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Even garden soil that is rich in organic matter and nutrients can benefit from applications of certain types of fertilizer.
Think of fertilizers as nutritional supplements that improve a plant’s health, growth, and productivity. You can often tell which nutrients your soil is lacking by the deficiency symptoms plants display, which can range from yellow leaves (lack of nitrogen) to reduced flowering (lack of phosphorus) to weak stems (lack of potassium) to blossom-end rot (lack of calcium).
If you’ve grown and harvested plants in your garden in the past, they have taken up nutrients from the soil, and those nutrients should be replaced before more plants are grown there. This is where fertilizer (organic or processed) plays a role. Fertilizer replaces lost nutrients, which ensures that soil nutrient levels are at an acceptable level for healthy growth.
The general rule is to fertilize in the spring before planting most annual flowers and vegetables. For perennial plants, fertilize before growth begins in the spring. Wait until the ground is no longer frozen and the date of your last frost is only a week or so away. This ensures that there is less of a chance of the tender new growth getting immediately killed by frost.
Testing your soil is the first, and most often overlooked, step a homeowner should take when landscaping their home. The ph of your soil significantly determines how efficiently your lawn absorbs and processes fertilizer.
More fertilizer is not always better! Plants use only the nutrients that they need. Absorbing more than necessary can result in abnormal growth or adverse effects. In addition, it’s important to add any fertilizer at the right time when the plant needs it. For example, you don’t want to spur new foliage growth right before a cold winter, when the plant should be conserving its energy!
... And anything else that needs to be done to tidy up your lawn?