I feel that compost is the most important ingredient for a successful garden. In nature, plants drop their seeds, die, and rot. A new plant of a new generation grows the next year in the decaying remains of it’s parent. Using good gardening practices to avoid diseases and pests, we clean up the plant residue each year and eat the fruit of our harvest. Using compost is a natural way to put back into the soil each year all that we take out. Compost offers many benefits.
Before I say anything, I want to say be careful not to over-fertilize. Many of the fast-acting fertilizers can stunt, burn, or kill your plants. Even many organics that don’t burn will cause problems if they are used excessively. So, be very careful with them, especially around transplants. Be sure to mix the fertilizer into the soil well. Other fertilizers like compost and worm casting, you can use as much as you want.
The next most important thing is to get a complete soil test at least every 3 – 4 years. This will tell you if there is any deficiencies. Cooperative Extension is a good place to contact if you are looking for soil test. Most states have programs for their residents where they can have a complete test for under $20.00.
Slow to Act
Many slower-acting fertilizers like rock minerals take some time to work. It is usually best to use them in the fall so they will have a little time to work. Fall is also a good time to work on compost that is not quite finished and leaves that you rake up.
Each listing should have a page of it’s own. I hope to get to it soon, but for now this will have to do. Read the sections on Analysis, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. This will give you a brief understanding of what each does.
Remember don’t over-fertilize your plants. You can do them more harm than good. If you give pepper plants too much Nitrogen they will have beautiful foliage but produce little or no fruit.