Ferti Eefs

Now we're ready to discuss fertilizers — how much to add, when, and what type. When you go shopping, you'll see a bewildering array of formulas on the shelves. Most mixes are labeled "complete" or "balanced," meaning they contain a certain percentage of the three main ingredients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and small amounts of the important trace elements.

The percentages are designated by hyphenated numbers, such as 5-10-5 or 5-10-10. To complicate matters, they come in powdered, granular, and water-soluble forms. What to use?

I usually use about ten pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden area, or one pound per ten square feet. That's a little more than half a one-pound coffee can added to each four-by-four planting area. Mix it in well with the soil.

The formula you buy should be a very basic one, and the cheapest is usually a 5-10-5 or a 5-10-10 formula. The first number represents the nitrogen, and that's the most expensive ingredient. When you're beginning your basic soil preparation, you don't want to add too much nitrogen. It either disintegrates quickly in an inactive soil or is used up rapidly by developing plants. The other two ingredients,


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