When it comes to fertilizing vegetable plants, flowers, containers or hanging baskets, a few simple secrets can create big success!
Of course, growing healthy, vibrant and great looking plants all starts with good soil. But even the best of soils can be depleted over the course of a full growing season. Whether growing vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, or flowers such as marigolds and petunias, all plants use nutrients in the soil to grow and flourish.
The more plants grow and mature, the more they begin to use up those nutrients. And that is where providing a little natural boost of nutrients can make all the difference. The key to success is knowing when, what, and how much to apply to create the perfect balance of available nutrients. The best part of fertilizing vegetable plants naturally is that they only serve to build the soil. Both in the short-term, and long-term.
Here are 5 fertilizing secrets to keep your garden and flowerbeds rocking all year-long.
The 5 Secrets To Fertilizing Vegetable Plants And Flowers
#1 Fertilizing The Planting Hole
The best time to start fertilizing vegetable plants and flowers is when they go in the ground! Boosting the soil in the planting hole with additional nutrients sets the stage for a plant’s success. As the transplants begin to grow, they have instant energy that can easily be absorbed by their roots.
We mix every single planting hole with a supply of natural nutrients to provide lasting power for the plant. A healthy dose of compost, mixed in with a few table spoons of worm castings and coffee grounds provide a virtual cornucopia of balanced power to plants. Product Links : Worm Castings – Bagged Compost
#2 Apply A Slow Release Fertilizing Mulch
Equally important to secret #1 is mulching with an additional power source. In the garden, flowerbeds, and even on top of hanging baskets and containers, we apply a layer of compost as a mulch around every single plant.
It serves a double purpose. As a true mulch, it helps to regulate soil temperatures and keep competing weeds at a minimum. But it also acts as a long-term, slow release fertilizer. Every single time it rains, or when the garden is watered, nutrients from the compost mulch on top are leached into the soil and the roots below.
#3 Let Your Plants Settle In
When a vegetable or flower transplant is planted, it goes through a small period of shock. It has gone from its little protective container into the great big outside world, and it needs a bit of time to adjust before getting too many powerful nutrients all at once.
One of the biggest mistakes many gardeners make is to apply powerful liquid fertilizers to plants immediately after they go into the ground. The best rule of thumb, allow 10 to 14 days for plants to recover from transplant shock before hitting them with any additional power sources. Give the plants time to adjust and begin to spread their roots into the slow-release fertilizers of compost and worm castings.
#3 Applying Liquid Fertilizers – Double Duty Success
Once plants have had a bit of time to settle in and recover from shock, you can give them a more instant boost to really power them up. Liquid fertilizers, in the form of compost tea, worm casting tea, and even manure tea can work wonders to boost plants.
These teas are made simply by steeping water in the substances over the course of a few days to create a powerful, all-purpose liquid fertilizer. It can be used to water plants, absorbing energy both through the foliage and root zones. Teas are a quick and effective boost of energy for plants, especially during their first few months of growth. It can keep your tomato plants growing, and your flowers and hanging baskets blooming!
As for how often to apply, a every two to three weeks for the first two months is our rule of thumb. For more on how to make your own, see our article : 4 Liquid Fertilizers That Work Like Magic
#4 Applying Additional Slow Release Fertilizers
After plants have been in place for a few months, we like to add in another 1/4 cup of worm castings to the soil around the top of plants. We simply spread back any mulch, scratch the castings into the soil, and then put the mulch back. It helps to give one final slow-release boost to plants over the rest of summer. This is especially effective for containers and baskets. And yes, we really can’t say enough about worm castings. They are simply the most amazing organic fertilizer we have ever uses. Period! Link : Worm Castings
#5 Avoid Over Feeding
When it comes to fertilizing vegetable plants and flowers, too much of a good thing can ultimately be a bad thing. Plants that are over-fertilized begin to spend the excess nutrients grow only bigger stems and foliage.
When it comes to vegetable plants, feeding every two to three weeks is more than enough. We also stop feeding in mid summer to let the plant put the proper energy into forming produce. As for flowers, especially containers and hanging baskets, we continue to feed every two to three weeks into fall. Plants in contained soil begin to deplete by mid to late summer of their natural nutrients. Keeping a steady feeding schedule for these plants keeps them blooming til seasons end.
Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up below for our free email list. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.