Figuring out your Fertilizers… Feature Diamond Sponsor – Culterra

“We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it is our garden that is nurturing us.” Jenny Uglow

 

These words are so true. Gardening is a relationship – a constant exchange of give and take - and like all relationships, it takes a little work to maintain. One of the most important things to provide for your plants each season is nutrients. Strategic use of fertilizers is a simple way to boost your garden and potted plants, and in turn be rewarded with lush greens, delicious edibles and a showier display of flowers each season.

There are so many different types and forms of fertilizer that it can be overwhelming when faced with all the options at your local garden centre. But taking the time to understand the products, their applications and your garden’s specific needs is a worthwhile process!

 

Organic versus Inorganic

 Inorganic Fertilizers are synthetic or artificial forms of plant nutrients and minerals. Simply put, they are man-made. Inorganics are usually faster acting than organics and include fertilizers such as Superphosphate and LAN (limestone ammonium nitrate.)

 Organic Fertilizers come from natural plant or animal sources and are slightly slower acting than inorganic fertilizers. They consist of large molecules that need to be broken down by soil organisms before their nutrients become available. Examples include Culterra’s Bone Meal, Organic Lawn Booster, Organic Seedling Food and Chicken Manure pellets.

Granular versus Liquid

Liquid fertilizers are your plants’ quick fix. They come either in a liquid-soluble powder or a liquid concentrate.Both require mixing with water before application to your plants using either a watering can or spray bottle. These nutrients last only one to two weeks, so you will need to apply it often. The major advantage, however, is that the nutrients are absorbed quickly and thus the positive results are almost instantaneous.

Use liquid fertilizer when your plants’ energy demands are at their highest. This is typically during flowering, fruiting and active growing. Liquid solutions are popular for pot plants and hanging baskets where nutrients are quickly leached out of the soil. Liquid fertilizers are also a great supplement to granular fertilizers as the slow and rapid release elements complement each other by providing a more continuous supply of nutrients.

Liquid fertilizer in the liquid concentrate form is usually organic. Culterra’s Multikelp is manufactured from natural kelp products and is a must for foliar feeding your fast-growing, leafy green vegetables. It’s also great for orchids and germinated seedlings as it is a soft fertilizer that does not burn. It promotes microbial activity and although organic, is still super-fast acting.

Granular Fertilizers consist of solid granules that are sprinkled around plants and then worked into the soil. For new gardens, dig them into your beds before you start planting. Because the granules need to break down this isn’t a fast-acting option, but with good watering and a few days’ patience you will start to see amazing results. Standard granular fertilizers are your most common form of fertilizer and may be applied every six weeks during the growing season.

Slow-release Granular Fertilizers (SRFs) are specifically designed to release nutrients gradually over a prolonged period of time. Culterra’s SRF is a urea formaldehyde product, which relies on microbes for decomposition and release. The microbial activity of soil is dependent on several environmental factors including soil temperature, moisture, pH and oxygen. Although slightly more expensive than standard granular fertilizers, the long duration of action of SRFs makes them more economical.

To conclude, remember that gardening is a relationship and every plant in your garden is an individual. Just as each of your relationships with friends, family and colleagues requires different amounts of time and energy, so do your green companions. So when next it’s time to boost your garden’s nutrients, take an extra minute to select the best fertilizer for the job!

To check out Culterra’s complete range of products visit their website http://culterra.co.za

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