Fall Garden Fertilization

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:53 AM.

We all have to eat and most of us enjoy eating vegetables. But to produce abundantly, vegetable crops have to eat too. We have to feed them fertilizer that is. However, fertilizers can be confusing. What do the number on the bag mean? When and how the fertilizer should be applied?

Florida’s sandy soils are notoriously infertile. This is a major problem for commercial farmers and backyard gardeners alike. You can improve the fertility of your garden soil with animal manures and other kinds of organic matter. In most situations, you also need to add a commercial fertilizer.

Plants need a variety of nutrients. But the major elements you must supply are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These chemicals are always listed in that order on the fertilizer tag. The tag also shows the quantity of each major element in the mix. For example, a 50 pound bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 5 pounds of a nitrogen compound, 5 pounds of phosphorus, in the form of phosphoric acid, and 5 pounds of a potassium compound, call potash.

The type and amount of fertilizer you need will depend largely on the kind of soil in your garden. Your objective is to add only those nutrients that your soil doesn’t already contain in adequate amounts. You should remember that too much fertilizer can be as bad as too little. Of course, if you apply too little, your garden will be unproductive. But, if you add too much, you’ll waste money, and you may even injure your crops.

In order to take the guess work out of what the nutrient contents of the soil is. You will need to have your soil analyzed. But if you decide not to do a soil analysis. In general an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 fertilizer is best for sandy soils. For sandy soils, and other soils with low nitrogen content you’ll need from 2 to 5 pounds of a common balanced analysis fertilizer for every 100 square feet of garden.

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