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Your Plants Have to Eat: Fertilizing Your Garden

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I read the results of a national gardening survey recently and wasn’t surprised to learn that more than half of American gardeners don’t fertilize their plants. That’s a shame and a waste of time and plants. I can assure you those who do fertilize get far better results than those who don’t. For purposes of our discussion today, I assume you are growing on My Garden Post and using a good quality soilless container mix (refer to post All About Soil ). The germinating mix and container mix I use have no nutrients added and my plants depend on me for every meal they get. I fertilize to insure healthier plants, good growth, more fruit and vegetables and more vibrant flowers. Container plants without fertilizer experience just the opposite.

I’ve used Neptune’s Harvest and Fish Rich fish fertilizers, with good results from both. These water soluble organic fertilizers can be applied when you water to feed the roots, sprayed on the leaves or both. I added fish fertilizer to the water used to irrigate the seeds I sowed on November 2nd. As the roots developed, the fertilizer was available to them. Every Saturday I add a tablespoon of fish fertilizer to the water I irrigate with. The cucumber and tomatoes have already produced their first set of true leaves and they’re hungry. That’s my clue to begin foliar feeding. I plan to mist the plants with a fish fertilizer solution twice a week. The nutrients are immediately available to the plants when absorbed through the leaves. I tend to follow the manufacturer’s recommended rate and frequency of application.

In the paragraph above, I referred to “true leaves”. See below for an explanation of the difference between “cotyledons” and “true leaves."

“Bush Steak” Tomato Seedling on Day 15 ~ The two larger leaves with smooth edges are the cotyledons. They are the first leaves to appear in the germination process and feed off the food stored in the seeds. The small serrated leaves in the center are the first true leaves. They will depend on me for their meals.

Cucumber “Bush Champion” Day 15 ~ This compact cucumber seedling is off to a vigorous start with a pair of large healthy true leaves. The cotyledons will yellow and fall in the near future.

Thanks for following; your questions and comments are always welcome. See you next week. Oliver

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