Little rain and lots of heat are leaving many folks wondering if they should continue fertilizing their lawns and plants this summer. The answer is an unqualified yes.
"You have to fertilize continually throughout the summer months," said Cynthia James, nursery manager at Springwood Nursery on Cox Road in Evans. "Your plants need that fertilization once they get established."
Plants should be fertilized when they are put in the soil and again once they begin to grow, James said. Fertilizers contain a combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that is necessary for a plant's growth.
But with all of the various fertilizers on the market, which ones really help your plant produce the most bang for the buck?
While organic fertilizers -- manure, peat, seaweed -- and inorganic fertilizers -- comprised of inorganic chemicals or mixtures -- produce many of the same results, it is the organic fertilizers that are storming the market.
Why organic fertilizers? For the same reason that people buy organic produce and work for a safe, clean environment for future generations: using organic fertilizers helps keep chemicals out of the soil and out of water systems.
Whether an organic fertilizer is naturally occurring, such as manure, peat or seaweed, or manufactured, such as compost, bone meal or bloodmeal, really doesn't matter.
"They pretty much all do the same thing," James said of either type of naturally occurring and manufactured organic fertilizers.
While organic fertilizer comes in both liquid and granular forms, James suggests using the granular form so that you don't have to use it as often.
In the recent heat, it's important to water your plants every other day or at least three times a week.
"I water my garden every other day because it's in full sun," she said. "If you are watering every other day, you are going to wash that liquid fertilizer away. With the granular fertilizer, you should only have to apply it every six to eight weeks."
Organic fertilizer comes with an added bonus: apply today and water in tomorrow. Organic fertilizer, as James notes, doesn't burn the plants if you don't water it in immediately. However, stronger inorganic fertilizers might kill a plant if it doesn't get watered promptly.
Travis Saling, known on the Web as The Westside Gardener, suggests that organic fertilizers are gaining in popularity for a number of reasons.
First of all, it's harder to over-feed your plants with an organic fertilizer.
Secondly, organic fertilizers provide a "much more even feeding over the long term."
Ann Lovejoy sums up her desire for organic gardening in her book Ann Lovejoy's Organic Design School: "What I like best about organic gardening is the result -- an easygoing, healthy haven full of birds, blossoms and beauty."
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