Lawns and gardens grateful for a little help from fertilizers

In many areas growing a healthy lawn or vegetable garden can be accomplished with little help. Yet, in most areas it pays to be nice to nature and to give it a hand.

Most gardens will produce healthier and more abundant crops when a commercial fertilizer is used. A general guide to follow is an annual application of 25 to 30 pounds of a commercial fertilizer or plant food per 1,000 square feet.

Three numbers are listed on the fertilizer bag or box, and these describe the contents by percentages.

The first number represents the amount of nitrogen, which is needed for plant growth, good color, and density of leaves. Nitrogen is not stored by most plants and must be supplied periodically. There are many sources of organic nitrogen, but these often take more time than applying commercial water-soluble nitrogen. Results are readily seen when commercial fertilizer is applied.

The second number on the fertilizer bag states the percentage of phosphorous. This nutrient is necessary to produce healthy fruits, flowers, and seeds. Phosphorous can be stored by the plant until needed.

The third number tells how much potash is supplied by the fertilizer. Potash is necessary for plant health and vigor. This nutrient is also stored by the plant until needed.

The percentages of these three nutrients will not add up to 100, as you may think. The reason is that there are natural gases present in the material, and other components are used as carriers so the nutrient may be distributed properly to the plants.

A formula of 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 gives good results for the average home gardener. A local nursery or fertilizer dealer can advise you further on specific needs in your areas. Lawn and garden product dealers are supplied with fertilizers for the area they serve by reputable firms that specialize in plant food and base their products on research for the various soil-type areas of the country. It is best to rely on well-known name brands.

No matter what type of soil you have, something will grow in it if it is properly fertilized. Acid soils can be made alkaline, and vice versa. The gardener simply has to decide if it is worth the cost of changing the chemistry of the soil to produce the type of plants he has in mind.

A plant doesn't care where the nutrients come from as long as they are there.

Water gardening has become popular because no soil is needed and the plants can be nourished by supplying commercial plant foods.

Huge plants in cumbersome tubs are often planted in vermiculite or moss or a mixture of soil and a growing medium. The nutrients are given the plant by using water-soluble fertilizers.

Indeed, research scientists at O. M. Scott & Sons have grown a thriving turf on a paved yard in Marysville, Ohio, called the grass capital of the world. This was accomplished by laying a carpet of sod on the concrete. The sod was a fed a turf-building commercial fertilizer five times a year. It was only a demonstration, but it has survived the years beautifully.

Water and nutrients are necessary for any plant growth. Whether it is in your garden, on your lawn, in window boxes, or indoor pots, these can be supplied without soil or regardless of the type of soil.

Plant food is especially vital to small plants and seedlings. The right fertilizer can help your cuttings and seedlings off to a quick start. It will increase the number of flowers and fruits.

Slow-release plant foods make feeding indoor or outdoor plants more predictable, since the fertilizer is released as needed instead of overfeeding and later starving the plant. the constant source of nutrients is especially important for plants in growing mediums instead of potting soil.

Occasionally flushing off the salts that accumulate in houseplants is necessary when commercial nutrients are used heavily. Water the plant repeatedly, washing away any white deposit that appears on the rim of the pot.Carefully pour off the excess water and allow the pot to drain before putting it back in the hanger or saucer.

Special fertilizers for roses and shrubs and trees assure you of good color and sturdy growth that will withstand adverse weather conditions. These include as many as nine trace minerals in addition to the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

When you select a plant food, read the label carefully, watching for insoluble nutrients. If the nutrients are water insoluble they cannot be used by the plant.

There is perhaps no other product that requires trust in the producer more than plant food and commercial fertilizers. The effect of the addition of plant food is not always immediately evident. Careless use or overuse can result in damage to plants. The producer must give detailed directions for the product.

Some plants grow better than others in certain places. A walk through your neighborhood will give you a key as to what plants do well naturally in your area. Your county extension agent will help you select good plants for your location. Take along a soil sample if you want it analyzed.

If you are potting houseplants, select the potting soil according to the type of plant you have. Then select a plant food in a convenient form from a reputable producer.

Commercial fertilizer is most effective in vegetable gardens if applied when the soil is prepared for planting.

Lawn fertilizers require even spreading. A good lawn spreader is a must for good results in feeding lawns.

The application of plant nutrients is sure to increase your gardening pleasure.

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