How to Use Liquid Fertilizers

Nitrogen – the first number in the three numbers on any fertilizer – encourages more growth. Higher levels of nitrogen produced larger plants. This is great for leafy greens.

However, some plants initially did better without any fertilizer. Tomato plants that were not fertilized produced fruit earlier and in greater number. Not really surprising as unfertilized plants devote all their attention to reproduction – producing fruit and seed – instead of growing more leaves. However, by the end of the growing season, fertilized tomato plants out-performed the unfertilized ones.

Another surprising result was that higher doses of phosphorus – the second number in the three on any fertilizer – didn’t necessarily produce more fruits and flowers – although that is what phosphorus is supposed to do. The study concluded that plants can only use so much phosphorus and excess amounts just go to waste and may contribute to water pollution.

Salt buildup in the soil can be an issue with liquid fertilizers. Another reason not to overdo it. Don’t add fertilizer with every watering or if you do, cut the amount of fertilizer in half.

Bottom line? Using fertilizers provides better results than not using them. Don’t overdo it: read the label and perhaps use less than recommended. When in doubt, do a soil test so you know what your plants really need.

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Grow Great Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes on the West Coast is a challenge most years. But with our cool wet spring, gardeners need to use all the tricks to ensure we get to harvest tasty red tomatoes by the end of the summer. Here’s some great ideas from a former Dig This staff member, Jared Witt.

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Backyard Bounty

Backyard Bounty is a complete guide to year-round gardening on the West Coast.  This encyclopaedic reference is perfect if you find gardening challenging or time-consuming, but would like to enjoy fresh home-grown produce every month of the year. Author Linda Gilkeson is a passionate organic gardener with over 40 years of experience. She is a regular instructor […]

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How can I get my Amaryllis to re-bloom?

One of the most frequent questions we hear this time of year is: what do I do with my amaryllis bulb when it’s finished blooming and how can I get it to re-bloom next year?

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Grow Lights Improve Success When Starting Seeds Indoors

The most difficult thing about starting seeds indoors is getting enough light so they don’t grow tall and spindly before you can plant them out into the garden. Sun Blaster grow lights give you all the light your growing seedlings need.  They come in 2, 3 and 4 foot lengths and are super-easy to install […]

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It’s Important to Test Your Soil

Ever wonder why your vegetables don’t look like the pictures on the packages?  It could be your soil.  Over time, the nutrients in garden soil get depleted unless you amend the soil regularly.  A simple soil test will tell you what you need to do. A soil test kit will tell you the pH of […]

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Heat Mats Help Germination

Seed heat mats provide a gentle bottom heat to encourage germination.  Some seeds, like tomatoes and peppers, really like the bottom heat, and a seed heat mat really helps if you’re starting seeds in an unheated greenhouse.

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