The most important thing is to have healthy soil...full of organic material. If you enrich your soil with compost and other organics, you may not even need to add additional fertilizers. So, start with making great soil, and then add some organic fertilizers ... conservatively.
This garden benefits with addition of donkey doo-doo from the nearby zoo!
And, so you don't totally get lost in the fertilizer aisle at your local nursery, here's some basic data about the 18 nutrients that plants need:
- Three come from the air (oxygen, hydrogen and carbon)
- The other 15 come from the soil, taken in thru the roots...
- 9 are micronutrients (or, trace nutrients), needed in tiny amounts...boron, cobalt, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sodium and zinc. Look for "includes micronutrients" on label.
- 3 are secondary nutrients (or, minor nutrients)...calcium, magnesium and sulfur
- 3 are the big kahunas, the Macronutrients, the N-P-K on the fertilizer bag, which stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Nitrogen is needed for greening up the plant. Phosphorous helps make strong roots and is especially valuable at planting time. Potassium helps with general healthiness of the plant.
It's a good time to be going organic. There are more and more options available and it's the "Thing to Do". A healthy soil that's got lots of organic matter is where it starts. Organic fertilizers work slower than synthetic ones, but have less bad "side effects" on the soil and the plants. They also are better for our rivers because one way or another, that's where our garden water winds up!