Master Gardener tip: Fertilization

Cottonwood District Master Gardener press release
Master Gardener
Cottonwood District Master Gardener

One of the most misunderstood aspects of any gardening project is fertlization. The subject brings up many questions, why, how, when, what.

If you read an earlier column about soil testing, you know that a key to knowing what product to use in fertilizing lawns and gardens has to do with nutrients the landscape may be lacking.

There are 17 elements essential to plant growth. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are primary macronutrients. These 3 are required by plants in quantity for maximum growth potential. Secondary macronutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur. These 3 are usually present in sufficient quantities in the landscape. The micronutrients are just as important but in smaller quantities.

So, the why of fertilizer use is to supply missing nutrients.

The fertilizer analysis given on a package refers to the amount of the element present. It makes no difference whether you use an organic or chemical fertilizer as long as it contains essential nutrients. Products may also contain a pesticide or herbicide (kills bugs or weeds). The major reason to buy one of these products is convenience. However, this may not be the best course of action due to timing. When to apply the product is as important as what you use. Application of a combined product may not coincide with the appearance of a disease or pest. While it is extremely important to pay attention to the ingredients in any product used, it’s especially important to look at the label on these products as

some may contaminate food crops if used on the vegetable garden. Reading the label will give a person the information required to know how to apply the product.

This subject can be very confusing but it’s worth taking the time to do some planning and research to avoid not just wasting money by buying a product that may not do the job for the landscape but may also contribute to pollution of the surrounding environment.

Master Gardeners of Ellis County, Cottonwood District.