Organic methods of soil enrichment
How do you fertilize the soil. Fertilizers supply the essential nutrients to the soil. Hence, they are vital to fertilize the soil. When the soil in your garden is not naturally rich, add fertilizer to improve the plant growth and yield. Nutrients are released from the fertilizers, depending on the microbial activity, temperature, moisture content, and pH of the soil. Hence take a soil test to determine the condition of your soil. All the fertilizers contain basic components – nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, and some minerals and micronutrients like zinc, copper, magnesium, sulfur, etc.
Types of Fertilizers to fertilize the soil
You can choose one or more fertilizer to fertilize the soil based on your requirement.
- Chemical: These synthetic fertilizers can give you the immediate result but will deteriorate the soil in the long run. They are available as granules or in a powdery form. Use it for some cool season vegetables like lettuce and radish for fast-release of nutrients and quick harvesting.
- Slow-release: These granular fertilizers release the nutrients slowly into the soil and provide long-term results. They have fewer chances of getting washed away by rain. It is ideal for raised bed gardens, container gardens, and flowering plants. E.g. Methylene Urea, Urea Formaldehyde
- Controlled-release: These inorganic fertilizers are concentrated and are highly effective in increasing the yield. Temperature and soil conditions do not affect their performance. Ideal for lawn and flowering plants and vegetable, fruit garden.
- Covered: These fertilizers are protected by an outer polymer, plastic or resin coat and nutrients are released gradually to the soil. Water and temperature affect the rate of nutrient release. Ideal for lawn, raised bed, inclined planes of the garden even during rain. E.g. Nutricote, Osmocote, etc.
Organic Matter in Soil
- Natural Organic: Commercially bought or prepared at home as compost or manure, organic fertilizers are an ideal choice. Though they release the nutrients slowly, they improve the soil quality steadily and are environmentally safe. Until these organic fertilizers break down, add slow release or controlled release fertilizers to the soil. Special organic fertilizers are available for lawn, container garden, roses, tomato, etc. For flower and fruit trees, add bone meal or soft-rock phosphate, blood meal or organic alfalfa meal, alfalfa pellets.
- Liquid: Chemical or naturally organic, liquid fertilizers immediately provide nutrients to the plant. Organic fertilizers include compost tea, seaweed, etc. There is regular use of liquid in container gardens. E.g. Nitrosol
There are several methods of applications of fertilizers in the garden. Following paragraphs discuss them below.
- Broadcast application – For lawns, or any large garden, before planting or sowing, spread dry fertilizer using tools like, hand rotary, etc. Till or water it into the soil.
- Deep Soil Application – Till the soil to a depth. Mix dry fertilizer or organic manure well with the soil using a rototiller or plow.
- Top dress application – Place granular fertilizer or organic matter around the base of the plants or as a strip in row planting. It is ideal for shrubs, perennials, vegetables.
- Base application – Apply Liquid or water-soluble fertilizer at the base of the plant and water it. The water absorbs nutrients hence, liquid fertilizers are more suitable for container and trees.
- Foliar Application – For reviving the plant immediately, apply diluted liquid fertilizer directly on the leaves of the plant. Opt for this when the soil is too dry for transmitting nutrients or when the leaves are wilting. Ideally used for vegetable and fruit plants.
Fertilize your soil before planting or sowing the seeds, preferably with organic matter. This will give the soil ample amount of time to absorb the nutrients. You cannot change things once you finish planting, so plan ahead and nurture your soil. How do you fertilize the soil