What is Fertilizer and why do plants need it?
In order for a plant to grow and thrive, it needs a number of different chemical elements.
The most important are:
- Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen – Available from air and water and therefore in plentiful supply
- Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (a.k.a. potash) – The three macronutrients and the three elements you find in most packaged fertilizers
- Sulfur, calcium, and magnesium – Secondary nutrients
- Boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc – Micronutrients
The most important of these (the ones that are needed in the largest quantity by a plant) are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Without nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the plant simply cannot grow.If any of the macronutrients are missing or hard to obtain from the soil, this will limit the growth rate for the plant. In nature, the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium often come from the decay of plants that have died. In the case of nitrogen, the recycling of nitrogen from dead to living plants is often the only source of nitrogen in the soil. To make plants grow faster, what you need to do is supply the elements that the plants need in readily available forms. That is the goal of fertilizer. Most fertilizers supply just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium because the other chemicals are needed in much lower quantities and are generally available in most soils.
The numbers on a bag of fertilizer tell you the percentages of available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium found in the bag. So 12-8-10 fertilizer has 12-percent nitrogen, 8-percent phosphorous and 10-percent potassium. In a 100-pound bag, therefore, 12 pounds is nitrogen, 8 pounds is phosphorous and 10 pounds is potassium. The other 70 pounds is known as ballast and has no value to the plants. Be sure to visit Satellite Garden Centre and one of our associates will assist you in finding the fertilizer you need for your plants, garden or lawn.
10 Steps to A Healthy Lawn
- 1. Choose the right grass – Choose drought-tolerant grass seeds and spread them on your lawn every fall (over-seed). A thick lawn will crowd out weeds.
- 2. Mow high – To discourage weeds, keep your lawn mower blade at a height of 7 cm (3 inches). Never cut off more than one-third of the grass stem at a time.
- 3. Grasscycle – Leave your grass clippings on the lawn to return nutrients to the soil. This will reduce your need for fertilizer by 30 percent. Clippings are mainly water so they add moisture to your lawn.
- 4. Top-dress and fertilize – Once a year in the fall, use a slow-release granular fertilizer or apply a top layer of natural organic matter such as compost (top-dress).
- 5. Let your lawn breathe – Once a year, remove small plugs of earth to allow air and water to get to the roots (aerate). A pesticide-free lawn will encourage earthworms, nature’s aerators.
- 6. Water the roots – Let your lawn soak up 2-3 cm (1 inch) of water, once a week, early in the morning, to promote deep root growth. If it has rained, adjust your watering. Use a rain gauge to measure water levels.
- 7. Remove thatch – Thatch, a thick compacted layer of dead plants and grass, attracts harmful insects. Too much thatch stops water and nutrients from getting to the roots. Remove thatch by gently raking your lawn in late spring or early summer. Aerate. To prevent thatch, don’t over water or over fertilize.
- 8. Develop a tolerance for a few dandelions weeds and insects – Most insects are NOT harmful. Some are important to our environment.
- 9. Control weeds and insects – Dig out weeds and their roots by hand. Pour boiling water on weeds that are growing between patio stones, etc. Use a stick or your hands to knock insects off plants into a dish of soapy water.
- 10. Consider alternative plants – Alternatives to grass include trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers, and wild flowers (native species work best).
Please visit http://www.naturalinsectcontrol.com for all the information you will need on alternative pesticides.
Ask one of our knowledgable associates for product advice when choosing a natural alternative to pesticides. We will help you pick the proper product for your needs. We are here to help you!