The Perfect Time And Best Methods To Fertilize

Introduction.

Gardening has got several benefits that make it one of the best and indeed a popular hobby. It’s not only a great stress reliever and good for your heart, but it also gives you a sense of achievement.

If you love gardening, you’d agree that one of the biggest sources of confusion relates to fertilizers.

  • What’s, is the best time to fertilize?
  • How to apply fertilizers?

Most people make a mistake in either of these aspects, only to repent later. In this article, we discuss these key facets.

What are Fertilizers and Why Do We Need Them?

Fertilizers are nothing but the nutritional supplements for plants. Just like any other living being, plants also need certain nutrients to grow and survive. Generally, they obtain these from the soil; but if the soil doesn’t have an adequate quantity of these constituents, you need to substitute with the help of fertilizers.

Fertilizers can be of natural or synthetic origin and can have different percentages of chemicals; available in granular or liquid forms. The primary nutrients that constitute a fertilizer are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K); that’s why term NPK is a common terminology in fertilizers.

Which Fertilizers to Use?

To decide upon the type of fertilizer to use for your garden, you’ve to find out what nutrient is lacking in your soil. Which fertilizers to use can be accurately determined by observing the symptoms of deficiency in your plants. While a lack of nitrogen results in yellow leaves, phosphorus deficiency causes fewer flowers, and a shortage of potassium affects the stem strength.

Now that you know the basics of fertilizers let’s find out more about the right timing for applying and the application process of fertilizers.

The Right Time to Fertilize.

As you can now appreciate, it’s difficult to generalize the best time for fertilizer application. When best to fertilize depends on the kind of plants, levels of nutrients in the soil, and the type of fertilizers used.

Remember is that the fertilizer manufacturer knows best about the optimal application rates; therefore, you must follow the instructions given on the pack. Even if two fertilizers have a similar nutrient content, the application will depend upon their types. Fertilizer may be organic or synthetic, water-soluble liquid, granular, or time-released. More so, different plants will need varying quantities of fertilizers at different stages. Here are a few guidelines:

1.      Shrubs and Trees.

Applying fertilizer at the root level while planting shrubs and trees allows the plants to get a continuous supply of nutrition from the soil at their desired rates. Applying fertilizer at the root level while planting gives a constant and steady reserve of nutrients for the plants, from where they can draw their dose as required.

On the other hand, for trees and shrubs, you need to apply fertilizers on an annual basis. You can fix anytime for application, but the early spring season the best for fertilizing. Note that, if there are no signs of malnutrition shown by the plants, they may be getting their share of nutrients directly from the soil. In such cases, you need not use fertilizers.

2. Perennial Plants.

While planting new perennial plants, incorporate an all-purpose organic fertilizer at the bottom of the pit. Incorporate an all-purpose organic fertilizer will help your growing plants to get their nutrition from the soil; an all-purpose fertilizer will provide adequate amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc. to them.

For established perennial plants, just like shrubs and trees, applying fertilizer once every year is generally sufficient. Applying fertilizer in the early spring for perennials like rhubarb, berries, asparagus, etc. is effective.

3. Flowing Plants.

While the spring bloomers like hyacinths and tulips, generally don’t need any fertilizers, specific soils may need fertilizer application depending upon deficiency symptoms. You may fertilize perennial bulbs like alliums and daffodils post-flowering.

The flowers that bloom during summer, such as lilies, dahlias, and gladiolas, need fertilization while planting. A mid-summer fertilization may be necessary for dahlias and other flowering plants that need higher quantities of nutrients.

4. Annual Plants.

Annual vegetables and flowers need more nutrition to grow; therefore, annual vegetables and will require repeated application of fertilizer. Apply an all-purpose granular fertilizer while planting such saplings; this provides them a regular supply of nutrients during growth stages. After that, use liquid fertilizer to supplement their supply every month during mid-summer; the frequency of application should be no more than twice a month.

Optimum Application.

Contrary to the common belief, the growth and health of plants aren’t always directly proportional to the quantity of fertilizer used. If malnourishment is bad, an overdose of fertilizers can be equally harmful to the plants. Just like other living creatures, overfeeding of plants with a particular nutrient leads to problems.

