HOW AND WHEN DO YOU FERTILIZE YOUR GARDEN PLANTS?
By Catherine Boeckmann (The Old Farmer's Almanac)
January 8, 2020
WHAT IS FERTILIZER?
Think of fertilizers as nutritional supplements. Plants need a variety of life-sustaining nutrients—such as nitrogen and phosphorus—which they take up from the soil. Many soils contain adequate nutrients for the plants to absorb, but some soils do not, which is where fertilizers come in.
Fertilizers are plant nutrients that are added to the soil. The plants absorb these essential nutrients from the soil to improve health, growth, and productivity. Soil nutrient deficiencies reduce and modify plant growth. You can also tell which nutrients your soil is lacking by the deficiency symptoms they display, which can range from yellow leaves (lack of nitrogen) to reduced flowering (lack of phosphorus) to weak stems (lack of potassium) to blossom-end rot (lack of calcium).
Not all soil needs fertilizer. Think about a natural setting where fallen leaves and plants decompose in place. Nutrients are naturally recycled into the soil and made available to growing plants. If your soil is rich in nutrients and the microbial life that aids in the plants’ uptake of these nutrients, then adding more can upset that healthy ecosystem. In fact, more fertilizer is not better! Plants use only the nutrients that they need. To absorb more than are unnecessary can result in abnormal growth.
However, many garden soils do need fertilizer, especially if the soil has been cultivated previously. If you’ve grown and harvested plants in your garden in the past, they have taken up nutrients from the soil, and those nutrients need to be replaced before more plants are grown there. This is where fertilizer (organic or processed) plays a role. Fertilizer replaces lost nutrients, which ensures that soil nutrient levels are at an acceptable level for healthy growth.
ALWAYS TAKE A SOIL TEST
The only way to truly determine the level of nutrients in your soil is to test it. Soil tests are available right here at Barnhart's Feed & Seed! A soil test is easy to do and the results guide your fertilizer applications. You may even find that if your garden has been fertilized for years, you have high levels of nutrients. You do not want to add nutrients to your soil if it’s already available in high amounts; this may inhibit your plants’ growth. Not sure how to get that soil test? Just collect about a cup of dirt from each of several locations in your garden and bring it to us in a gallon ziplock bag!
HOW TO READ FERTILIZER LABELS
Ever seen those confusing labels on fertilizer bags? The numbers can seem daunting at first, but once you know what they mean, they tell you exactly what you need to know about a fertilizer.
A fertilizer label on a package will have three numbers, such as 5-10-10. These numbers refer to the percentage of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K), the three nutrients that plants need the most. If you add up the numbers, they are the percentage of the bag’s total weight (the rest is simply filler to make it easy to handle). There may also be other nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese.
You can find these nutrients in many strengths; they can be processed or organic, and may come in liquid of granular formulations.
“Complete” fertilizers contain all three nutrients (example, 10-10-10). Sometimes, the nutrient ratios are important. For example, if you’ve ever experienced lush green growth without flower blooms, you may have too much nitrogen. You might choose a fertilizer label with 3-20-20 (low in nitrogen). Alternatively, vegetables planted in cold soil may need extra phosphorus for root growth; you might choose a fertilizer labeled 10-50-10.
(Read more in an article on fertilizer basics and the NPK ratio.)
PROCESSED VS. ORGANIC FERTILIZERS
In terms of cost: While organic fertilizers can be more expensive upfront than processed fertilizers, they are often still economical for small gardens. Plus, you don’t need to apply as often. When you add the long-term benefits to your soil, organic outweighs processed.
WHEN TO FERTILIZE YOUR GARDEN
If you are correcting a soil nutrient deficiency based on a soil test, it’s best to fertilize well before you plant so that you can work the fertilizer deep into the soil.
Otherwise, fertilize in the spring before planting annual flowers and vegetables and as growth begins for perennials. Many gardeners use a general-purpose fertilizer at this time (either an evenly balanced fertilizer or one that’s slightly higher in nitrogen). Incorporate fertilize into the soil several inches deep for annuals and vegetables. For perennials, work fertilizer lightly into the soil around the plants.
