Fertilizer – 101 – What a bunch of Bull Dung

fertlizer N-P-K Gardner’s seem to fall into 3 categories: (1. Fertilizer, never use the stuff. (2. Fertilizer, more is better. (3. Fertilizer, organic that’s the ticket.

Fertilizers are rated using the N-P-K or N-P-K-S(sulfur) rating system. N-P-K Mmmm that’s not helpful! Well it is once you understand how it relates to your chosen fertilizer type. Their are three(3) common fertilizer sources.
(1. Mined fertilizer. Bird and bat guano. Raw Phosphate Rock. Potassium magnesium sulfate and Potassium chloride.
(2. Manufactured synthetic fertilizers.
(3. Organic fertilizers. Animal manure, Fish blood and bone meal

N-P-K relates to a percentage factor by weight.
10-5-15 N-P-K really means that there is 10 percent nitrogen, 5 percent phosphate and 15 percent potassium(potash) in each pound of fertilizer.

Lets keep this really simple.
* N-(nitrogen) is used by your plants to produce foliage. N- is beneficial for plants that you will harvest the foliage for consumption. Things like Lettuce, Swiss chard and such.
* P-(phosphate) benefits fruit and seed producing plants like beans, squash, tomato’s etc.
* K-(potassium) in conjunction with phosphate, helps root crops like beets, carrots, potatoes, onions.

Mined and manufactured fertilizers. It is easy for manufacturers and mineral processors to control the N-P-K content of their products. You can be assured that the N-P-K rating marked on the bag is accurate.
Organic fertilizers, more often than not will not be labeled with a N-P-K rating. However a good rule of thumb is:
01-00-00 cow, steer, bull manure
01-00-01 horse, donkey manure
03-02-02 poultry manure
04-12-00 Bone meal

Whoa…. A little bit of fertilizer goes a long way. It’s better to under fertilize and then side dress with more fertilizer later in the growing season than to over do it at planting time.
You can always apply more fertilizer. But, once it’s in the soil you can’t remove it in the event you applied to much at planting time.
Read and follow the directions label on your fertilizer bag.

Before you apply fertilizer A soil test is best. However I know from experience ‘most’ gardeners will not take the time or pay the cost involved in soil testing.
With that in mind. Generally speaking most gardens will benefit from a pre-planting application of a balanced N-P-K fertilizer. Something like 5-5-5 or 10-10-10. If you are growing mostly fruit and seed producing plants consider something like 5-10-5 for your first fertilizer application.

Hint Your garden plants really don’t care where your fertilizer came from or how your fertilizer was manufactured. To your plants, N-P-K is N-P-K no matter what it’s source.

Not from the USA. Please leave me comment about your home town and country.

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Why is common sense so uncommon?
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4 responses to “Fertilizer – 101 – What a bunch of Bull Dung

  1. The cheapest fertilizer I know of is growing comfrey. Pick the a dozen leaves, leave it in a bucket of water for at least 30 days while it rots. This sludge will stink beyond belief, but dilute it 1 part to 10 in a watering can and you have a great fertilizer of about N 2 – P 3 – K 2.
    It is pretty balanced: you apply it every one-two weeks depending growth, and best of all it is hard to overfertilize as it has fairly low levels of each element. And of course, it’s basically free….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Useful and appreciated information. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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