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All about Fertilizers!

What are Fertilizer Fridays?

At Cedar Hill Gardens, we like to use "Fertilizer Fridays" as a reminder of our once a month fertilizer day! We mark the first Friday of each month on our calendars. It is easy to remember, and you won't have to guess if you fertilized your garden. This is a great once a month habit to incorporate into your gardening. I think of fertilizers as restocking my soil’s “pantry”. As your plants pull what they need, your soil can get depleted of certain nutrients. Fertilizers are the perfect way to restock your soil with all the things your plant needs to ensure happy and healthy growth that can produce beautiful flowers and veggies.

What is "NPK"?

When you look are shopping for a fertilizer, you will see three numbers on the packaging. Those are known as your “N-P-K” ratios. These numbers provide important information about how much of each nutrient the bag has inside: N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K(potassium). A fertilizer that lists 20-5-5 means it has four times more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium. Now, what do each of these provide for your plants? Nitrogen is going to help promote foliage growth on your plant. Phosphorus is excellent for developing roots, flowers, and fruit. Potassium helps boost the plant’s overall metabolic health.

Specific Fertilization Needs:

A balanced fertilizer, with the same number for NPK, is always a safe bet. However, if you are fertilizing with certain goals in mind, you can target specific areas. For example, in my vegetable garden, I use a fertilizer that has a higher phosphorus (the second number) than the other two. If you have ever noticed your tomato leaves turning purple, phosphorus is something good to add as well. You can add those specific nutrients to your plants depending on its needs. To supplement with nitrogen, you can add blood meal. To supplement with phosphorus, you can add bonemeal. For extra potassium, you can add potash. All of these are available at nurseries as well as big box stores. (*Keep in mind, if your garden is open to your pets, specifically dogs, they may smell the blood or bone meal and dig!)

Fertilizer Recommendations:

My very favorite line of fertilizers is made by Espoma. They offer a starter fertilizer, Biotone, that I add to every single hole I dig. Not only does it have great NPK ratios for seedlings and transplants, but it also includes mycorrhizae-which is a beneficial bacteria that helps roots uptake nutrients. Espoma also makes fertilizers that cater specifically to certain plants: Tomato Tone, Garden Tone, Hydrangea Tone, etc. All of these are granular fertilizers that you sprinkle on the soil and work in with your hands or a garden rake. This company also makes a liquid Tomato Tone that I use on all of my vegetables. It is a concentrate, so it does require diliuting with water before applying to your garden. Another favorite liquid option is Alaska Fish Fertilizer. It is stinky, but it works fantastic!

You can find all of our fertilizer recommendations HERE on our Amazon Storefront.

-Maddie McGuffey, Cedar Hill Gardens consultant

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