Which is The Best Fertilizer for Garden Plants? Artificial or Organic, Which One to Choose?
Building your garden might seem like a one-time investment but to keep it in a flourishingly state is another story. You have to supply them with all the suitable care they require. And you can’t afford to overlook even the tiniest of details while doing so. Just like providing the right nourishment to your child is important for his growth and you can’t just provide them with food and skip the water. Similarly, you can’t choose to give selected care requirements to your plants.
From planting in the perfectly moist soil to the required amount of sunlight, everything is important. But one thing that we usually look past is the usage of good fertilizers. Once your plant starts growing, it absorbs all the necessary nutrients from the soil and eventually leaves it unproductive. To overcome that void, we need to fertilize the soil with suitable compost or fertilizer. Before purchasing fertilizer, it is strongly advised that you take a soil sample or perform a soil test to determine what your soil is capable of. As much as nutrients are important for plant growth, the surplus is not good for them either.
So now you know the importance of fertilizer usage but you still don’t have any clue as to what you should look for while buying one. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
- Types of Fertilizers
- Factors on Which Fertilizers Can be Judged
- All-Time Best Fertilizers
Types of Fertilizers
There are two types of fertilizers:
- Organic: This type of fertilizer includes naturally occurring materials like cotton seeds, animal discharge, etc.
- Artificial: These fertilizers are manmade and usually have a higher nutrient content in them
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Factors on Which Fertilizers Can be Judged
Now let’s discuss the factors on which the fertilizers are normally judged.
● Ease of Usage
We have to use fertilizers for the better growth of our plants but when it’s time to buy one, the first thing that we should look for is ease of usage. By that, we mean the fertilizer should be easy to handle whilst the application. If you need to mix it with some other nutrient, they should have a good blending capability and should fuse with the crop once applied.
The fertilizers come in different forms. There are liquid fertilizers and granular ones as well. Then there is this slow-release formula as well. The liquid fertilizers are much easier to use and get absorbed in the soil efficiently. However, they are generally expensive and more susceptible to evaporation. The packaging should have very clear instructions to make the use easier.
Storage is a very important factor to keep in mind while buying fertilizers. It should not change its formulation if stored for a longer period. For that, granular fertilizers are the best as they do not salt out in cooler temperatures. The packaging of fertilizers should be sturdy and made of a material that prevents moisture from getting in and the loss of nutrients over time. The slow-release formulas cannot be stored for more than 5 to 6 months.
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● Nutrient Content
The three numbers marked on the bag tell us the amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus the fertilizer carries. This is known as the NPK ratio. Nutrient content check is of utmost importance while selecting a particular fertilizer. We suggest doing a sample test of your soil to know what your soil is lacking. For example, to grow vegetables, you need calcium-rich fertilizer but for perennials, you need a milder one with lesser to zero quantities of phosphorus, a product labeled as 20-0-10.
● Rate of Nutrient Release
The rate of nutrient release is a key factor to keep in mind while getting fertilizer. There are fertilizers available in the market that are known as controlled-release fertilizers or CRFs. This granulated fertilizer has a coating (normally of wax or polymer) applied to it. This helps in controlling the release into the soil. By doing so, the plant gets the nutrition as and when required, thus resulting in optimal plant growth and saving on costs. We recommend carefully reading the label to ensure that the release rates are appropriate for your plant.
Obviously, you need to compare prices when doing fertilizer shopping. Choose the ones that fit your needs and are less costly. Liquid fertilizers are more efficient as compared to granular ones but they will definitely cost you more. So work it out, your total area and the amount of usage and how much it will cost you.
Some fertilizers are very toxic in nature and are cumbersome to use when pets and kids are around. However, once they get absorbed in the soil the toxins decrease considerably. Also, reading the labels is very important to know if the amount you are using is safe for the plant or not as excess might cause a root, stem, or leaf to burn.
● Impact on Soil
You need to know the effect a particular fertilizer will have on your soil. It might cause the soil to become more acidic or crusty. Or it might be the cause of various gas releases in a greenhouse. The water-soluble fertilizer may escape the soil and pollute the rivers and lakes nearby. A good fertilizer should preserve the productivity of plants and at the same time conserve nature.
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All-Time Best Fertilizers
To help you get started, we have compiled a list of the all-time best fertilizers on the basis of their usage. These fertilizers are generally for growing garden plants (vegetables, trees, and flowers).
1. Jobe’s Organics All-Purpose Fertilizer
This is a granular all-purpose fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 4-4-4. It has a very gentle formula that does not have a burning effect on the roots. This fertilizer is safe to use around pets and contains organic matter for soil enrichment. This has a basic blend of nutrients that are good to meet the general needs of all garden plants.
2. Jobe’s Organics Annuals and Perennials
This is also a granular fertilizer but with a slow-release formula with an NPK ratio of 3-5-4. This can last up to three months. The only hitch: the product must be kept dry to avoid forming clumps. The usage directions are clear and precise on the package, making it easier to use for people who are new to it. The formula is for perennials and annuals and can be used for fruit-bearing plants as well.
3. Espoma’s Organic Bio Tone Starter
An ultimate starter’s fertilizer that has an NPK ratio of 4-3-3, Espoma BTS contains organic matter. It has a slow release and non-burning granular formula. This fertilizer can be used all year round for any plant. It contains a strong organic odor when applied initially.
4. Dr. Earth’s Homegrown Tomato, Vegetable and Herb
Dr. Earth’s formula for homegrown vegetables is granular and quick release with an NPK ratio of 4-6-3. It is completely organic and should be reapplied after every two weeks. This fertilizer particularly contains calcium for tomatoes. It has this particular odor that we find is quite repulsive.
A beautiful garden is made up of healthy plants. And to keep them that way, you just have to provide them with all the ample care including nutrients aka fertilizers. These are just like supplements that a healthy human body needs to grow.