Plants need the most nutrients when they are growing most rapidly. This occurs earlier for spring plantings of lettuce and other greens. Rapid growth occurs midsummer for corn and squash. Tomatoes and potatoes also will need extra fertilizer (N) mid-season as the plants takes us nutrients.
For a long-season crop such as corn, many gardeners apply a small amount of fertilizer as a starter at the time of seeding, and then add a larger amount in early summer, just before the period of rapid growth. When using organic fertilizers for long-season crops, a single application is usually adequate because these fertilizers release their nutrients throughout the season.
For perennial plants, the timing depends on the plant’s growth cycle. Blueberries, for example, benefit when fertilizer is applied early in the season at bud break, while June-bearing strawberries benefit most when fertilized after harvest.
Ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials are often fertilized at the beginning of their growing season as dormancy breaks.
HOW TO APPLY GRANULAR FERTILIZERS
For the first fertilizer application of the season, apply granular fertilizers by broadcasting them either by hand or with a spreader over a large area. Or, side-dress the fertilizer alongside your rows or plants or seeds. All dry fertilizers should be worked or watered into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil with hoe or spade work after being applied to help the fertilizer leach down toward the plants’ root zones. If your plants are already growing, cultivate gently so that you do not damage any roots.
During the growing season, lighter supplemental applications can be made to the top inch of soil in crop rows and perennial beds and around the drip lines of trees or shrubs. (Read the label to find out how often applications should be made.)
In general, applying granular fertilizers just before a good rain can be beneficial, as it aids in working the fertilizer down into the soil where roots can access it.
HOW TO APPLY LIQUID FERTILIZERS
All water-soluble fertilizers are applied by dissolving the product in irrigation water and then applying it to the leaves of the plant and the soil around the plant.
Don’t apply liquid fertilizer at the exact same time that you plant. No matter how carefully you remove plants from their containers and place them in the ground, some root hairs will break. The fertilizer will reach the roots immediately and enter them at the broken points, “burning” them and causing further die-back.
Many gardeners wait 2 to 3 weeks after planting before fertilizing with liquid solutions; by then, the newly set-out plants should have recovered from any root damage.
It is important to water plants thoroughly with plain water before applying the liquid fertilizer to avoid burning the roots if the soil is dry. Also, take care that the fertilizer is indeed diluted based on instructions, or you could burn the leaves. If you have a watering system, you can use an injector device to run the fertilizer through the system.
In the case of liquid sprays, it is best to apply them on dry days in either the early morning or the early evening, when the leaves will have time to absorb the material. Avoid extremely hot days when foliage is subject to burning.
We hope you’ve learned a lot about fertilizers!
Original article from Farmer's Almanac: https://www.almanac.com/content/how-apply-fertilizers-your-garden?trk_msg=3ADPM2K8DBU4VED3P87DDMLQHG&trk_contact=C333R4VV2FTM5OOP5T9FKMTR24&trk_sid=G0K7BGV4M0OV8L79OA48RA97I8&utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=How+to+Apply+Fertilizers+to+Your+Garden+(read+more)&utm_campaign=Companion+Weekly&utm_content=WEEKLY
THE EASY CALCULATION OF DOG’S AGE
The easy way to calculate a dog’s age is to take 1 dog year and multiple it by 7 years. This is based on an assumption that dogs live to about 10 and humans live to about 70.
For example, a dog which is 5 years old is 35 “human years.” This isn’t a bad way to go from a health perspective because it helps us humans realize that our dogs aren’t the same as children.
As pets get older, they need extra care and attention. Small dogs are generally considered “senior” at seven years of age. Larger breeds are often senior when they are 5 to 6 years of age.
Be aware of arthritis and related discomfort or irritability, weight control, sight and hearing issues, and any changes in behavior or activity which could indicate more serious issues.
Visit your vet for exams regularly; adjustments can be made to give your pets a more comfortable, longer, healthier life.
