorus and potassium. Most native plants cannot tolerate high levels of phosphorus so the NPK ratio for a native plant food will show little or no phosphorus. Fertiliser products that are derived directly from seaweed have little or no nitrogen but are rich in phosphorus and potassium.
Other nutrients

As well as the top three nutrients, plants require smaller amounts of other elements including sulfur, calcium and magnesium, which all play an essential part in plant growth. Some additional elements are also needed in very small quantities and are referred to as trace elements. They work to correct the occasional deficiencies in particular plants or soils. Trace elements, which include zinc, iron, boron, copper, manganese and molybdenum are usually packaged and sold together.

Not all nutrients stimulate plant growth alone. Products such as humic acid, compost and organic matter encourage the growth of microbes in the soil, which in turn aid root growth. These products can alter soil pH, improve drainage and create a better texture.

✔Feed on demand
Fertilisers have the biggest effect when a plant is growing or forming its buds or fruit. Most plants create new growth in spring as the weather warms, so fertilisers applied in spring will be used up quickly.

With many plants, one annual application of plant food given at the beginning of a growth cycle is sufficient. Most trees, shrubs and climbing plants will do well on this once-a-year feeding regime. If a slow-release fertiliser is applied just once throughout the year it
will release its nutrients gradually over the growth period of the plant. Mulch also provides nutrients gradually.

Other plants need frequent feeding as they are continuously using energy for growth, flowering or fruit production. Productive plants, including citrus and fruit trees, vegetables and many flowering annuals, need regular fertiliser top-ups. Plants that flower prolifically over a long period, such as roses and hibiscus, also benefit from additional feeds through the flowering period. Plants growing in tropical and subtropical climates will thrive with more frequent feeding, especially when heavy rain leaches nutrients from the soil.
Where there is little soil or potting mix, or where many plants are competing, small regular additions of plant food may be needed to keep plants growing well.
How many different fertilisers do I need?

One general organic or slow-release fertiliser can be used to feed your entire garden. If you have plants with specific fertiliser needs such as lawns, fruit trees, roses or camellias, invest in specially formulated fertilisers such as lawn food, azalea and camellia food, and rose food.
As well as being tailored for the growth needs of different plants, fertilisers also come in different forms. They can be solid or liquid, slow-release or fast acting, cheap or expensive.

The choice about which formulation to buy relates to you, your garden and your budget. As a general rule, the more convenient and easy to use the product, the more expensive it will be. The cheapest fertilisers are ones you make yourself by recycling waste through your compost heap. Unprocessed animal manures are also cheap and readily available from stables and farms.

✔A guide to formulations
Slow-release fertiliser is a small processed ball called a prill, which has a polymer or cellulose covering that slowly breaks down over time or with increasing temperatures so that it releases its contents. Prills are clean and easy to handle and distribute.

Pelletised fertiliser has been formed into small pieces called pellets. This type of easy-to-handle processing is often used to treat animal manures such as sheep or fowl manure. The pellets will break down over time.

Liquid fertiliser is powder mixed with water or diluted liquid concentrates, enabling the fertiliser to be applied via a watering can. This method is useful for targeting specific plants and for applying to pot plants. Small and easy to use and store. Hose-on is a concentrated fertiliser that mixes with water from the hose. These are easy to use and suit broad applications such as lawns.

✔The role of soil pH
Soil pH is a measure of the levels of hydrogen ions in the soil on a scale of 1–14. A pH of 1 is extremely acidic and a pH of 14 is very alkaline. Most plants like soil with neutral pH levels (7). Most potting mixes have a neutral pH.

If soil pH is very high or low, vital plant nutrients are locked in the soil and are not available to plant roots. Adding more nutrients will not alleviate the nutrient deficiency.

To test soil, buy a pH test kit from the nursery and take soil samples from different parts of your garden. If soil is very acidic or alkaline you can amend it by adding certain products. Lime increases alkalinity whereas most fertilisers make soil more acidic.
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Re: How to use Fertilizer :) for beginners

Post by Munir » March 10th, 2014, 7:59 pm

Very useful information, nicely explained.

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Re: How to use Fertilizer :) for beginners

Post by Muhammad Bilal » March 29th, 2014, 10:56 pm

Great information. So Excellent
And thanks delivering us so useful information.
Learn & Share

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Re: How to use Fertilizer :) for beginners

Post by Mustansir Billah » March 30th, 2014, 7:04 pm

JazakAllah for sharing such nice information. Last line line has maybe slight mistake. It is written that 'Lime increases alkalinity'? I thought It increases Acidity... :?

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Re: How to use Fertilizer :) for beginners

Post by mikhurram » March 31st, 2014, 1:30 pm

Lime the mineral makes the soil more alkaline, lime the fruit is not being referred.

Just a suggestion. Members should kindly check prior to posting new topic in the Knowledge Hub as to whether intended topic has been mentioned or not in the forum. Already there are already sufficient topics posted about fertlizers. By checking prior to posting we can also avoid duplication of same topics in the forum as well as avoid any clutter in the database.

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