QUESTION: When should I fertilize my garden? I’m afraid that I’m going to do it at the wrong time and ruin all my plants.
ANSWER: When you fertilize your garden will depend upon what you’re growing. For edible crops you should amend your soil prior to planting.
However, if you accidentally skip this step, you can still fertilize small plants. Be mindful to only use granular fertilizer to avoid burning the plants’ roots. If you use liquid fertilizer this could happen. Be sure to work in any fertilizer approximately a half foot beneath the soil.
When you need to fertilize your perennial garden, you’ll go about things a little differently. You still want to use granular fertilizer.
However, you should fertilize in the spring when the ground begins to soften and right about the time of the final frost.
This timeframe is important because once you fertilize your perennials, the plants will have a growth spurt. You don’t want the frost to kill what the plants produce.
By fertilizing at the same time as the final frost, the plants shouldn’t have a growth spurt until after the frost is over.
There are also a few general rules of thumb that might help you understand when to fertilize your garden. To begin, all plants need a boost of nutrients before they start to grow. This is what was discussed previously about amending soil prior to planting or before the growing season takes off for your perennial gardens.
From this point on, it will depend upon when your plants grow the most. For instance, crops such as lettuce, kale, and blueberries have a sudden growth spurt early in the season. This would be the ideal time to fertilize them.
Other plants need a month or more into the growing season before they receive more fertilizer. Corn and squash are examples of plants which grow during this timeframe.
Plants which produce multiple blooms or fruit, such as tomatoes, should be fertilized when they start to flower.
A major point to follow when fertilizing your garden is to ensure you only apply a balanced fertilizer. This should help you receive adequate blooms and not just lush foliage.
Hopefully, these tips will help you decide which categories your plants fall under and to understand the best time to apply fertilizer to your garden.