Although you need to ensure that your plants get their share of nutrition, you don’t want to provide too much. An excess amount of nitrogen reduces the production of fruits and flowers while increasing foliage. Overdose of phosphorus hinders the plants from absorbing adequate zinc and iron from the soil, thereby affecting their overall health. If there’s too much potassium, the plants won’t be able to absorb their share of calcium.

Apart from adversely affecting plant health, the excess fertilizers may also cause water pollution by percolating into the groundwater. This polluted water then feeds the waterways, which leads to damages to the entire ecosystem. It’s therefore, essential to apply fertilizer judiciously.

Best Methods to Apply Fertilizer.

Now that we know the correct timings of the application of different types of fertilizers for different varieties of plants, you’re ready for the next step. Let’s have a look at the best ways of fertilizing your plants. There are several methods of applying fertilizers to your plants; broadcasting, placement, pellet application, and drilling are some commonly utilized methods.

Discussing them all is beyond the purview of this article, and it’ll be done in subsequent articles. Two of the most favorite and effective fertilizer application methods are:-

1. Topdressing.

Topdressing a type of the broadcasting method and frequently used for fertilizers rich in nitrogen. As the name suggests, the fertilizer applied from the top on crops that densely planted. This method allows the plants to easily absorb the nutrients as the fertilizer is in the top layer of soil. However, it has a few disadvantages, like promoting weed growth and underutilization of fertilizer.

2. Side-Dressing.

Side-dressing is a placement method of fertilizer application. The fertilizer is applied out placed in between the plant rows or around each plant. The following side-dressing methods can accomplish it:

Row Placement.

Nitrogenous fertilizer placed between rows of crops such as cotton, sugarcane, maize, etc.

– Individual Placement.

 For apple, papaya, mango, and similar trees and the grapes, the fertilizer placed around the roots.

Comparison Between Top Dressing and Side Dressing.

While the topdressing method is faster and less costly than side-dressing, it needs rains to make it effective. In the absence of rains, the top-dressed fertilizer won’t be able to reach to the place roots and hence gets lost or decomposed.

On the other hand, although the side-dressing method is slower and costs more, the fertilizer is less likely to be lost. It’s much easier for the plants to absorb the nutrients when fertilizer is placed near the roots.

Soil Amendments.

Soil Amendments are nothing but natural organic items that are added to the soil to amend its characteristics. Soil amendments may be necessary to improve soil fertility or other physical properties. In this section, we shall discuss soil amendments for enhancing its ability to support the growth of plants.

As already seen, fertilizers add essential nutrients to the soil; so, what’s the difference between fertilizer and a soil amendment element? Whereas the former can be natural or synthetic, the latter is always organic. Chemical agents can provide the necessary nutrients to the plants, but the amendments hi a step further as they improve the soil’s drainage and texture. The following are the two most effective and useful soil amendments:

1. Compost.

Compost is an organic matter that’s formed through decomposition of organic waste materials such as leaves, fruit, and vegetables remains, etc. This process called composting, and it breaks down organic waste to produce this excellent element. Compost is not only a great fertilizer, a natural pesticide, but also a perfect conditioner for the soil.

An ideal compost will consist of the following three components in the right proportions:

– Greens.

Greens consist of vegetable and fruit waste as well as grass pieces. It provides nitrogen to your compost.

– Browns.

Dead branches, leaves, and twigs compose the brown portion. These add carbon to the compost.

– Water.

It not only allows perfect mixing of the browns and greens but also supports composting.

2. Alfalfa Pellets.

Normally used to feed animals, the alfalfa pellets have been found to have a high percentage (5%) of absorbable nitrogen. It also has some traces of triacontanol, which is known to be a natural growth promoter for plants. Its pelleted form makes it easy to apply. It acts as a slow-releasing fertilizer and hence provides nutrition for a long duration.

Conclusion.

Fertilization is an important activity to get good crops and a beautiful garden. For best results, use the right type of fertilizer at the correct time and apply it in the most efficient method. You must not only observe your plants closely to understand their requirements but also read the instructions given on the fertilizer pack. In case you’ve got any further queries, we’ll be happy to answer them. Happy Gardening!

Common Types Of Microgreens

With the cooler weather of fall upon us, it is time to conder moving our gardening efforts indoors, which make growing microgreens an appealing option.

