Garden Fertilizer Tips with Horticulture Agents Cassie Homan and Pallace Messer


hey everyone my name is Cassie Homan
I’m the horticulture agent in the Post Rock District and I’m here with
Pallace today yeah my name is Pallace Messer I am the horticulture agent from
the Golden Prairie District so today we’re at the Beloit community gardens
and we’re going to be talking about fertilizing so it’s an awesome time to fertilize
it’s about June and some of our gardens are starting to come up and look really
good but a thing that has happened the spring is we’ve had a lot of rain so that
means that some of our nutrients have leached out of our soil so we need to
apply some fertilizer so Pallace tell us the difference of fertilizers we might
choose right so you can pick between organic or inorganic fertilizers and if
you pick organic that’s going to be something that’s naturally occurring such as like our manures or blood meal or different materials that
will break down into the soil and provide nutrients eventually even some
of our mulches like wood chips or things like that but then inorganic are things
that are man-made that are really condensed types of nutrients like our
nitrogen that we’re wanting and we have some products here that are inorganic to
show you today yeah so when we think about inorganic they’re probably more
common right that’s what we would think about applying to our garden to really
get a high level of nutrients so when you go to purchase a product of
fertilizer there’s going to be three different numbers listed on the bag in
in horticulture we like to think of that as NPK or nitrogen phosphorus and
potassium so when you’re looking at a bag like this specific product we have
nineteen four and two so nineteen parts nitrogen four parts
phosphorus and two parts potassium and some products also have some little
added things in it like this has some sulfur and iron but really if we are
looking to green things up and get things going you’re looking for the
nitrogen and Cassie is going to share a little bit more about what each of those
elements do okay so the three elements that Pallace was talking about are the
ones that plants need the most nitrogen phosphorus and potassium and why we need
a lot of nitrogen is because that provides really dark rich green color
for your plants and often nitrogen is lacking in our soils it doesn’t stick to
soils as well as some of the other nutrients so we have to apply that year
after year so it’s important to look for a fertilizer high in the first number
which is the nitrogen our next element is phosphorus and it helps with flowers
roots and leaf formation so it’s also really important but often our Kansas
soils have enough phosphorous but if you might have a deficiency your plant will
turn kind of a purpley color and just look kind of sick
so potassium is that last number and it helps our fruits to ripen during the
summer and if you have a deficiency in potassium it will often just cause
stunted growth in your plants so they just will look kind of sick and unhealthy
in order to get an accurate reading of fertilizer for your garden you should go
ahead and take a soil test K-State recommends taking a soil test
every three to five years and that’ll just give you a good reading of what’s
going on currently in your soils right because if you don’t know what’s
deficient in your soils you’re kind of only guessing when you’re applying
fertilizer so it’s a great way to kind of set up a program of how to fertilize
so often when we get soil test results back the only nutrient that is really
lacking in our soils is nitrogen that’s because phosphorus and potassium are
already in high quantities so when you’re purchasing a fertilizer look for
one that is very high in nitrogen so this brand has a really great high
nitrogen fertilizer that’s this first number so the 19 and you can see on the
package it is branded for lawn and trees but it also works great for your garden
so don’t let that scare you just make sure that when you’re purchasing a
product that it does not have any weed preventers if it is a lawn fertilizer
sometimes they’re sold as weed and feed and you do not want that for your garden
so this one does not it’s just the fertilizer it also has some sulfur and
iron in it which is great for our soils because often times our pH is a little
bit high and so the soil tests also recommend adding some sulfur so but
whatever you do just make sure you follow the recommended results from your soil
test on your soil test you’ll get lots of recommendations of what types of
fertilizer to apply what amounts just really make sure that you’re following
the instructions on that soil test as well as instructions on the product that
you purchase there’s several different types of fertilizers you can buy one of
them is slow-release which is what I’m holding
here and the advantage of that is you only have to apply it once in the season
because the product inside of these little pellets will just slowly release
over months that your garden is growing so another type of fertilizer is called
water-soluble and what you do is you mix either a tablespoon or however much you
need to fertilize into a gallon of water and then you water your plants with the
fertilizer so this product you have to use a little bit more frequently maybe
every other time you water so the last type of product that you would use would
be a type that you would broadcast around the garden and that’s usually what that
lawn fertilizer that we’re talking about is is something that you would broadcast
and that just gets mixed into the top couple inches of soil and you water it
in and these are usually what’s the highest in nitrogen so this is something
that we would really recommend if you’re looking for that high nitrogen content
so really all plants need is some sunlight water and fertilizers so
hopefully some of these tips make it less intimidating to understand the
nutrient part of gardening yeah don’t be scared to get out and garden this summer
there’s lots of local resources available at your community gardens or
at your local Extension Office

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