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help me understand fertilizers and plant food

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
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by Mrs.Spud on June 07, 2006 07:17 AM
I look up each plant I plant and they all seem to have different needs for fertilizing and feeding. Is there an easy way to know what to use on what type of plant?

Also, I'm more interested in organic and natural rather than all chemical.

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Mrs.Spud: Idaho Mom
by Longy on June 07, 2006 07:33 AM
If you feed plants with compost, it will do well. Better than it would without it. (Unless it's a cacti maybe.)
You feed the soil organic matter and let the plants take what they need. To do this, you build humus in the soil. That fine broken down layer that occurs between mulch and soil. That's the good stuff. If you build healthy rich deep soil, you've fed your plants. Then all they need is water.
So mulch, minimise chemical use, encourage earthworm activity, and add compost and more mulch. Lucerne/alfalfa, green manure crops, animal manures, fish and seaweed extracts etc. These things all feed the soil organically, slowly releasing their nutrient at a rate that somehow just happens to be the right rate for your plants.

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The secret is the soil.
by Danno on June 07, 2006 10:45 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Longy:
So mulch, minimise chemical use, encourage earthworm activity, and add compost and more mulch.
so using cedar bark mulch isnt prolly the best idea for mulching a garden? I know my neighbor to my dad as a kid was ALWAYS throwing his grassclippings on top of his garden & spreading it around. but doesnt this rob the soil of nitrogen from the grass decomposing?
by Longy on June 07, 2006 06:24 PM
Depends on the plants and the degree to which the bark has aged Danno. I'd use weathered bark on citrus for example, or a perrenial garden bed, but not on vegies as it takes too long to decompose.
With the grass clippings, they can carry grass seed, so you may be adding weeds, and they can also mat down and prevent moisture penetration, but mixing them with leaves helps prevent this. Re the nitrogen drawdown, that is a problem with green materials breaking down, using up the nitrogen in order to begin decomposition. Once aged a little though, these mulches are fine. A handful of pelletised chicken manure will supply nitrogen to this process anyway.
I use my clippings in the compost bins, straw/hay for vegies etc and shredded trees and branches for perrenials and fruit trees.

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The secret is the soil.

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