But what to grow as microgreens?

Considering most garden vegetables and herbs can be grown as Microgreens, the options are many. So, which microgreens to grow for your family depends on what your family eats regularly, and Your family’s taste preferences. 

Most Common Types oF Microgreens

The broad type of microgreens (listed below in family groups)  Should provide the basics of what kind of taste the microgreens will have, and the growing conditions the type of microgreens prefer:

Amaranthaceae family:

  • The Amaranthaceae family includes amaranth, beets, chard, quinoa, and spinach.

Amaryllidaceae family

  • Amaryllidaceae family includes chives, garlic, leeks, and onions.

Apiaceae family

  • The Apiaceae family includes carrot, celery, dill, cilantro, and fennel.

Asteraceae family

  • The Asteraceae family includes chicory, endive, lettuce, and radicchio.

Brassicaceae family

  • The Brassicaceae family includes arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, and watercress.

Cucurbitaceae family

The Cucurbitaceae family includes cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and squashes.

Lamiaceae family

  • The Lamiaceae family includes the most common herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, sage, and oregano.

Poaceae family

  • The Poaceae family includes grasses and cereals like barley, corn, rice, oats, and wheatgrass.
  • The Poaceae family also includes in legumes, including beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

Related References

Commonly Used Perennial Culinary Herbs

Perennial herbs are an excellent choice for your garden. Perennial herbs continue to grow and provide fresh herbs for your kitchen for many years if given a little care.

You can prepare a mouthwatering recipe by using Perennial herbs. Perennial herbs are good for your health, and you can also use them to make salads, stews, and soups.

Perennial herbs can be grown at ease, and the best part is that you can harvest them at any time of the year. Some of the most commonly used perennial culinary herbs are:

Mint

Mint is recognized to be one of the well renowned perennial culinary herbs which are used for cooking on an extensive scale. Though it is lemony or bit-peppery in its raw form, mint leaves a cool after taste.

Mints have slightly dented, pointy, oval, and bright green leaves along with the sturdy stem. Mint is used for cooking on an extensively in Middle-Eastern and North African recipes.

This herb emanates a refreshing smell. The intense flavor of this herb makes it the best option to cook fish sauces, peas, lamb, vegetables, and chocolate. You can also use mint to prepare tea and other beverages. The most popular varieties of mint which are used for cooking include spearmint, good old peppermint, and apple mint.

Rosemary

It is another popular favorable herb that can be used for cooking vegetables, meat, and poultry. In addition to this, you can also use it with apricots, garlic, roasted potatoes, and roasted chicken. You are going to love this plant for its delightful scent.

They are used on an extensive scale in different types of floral arrangements. The intense flavor of this herb contributes to being one of the prominent reasons why this herb is used for cooking across the globe. It has needle leaves along with hard woody stems.

Sage

This is another worth mentioning name in the list of perennial culinary herbs, which is used for the preparation of Balkan and Italian dishes. You can fry it with light batter for preparing pork, sausages, and bacon.

You can also make the best use of this herb for preparing fresh stuffed pasta, butter, rabbits, eggs, to name a few. Furthermore, you can use this aromatic herb for making sauces, seasoning meats, and vegetables. Sage in its dried form emits strong flavor.

Dill

This herb has earned a high reputation for its fresh aroma and amazing delicate flavor. The leaves of this plant are soft and light. It is used for the preparation of Eastern and Northern cuisines. Dill is an ideal choice for cucumbers, green soups, salmon, beetroot, cream, pickles, and other recipes. Dill can also be used to season peas, potatoes, lamb, and fish.

Oregano

This perennial herb is primarily grown in the warm climate of Mediterranean and Eurasia. Also referred to as the wild aroma, it is used to flavor a plethora of American and Italian dishes. Oregano is commonly used in the preparation of Turkish, Grek, and Mediterranean dishes. Oregano, also, goes well with olive oil, tomatoes, lamb, pizza, yogurt, and kebabs.

Spring is the ideal season for growing this herb. This delicious herb comes with a lovely smell, and you can use it for different purposes in your kitchen.

Winter Savory

It is recognized to be the perfect herb for the preparation of cold and warm dishes. You can use winter savory to make tasty teas. winter savory is useful in adding an aromatic flavor to a plethora of recipes.

