Do I need to fertilize?

ron2230(7B)April 29, 2012

I have a small 8'x8' plot. It seems to be doing OK. I feed once a week with Miracle-Grow liquid-feed. PH is 6.5 to 7. Do I need to fertilize as well? Tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant and onions. New at this so any advice is appreciated. Ron

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You are already fertilizing it once a week with the Miracle Grow so could you clarify what your question is please?

Dave

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 5:31PM
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ron2230(7B)

Sorry, didn't know feeding and fertilizing was the same. I thought fertilizing was for soil and feeding was for plants.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 6:50PM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

Yep, although there are many products you can use, feeding and fertilizing mean the same thing. Without knowing any other details, I would say once a week Miracle Grow is probably plenty for fertilizer.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 8:46PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The ultimate goal is to get develop healthy, nutrient-rich soil in the garden to the point where the soil can feed your plants and you won't need the quick-fix stuff like the Miracle Grow (which has negative aspects of its own). MG is just a band-aid that covers the cut but doesn't heal it. But soil-applied fertilizers is only part of that process.

The pH of the soil, its composition, how well it drains and/or retains water and nutrients are just a few of the points to consider. If those elements are out of whack then it makes little difference what fertilizers or how much of them you add, the plants can't use them.

So a simple answer to your question would be yes, even if you are fertilizing the plants with the Miracle Grow your soil still needs to be evaluated and amended so that in time you can reduce or even eliminate all the MG use.

Hope this helps.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:45PM
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ron2230(7B)

Forgive my ignorance, obviously this is my first attempt at gardening. Should I be checking something else besides Ph?

Starting off I tilled in about 4 large wheel barrel loads of soil that came from beside my shed, (years of dead leaves)and 8 bags of MG garden soil. 8'X 8' plot. Thanks for the advice! Ron

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:30AM
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clayfarmer(Zone 5 Illinois)

Ron, what you're doing will work - this is basically what traditional agriculture does. But over time you'll destroy your soil which means you'll need to fertilize more and more to get plants to grow in your dead soil.

But if you'll work on improving the soil over the next year or two by adding 1" of compost every few months and keeping the soil covered at all times with a good mulch, you'll find that you don't need the miracle grow, or at least not nearly as much of it. Healthy soil = lots of worms. Lots of worms = lots of worm poop. Lots of worm poop = free fertilizer!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Edymnion(7a)

Yeah, sounds like you're doing pretty much the right thing, enough that you could probably cut back on the liquid MG. Just every year when you recondition the plot add more compost and garden soil and keep mixing it in and every year your plot will just get better and better.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:17AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Forgive my ignorance, obviously this is my first attempt at gardening. Should I be checking something else besides Ph?

The standard soil test (contact your local country ag extension office - every country has one and the tests usually run about $10-12) tests for pH, the 3 macro-nutrients which are nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, the level of organic matter in the soil, and the so-called micro-nutrients such as zinc, copper, boron, etc. all of which are needed by plants.

The pH is the most important and native oil such as you used has a wide range of pH. Your local county ag can tell you what the average pH of the native soil in your area is.

For example mine here with all the limestone we have has a normal pH of 8.5 which is way to alkaline for good crops and I have to constantly add supplements to bring the pH down into the proper range. Some folks up north have just the opposite problem as their native soil is too acidic.

Adding lots of compost on a regular basis is one of the easiest ways to keep the pH in line while also improving the drainage and tillth of the soil at the same time. It will also help over-come all the salt that using MG dumps into your soil

Dave

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:23AM
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oliveoyl3

Your soil mixture sounds good for a 1st year garden, but you'll still need some feeding/fertilizing like you're doing.

Even easier than the MG watering is to side dress with complete organic fertilizer (COF) & let the plants get it from the soil. Directions are on the box or bag. Be sure to get organic & you won't burn the plants or bring harmful additives. Not all are organic on this forum, but many are. There are + and - either way. I save lots of $ not buying this & that sprays or chemicals. Mostly free or almost free except for the COF & lime my soil needs yearly.

Then add compost as mulch for keeping in moisture & providing some nutrients. There are other posts for what to use as mulch. Anything that doesn't have weed seeds, chemicals, & decomposes works. Shredded leaves, straw, dried grass clippings, etc.

If you use the COF stop using MG & just use it on container flowers & baskets. Don't do too much for tomatoes or you'll just have leaves & not fruit.

After the season add compost, mulch layers, or manures & let sit over winter. Your garden beds will be nice & fluffy in the spring. Turn it over into soil or not & plant right in it. In recent years I've mixed in the organic fertilizer & turned in the mulch at the same time in early spring. I add more mulch as the crops grow & soil warms in spring (tulips falling petals is my signal to mulch crops). I think the heavy feeders do better with the fertilizer since I have heavy rains for 9 months of the year that washes away the manure nutrients. Though for many years I didn't buy any fertilizer and my crops were slower growing.

You are off to a great start ~ enjoy your gardening adventure!

Corrine

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 1:28PM
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ron2230(7B)

Thanks for everyone's help. I think I'm starting to get the ideal. I think I could've done more in the beginning.Going to side dress with COF and add some mulch and see what happens. I'll have a better start next year!
Great forum....lots of info. Ron

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:23PM
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