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Before adding commercial fertilizer, soil test should be done to see what needs to be added back with the fertilizer. Most counties have an extension office that can do a soil test for just a few dollars.

The goal of every gardener should be to have an organic garden. Commercial fertilizer should only be used during the development of an organic garden, or when there is not enough organic fertilizer to go around. Commercial fertilizer is also a quick and easy way to kick start the gardening experience.

But upon a trip to the store, there will usually be lots of different types of fertilizer, so which type do you need? The type of fertilizer depends on the type of plant that is being grown.

Most fertilizers use a number system, such as 13-13-13. The number are a measure of the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphoric acid and Potassium. some people refer to 13-13-13 as standing for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Pot ash.

Lets break down these numbers so we can understand what they do.

The first number:

Nitrogen - Large leaf development. The higher this number is, the bigger the leaves and stalks will get. This is good for greens, spinach, anything with a large leaf, stalk or vine.

Over usage - can result in nitrogen burn, or very large plants that do not produce. The tomato plant might be 6 feet tall and not produce a single tomato.


The Second Number:


Phosphoric acid / Phosphorus - This is for Tubor or root development. This type of fertilizer is good for potatoes, turnips or anything with an underground root.

Over usage - Can make the soil too acidic. After all, its name is Phosphoric Acid. Too much of this fertilizer can kill certain plants.


Last number:

Potassium / Pot Ash - This is for pod development. Plants such as peas like this fertilizer.

Over usage - I really do not know the answer to this, so its being left blank. Maybe someone else can post some information on over usage of Potassium / Pot Ash.


Examples:

1. Tomatoes will bear a pod / tomato and has a tall stalk. So for this type of plant we use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 13-13-13.

2. Potato plants have a large under ground root. So for this plant we would use something like a 10-20-10.

3. Greens with no root - 16-6-12 or 21-0-0. The higher nitrogen content will promote large green leaves. While the 16-6-12 will provide other nutrients. If you are using organic fertilizer, a little 21-0-0 will help kick start the plant. The organic fertilizer will help provide vitamins and minerals.

4. Peas require a larger 3rd number, so maybe something like a 0-10-20, or a balanced fertilizer such as 13-13-13. Fertilizer such as 21-0-0 or 16-6-12 should not be used on peas.


Before planting anything, take the time to read what kinds of nutrients the plant needs. Use organic slow release fertilizer when ever possible.
 

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Excellent post

Excellent post and I had a question re: potatoes. How long before I see something? I planted mine about 2 weeks ago and nothing so far. Thanks in advance
 

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Try Manure

For several years I used commercial fertilizers but found them to be harsh on young tender plants. I also found they drive away natures best friend "Earthworms". My fertilizer now comes from an all natural source. I compost chicken manure, (my birds) and horse manure (neighbor's give me the stuff) in with leaves and other greens for a year then add it to my garden. I also feed my plants rabbit manure this manure is so gentle you can use it fresh without the need of composting. I do a soil sample every year and do rotate crops as needed.
 

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Thanks Kev for the wonderful post. Is there a post on the forum that might explain how to make or use organic fertilizers? Composting...etc?

Thanks in advance from a newbie! (I'm still stumbling around trying to learn my way through the site! It's HUGE! )
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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I hope to start a couple of raised beds sometime soon (might have to way until next year :( ) and really didnt have much experience in using fertilizer.

This is an awesome breakdown and you really did a great job of explaining things so clearly and simply (just like the WASR vid that got me to this site in the first place and a bunch of your other videos and posts)

Thanks for this post, past posts and vids and for the future posts. oh, and thanks for survivalistboards.com!

Kid_M
 

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Excellent post and I had a question re: potatoes. How long before I see something? I planted mine about 2 weeks ago and nothing so far. Thanks in advance
i planted some potatoes, i don't know how long it took, but it was less than 2 weeks before I saw the leaves. Although some are just starting almost a month since then, some have been struggling to grow a small amount, and others are growing wonderfully.
 
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