Improve Your Garden Soil By Using The Correct Fertilizer.

By: Gambo Navi


Over the years a vast mythology has grown up round the magic of fertilizers. The head gardeners of the pre-war estates had their own secret potions. Today you can find feeds that are claimed to be ideal for everything in the garden.

The truth is much less exciting. All nutrient-providing ingredients need to be reduced to the same simple compounds before the roots are able to absorb them. That means the nutrients in a liquid fertilizer containing organic salts are often immediately there for the plant roots, on the other hand the plant foods locked up in the coarsely-ground organic mix may need to wait months before release.

There is not a good or bad here, the desired speed of release and the ideal balance of nutrients will depend on the soil type, the season and the plant. No single fertilizer is the very best in all situations.

Every agriculture expert agrees that nitrogen, phosphates and potash must be added to your soil. The fertilizers which provide these nutrients are described as either 'organic' or 'inorganic'. Most powers that be agree that both kinds do important but rather different jobs.

Organic Fertilizers:
These materials are of animal or vegetable origin. Most of them provide nitrogen, and this organic nitrogen needs to be changed into a simple inorganic form before it can be absorbed by the roots. This breakdown is performed by soil bacteria. It is important to keep in mind that these organisms are not usually active in cold, acid or waterlogged soils, so the speed of action depends upon the soil condition.

Inorganic Fertilizers:
Some of these fertilizers are minerals removed from the earth - Chilean Nitrate is every bit as natural as Bone Meal. Others are manufactured and they have earned the titles of 'synthetic' or 'artificial' fertilizers. Plants are unable to tell the distinction between plant foods from synthetic or natural sources - breakdown to the same nutrients occurs before any uptake by the plant.

Inorganics are generally quick-acting, providing plants with a supercharge when used as a top dressing. They tend to be less expensive than organics and they have become a lot more popular than the old-time favourites. Just one organic fertilizer, Bone Meal, has kept its place amongst the very best-selling plant foods.

SOLID FERTILIZERS.
Garden shops display a wide array of solid fertilizers, powders or granules which are sprinkled on the soil by hand or applied through a fertilizer distributor. Powders are dustier to use than granules but are generally quicker acting. Sticks of concentrated fertilizer for insertion in the soil are also obtainable.

LIQUID FERTILIZERS.
Liquid feeding means applying fertilizer diluted with water all around the plants. In the beginning it began with soaking bags of manure in a barrel of water, bottles of concentrated liquid fertilizer then became fashionable and in recent years soluble powders have taken pride of place. All are applied through a watering can or hose-end diluter.

STRAIGHTS.
A straight fertilizer is based on a particular active ingredient. It nearly always contains only one major plant nutrient, although a few (e.g Bone Meal) contain a tiny amount of a second one.

COMPOUNDS.
A compound fertilizer is based on a mixture of active components. It nearly always includes all three major plant nutrients, although a few contain only nitrogen and phosphates.

FOLIAR FERTILIZERS.
Several foliar feeds are solid, either as leaf-feeding fertilizers or mixed with pesticides as multipurpose products. When sprayed onto leaves the nutrients enter the sap-stream within in a few hours, even where root action is restricted by poor soil conditions. A useful technique especially for Roses and sick plants. For optimum effect ensure that sufficient leaf growth is present and spray in the evening when rain is not forecast.

STEADY-RELEASE FERTILIZERS.
Many popular compound fertilizers contain both quick and easy slow-releasing sources of nutrients, so feeding goes on for some time. A true steady-release fertilizer, however, is a complex chemical which provides a prolonged supply of nutrients as it breaks down in the soil or as the outer coating dissolves. The best known example is Urea-formaldehyde.

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A fantastic amount of my time is spent in my garden, but as I am getting older and things are becoming harder to do. I have decided to make use of a company called Gardener London. So far they have given me all the help and advice that I have asked for. I still do a bit of pottering around my own garden.

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