Besides this, it boasts of a bunch of anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. The intense flavor of this spicy herb makes it an ideal choice for the preparation of poultry, beans, and fish. You can also use it for garnishing the salad and flavoring the liqueurs.

Lemon Balm

This perennial herb comprises of medicinal properties, and it is regarded as an ideal option for the kitchen. You can use lemon balm to garnish meals. It can also be used for the preparation of teas and other beverages.

Lavender

This perennial herb produces a variety of purple flowers which add to the beauty of the garden. It is used for the preparation of dressings and salad. It offers a bit of sweet flavor to a plethora of dishes.

The dried lavender buds and lavender syrup make it the ideal choice for the preparation of Lavender marshmallows and scones. This herb also consists of different health benefits, which make it the prime choice for cooking.

Thyme

The perennial herb tyme can found in most kitchens. Tyme is known to have a pungent, earthy, and lemony smell. tyme is used widely in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries recipes.

Tyme can be used in barbecue meats, eggplants, mushrooms, chicken, roasted vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and goat cheese. You can also add this herb for preparing stews and soups.

Conclusion

The above-mentioned herbs are regarded as the best option for the preparation of different cuisines. They are used primarily after drying, and their flavor and aroma enhance the taste.

The best thing about these perennial herbs is that perennial herbs can easily be grown in pots, in your yard or in your garden. All you need is an adequate amount of water, right exposure to light, and care and you are good to go.

GROWING CILANTRO AND CORIANDER OUTDOORS

Coriander is easy to grow and is best used fresh, and therefore is a very good choice for growing your own kitchen herbs. Especially if you like cooking, Asian or Latin food. Coriander finds several uses because both the leaves and seeds are used as food. The leaves of coriander are, called cilantro, can be chopped and used for garnishing or used while cooking in a variety of dishes including, rice, soups, salsa, and more.

To grow coriander, you need to provide the plant with a lot of sunshine as is the case usually when growing kitchen herbs though when the sun is at its peak; it prefers some shade. If the plant is not cared for well, it very often does not grow rich foliage and instead of flowers and produces seeds. So, if you are growing coriander for its leaves, you should keep the conditions right for its growth.

Coriander can be grown directly from its seeds by sowing them in the soil.

Cilantro is really easy to grow, fast growing, and does not require a lot of work. 

Growing Cilantro and Coriander in The Garden

Cilantro was one of the first herbs/spices grown by the early colonists in America. Growing a few feet of Cilantro in the Spring, and areas with milder winters as a fall and winter crop will provide plenty to eat, dry for later use and/or to let go to seed in hot weather to use as Coriander spice.

Cilantro As A Companion Plant

If you are a believer in companion planting Cilantro is said to:

  • be a good companion to anise, tomatoes, and peppers
  • be a bad companion plant for fennel
  • repel aphids, Colorado potato beetle, and spider mites
  • attracts bees when in bloom

When to Plant Cilantro

When to plant cilantro depends on the general climate condition in which you live and the specific average hardiness frost dates.  The general strategies vary somewhat depending upon whether you live in northern or southern regions of the United States.

In The Northern

Plant cilantro a two or three weeks before the last frost. To have a steady harvest throughout the summer, plant cilantro every couple of weeks until late autumn.

In the South

Plant in the beginning in early autumn to have a winter (until a killing frost sets in) and two or three weeks before the last frost for spring harvest.

Days to maturity

Cilantro takes about 30 to 40 days from planting to harvest as green herbs and 40 to 50 days for the seeds to be ready for harvesting as coriander.

How to Grow Bush Beans

Bush beans are grown in gardens, commercial as well as domestic, since a long time as long as humans have started gardening. The main reason for growing bush beans in domestic gardens is that this wonderful food can be used as a good source of protein as well as green vegetable. The information provided in this write-up will help you to know how to grow bush beans in your garden.