THE MORE ACCURATE CALCULATION OF DOG YEARS
Statistics from pet-insurance companies, breed-club surveys, and veterinary hospitals have helped us learn more about how dogs age.
Dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each year in dog years.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
DOG AGE CALCULATOR: DOG YEARS TO HUMAN YEARS
If we think like a dog, here’s how a dog’s age compares to a human’s age! There are differences between a dog’s size (small, medium, large) and a dog’s breed, but this should give you a good sense of where your dog is in the development/aging process.
Original Article from Farmers Almanac: https://www.almanac.com/content/dog-age-chart-dog-years-human-years?trk_msg=S2J77V6IEER4P9MG24NQ6843M4&trk_contact=C333R4VV2FTM5OOP5T9FKMTR24&trk_sid=Q96L2EQF8TMQ6IS46B83J4VO2O&utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=Dog+Age+Chart%3a+Dog+Years+to+Human+Years+(read+more)&utm_campaign=Companion+Weekly&utm_content=WEEKLY
Question: The autumn leaves seems to be hanging on longer than usual in my neck of the woods. Is this an indication of winter weather to come?
Answer: There’s an old weather proverb that states, “If autumn leaves are slow to fall, prepare for a cold winter.” Or perhaps you just haven’t had the kind of wind or rain needed to shake the leaves loose from their branches.
Question:What is a Hunter's Moon?
Answer: Most of our monthly full Moon names come from Native American and early American folklore, and were originally used to mark the progression of the seasons. Interestingly, the Full Hunter's Moon is one of only two full Moon names that is not tied to a specific month, instead, the Hunter's Moon relates directly to the Harvest Moon. The first full Moon to occur after the Harvest Moon (which is the closest full moon to the autumn equinox) takes on the mantle of “Hunter’s Moon,” which means that the Full Hunter’s Moon may occur in either October or November, depending on when the Harvest Moon is!
Some folks believe that this full Moon was called the Full Hunter’s Moon because it signaled the time to go hunting in preparation for winter. Since the harvesters had recently reaped the fields under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily see the fattened deer and other animals that had come out to glean (and the foxes and wolves that had come out to prey on them).
The earliest use of the term “Hunter’s Moon” cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1710. Some sources suggest that other names for the Hunter’s Moon are the Sanguine or Blood Moon, either associated with the blood from with hunting or the turning of the leaves in autumn. Some Native American tribes, who tied the full Moon names to the season’s activities, called the full Moon the “Travel Moon” and the “Dying Grass Moon.”
1. Start with the Best. Make sure you have the right light, space and soil for each plant. Then select plants with shiny, blemish-free leaves that you can easily lift out of the container. Come visit us in the greenhouse for some great plants!
2. Royal Soil. Before planting, test the soil and add necessary amendments. Bring your soil sample to us here at Barnhart's Feed & Seed and we can send it off, and help you read the results! If your soil is lacking, your plants will be too. For an extra oomph, add some compost to the planting hole. And if direct sowing seeds, mix in a seed starting potting soil, so seeds can take root easily.
3. Feed Now… and Later. When planting, mix in a starter plant food. Plants need food as soon as they are established! There are several great slow release fertilizers as well.
4. Stay Strong Seedlings. Before moving indoor seedlings outside, toughen them up. Otherwise, they may not make it. To help seeds adjust, begin hardening them off two weeks before transplanting. How-to instructions here.
5. Don’t Forget to Water. While still in their nursery containers, water your plants. Then water deeply after planting. Water reduces plants’ stress levels and helps them adjust to their happy, new abode.
Get ready, your flowers, veggies and plants are about to be bigger and healthier than ever! You grow, gardener!
Original article found here. Credit to Espoma.
RAISING CHICKENS 101: RAISING BABY CHICKS
Want to learn how to raise baby chicks? Here’s a beginner’s guide to bringing up baby!
You can purchase chickens at several stages of development—it all depends on how long you’re willing to wait for eggs.
Tending baby chicks isn’t difficult, nor need it be elaborate. As well as chick starter and clean water, they need a draft-free brooder pen with a red brooder lamp on at all times. This keeps the temperature at 92°F at 2 inches above the floor. (It also reduces picking and cannibalism among chicks.) When the chicks have feathered out, reduce the temperature by 5 degrees per week until they are 6 weeks old, then switch their feed from chick starter to grower mash.
Instead of buying chickens every year, you could hatch your own. Of course, you’ll need a rooster to get fertile eggs. Check your zoning regulations; some places allow hens, but not roosters. Hens will lay perfectly well without one. (The occasional blood-spotted egg isn’t caused by the rooster and is perfectly fine to eat.)
You’ll also need a broody hen. Broodiness—the instinct to sit on eggs until they hatch—has been bred out of a lot of chickens, but we always had one or two who would begin to sit tight on the nest and peck if we tried to remove their eggs. Bantams are famously broody, and a bantam hen will hatch other hens’ eggs.
You can hatch replacement chicks yourself with a home incubator. Eggs take 21 days to hatch. (Did you know that there are best times for setting eggs under a hen or in an incubator? You can find out more about setting chicken eggs by the Moon’s Sign here. An incubator must be watched; chicks left too long after hatching will die of dehydration or picking. One particularly determined one in our incubator picked its way through the screen guard around the ventilation fan and was decapitated. On the whole, we found it best to leave it to the hen.
TIPS FOR A HAPPY CHICKEN COOP
See more of our beginner’s guide to raising chickens:
Original article from The Old Farmers Almanac, click here to visit: www.almanac.com/news/home-health/chickens/raising-chickens-101-raising-baby-chicks#
Ready to order your own chickies? Just call us to check availibility!
Getting the urge to start some things indoors?
We've been having beautiful weather and I've sure been feeling spring fever! Here's
some great ways to start herbs. (Original article credit: Good Housekeeping)
As a general rule of (green) thumb, place your herbs in a spot that gets at least six hours of sun daily. To test the strength of sun, turn off all lights on a sunny or partly sunny day, and periodically check to see how natural sunlight there is. In addition to sunlight, all herbs need to be planted in pots with good drainage. If you're concerned that the drainage holes will ruin your tabletop or windowsill, use a saucer or liner to catch any excess water. For specifics on watering and sun exposure, follow this guide.
Start basil from seeds and place the pots in a south-facing window; it likes lots of sun and warmth.
It's a perennial that does best using the container gardening method. Place the pot in an east- or west-facing window, but be sure it does not get crowded. Bay needs air circulation to remain healthy.
Start chervil seeds in late summer. This herb, also called French parsley, grows well in low light but needs temperatures between 65 degrees and 70 degrees to thrive.
At the end of growing season, dig up a clump of chives from your garden and replant it in a pot. Leave the pot outside until the leaves die back. In early winter, move the pot to your coolest indoor spot (like your basement) for a few days. Then place it in your brightest window.
Your best bet is to start with a tip that has been cut from an outdoor oregano plant. Once you've then planted that tip in a pot, place it in a south-facing window.
You can start parsley from seeds or dig up a clump from your garden at the end of the season. Parsley likes full sun, but will grow slowly in an east- or west-facing window.
Start with a cutting of rosemary and keep it in a moist soilless mix until it roots. It grows best in a south-facing window. Expect your kitchen to smell fresh throughout the cooler seasons thanks to the pungent scent of this herb — it acts like a natural air freshener!
Take a tip that was cut from an outdoor plant to start an indoor sage plant. It tolerates dry, indoor air well, but it needs the strong sun from a south-facing window.
A dormant period in late fall or early winter is essential for tarragon to grow indoors. Pot a mature plant from your outdoor garden and leave it outside until the leaves die back. Bring it to your coolest indoor spot for a few days, then place it in a south-facing window for as much sun as possible. Feed well with a liquid fertilizer.
You can start thyme indoors by either rooting a soft tip that was cut from an outdoor plant or digging up and repotting the entire thing. Thyme likes full sun but will grow in an east- or west-facing window.