Advantages and disadvantages of growing

Growing bush beans in your garden may have some advantages and disadvantages like:

Advantages

  • Generally, bush beans are easier to grow as they require less maintenance
  • Bush beans are self-supporting and space saving as they rarely grow more than exceed 24” in height
  • Bush beans will provide crop in bulk after a period of three to four weeks
  • Bush beans are popular more among those who can or freeze their beans
  • Bush beans can be grown as green manure

Disadvantages

  • They do not grow well if planted at the same location every year
  • You will have to change its location every time you grow them
  • Continuous picking can increase its yield to some extent but less than other varieties including pole beans

Planting Bush Beans

Normally beans including bush beans can be sown directly in the garden as well as indoor. Small bean plants sown indoor can be transplanted to the garden later on. The seeds of bush beans can be sown indoors from 10-24 days before planting them in the garden. They should be sowed in moderately hot weather temperature. If you want to sow their seeds directly in the garden, then they should be sowed in 3 feet apart rows and nearly one inch deep in the soil.

Growing Seedlings

When the seeds are sown indoor then well, grown-up seedlings can be planted in the garden in single or multiple wide rows. The distance between plants should be almost 4 to 6 inches. Densely sown seeds can also be thinned by transplanting them in the garden at a distance of nearly 4-6 inches away from each other. If you do not have space in the garden, then you can also cut some of the seedlings with scissors, without disturbing their roots, to thin the plantation of bush beans.

Transplanting Seedlings

The grown-up seedlings of bush beans can be transplanted into the garden when the temperature of the soil is sufficiently warm to encourage their growth at an outside location. The late spring can be the right time to transplant seedlings of bush beans.

Succession Planting

If you want to harvest the crop of bush beans for a longer time, then you should grow them in succession. Usually, bush beans start producing all at once. So to get them for a longer time you should plant them after every 2 weeks. It is known as Succession Planting of bush beans.

Insect and Pest Control

After planting bush beans, the first few weeks are very crucial to ensure the productivity and survival of their plants. Some time seeds of bush beans do not germinate due to various reasons including the coldness of soil, too deep sowing of seeds, seeds are old or damaged by pests, etc. In such condition you will have to observe the plants frequently, at least 2-3 times in a week, to find the signs of pests and insects as well as diseases.

The problem of insects and pests can be controlled without affecting the quality of the crop by rotting their plants if you grow these plants every year. Insects are more attracted to weak plants whereas healthy plants can tolerate the damage caused by the pests. You can also control the infestation of the insects and pests in your bush bean plants by inspecting them regularly and focusing on the damages caused by them like leaves damaged by insect-eating, discoloration of leaves, markings on fruit surface or dying-back tips of plants. You can easily prevent any damage to the quality of the fruit as well as the health of the plant by controlling the problem of pests and insect before they harm your plants or fruits.

Controlling Diseases and Problems

The yield of your bush bean plants can also be affected by various types of plant diseases. You can easily control the problems caused by diseases by:

  • Sowing certified and free-from-disease seeds, Planting the seedlings in well-drained soil in enough light.
  • Avoid splashing water on the foliage and
  • avoid overhead watering
  • Avoiding overcrowding plantation
  • Digging out dying or diseased plants and cleaning up the debris
  • Investigating the problems experienced by weak plants 
  • Avoiding planting or transplanting bush bean seedlings in infected areas

When Are Bush Beans Ready To Harvest Ripe?

As green beans:

Green beans of bush beans can be ready to harvest within 50 – 55 days of planting them. The time of maturity of the beans can depend upon the variety of seeds you have sown.

As dry beans

Dry beans or bush beans can be harvested when they grow up to full maturity. Normally, the pods of beans are considered to be fully matured when the leaves of the plants dry up and start falling. The size of the pod by the time of their full maturity can vary from 3-4 inch to 12-14 inch depending upon the season you have grown them or the variety of seeds used while sowing.

Harvesting

Green bush beans can be harvested nearly 50-80 days after planting them. The size of the beans at the time of harvesting them can vary according to their use. If you want to eat them as a green vegetable, then you should not allow them to become yellowish in color as it can reduce the yield of the plant along with affecting their taste. Green beans should be picked up frequently to maximize their output as well as quality.

Storing

If you want to store bush beans, then you remove their pods nearly ¼ inch above the fruit while harvesting them. While removing pods, you should be careful to damage the plant. They should not be crushed if you want to harvest the crop for a longer time. These pods can be dried to store for future use. You can also freeze or can bush bean t use them in the near future.

Related References