How to choose the right fertilizer for your plants.

Fertilizer or plant food is used to enhance plant growth. Many gardeners use fertilizers to enhance plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium available to plants through the soil. Fertilizer is primarily sold in liquid or granular form. Fertilizer supplements the elements naturally existing in the soil to grow healthier and more fruitful plants.  Fertilizers also help to avoid disease and insect problems that could be plaguing your garden.  Fertilizer is like a multivitamin for healthy plants, flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables.

Unfortunately most soil does not provide the essential nutrients needed for ideal plant growth.  If you have been gardening in the same location for some time prior crops have already absorbed the naturally existing nutrients in the soil leaving it less fertile. Fertilizer can be used to replenish lost nutrients and ensure that this year’s garden has all the nourishment it needs to produce a healthy crop.

Nutrients

In most fertilizers there are three primary ingredients. It is important to choose the right ratio of these ingredients for the plants you are feeding nutrients to. Fertilizers will note on the label a 3 way ratio, for example 2-3-1. The first number represents the ratio of Nitrogen (N), the second the ratio of Phosphate (P) and the third the ratio of Potassium (K). This label is known as the fertilizer grade which is a national standard. By law the N-P-K ratio for organic fertilizers is typically lower than a synthetic fertilizer as the ratio can only consider the nutrients immediately available, not those released over time.

  1. Nitrogen increases the plant’s capacity to grow new stems, flowers or fruit. When nitrogen is at optimum levels plants will grow larger and faster. Finding the right level of nitrogen in your soil is important as too much nitrogen may actually stunt the plant’s growth because it is absorbing too much nitrogen and not enough of other nutrients.

  2. Phosphorus helps plants to form strong roots and supports in the process of photosynthesis, the conversion of solar energy to chemical energy. The right phosphorus levels improve the plants vitality and seed size. To absorb phosphorus a pH level of 6.5 to 6.8 is necessary for most types of plants.

  3. Potassium builds plant protein. This is important in fighting diseases and making plants disease resistant. Potassium also aids in the photosynthesis process, helping to regulate metabolic activities. As with the other nutrients, potassium used in soil at incorrect levels can cause damage to the plant.

Organic vs. Synthetic

In addition to choosing the right ratio of the three primary ingredients in your fertilizer it is also important to choose and organic fertilizer vs. a synthetic product. Consider the following benefits to an organic fertilizer:

  • Organic fertilizers are made from naturally occurring organic material vs. synthetic fertilizers which are made by chemically processing raw materials.

  • Because the nutrients in organic fertilizers are not water soluble in organic fertilizers they release nutrients to plants slowly over time. Synthetic fertilizers are water soluble and are absorbed by the plant immediately which can damage the plant.

  • Organic fertilizers stimulate the good microorganisms in the soil and improve the soil structure. While synthetic fertilizers may provide and immediate boost, they do not improve the soils fertility on a long term basis.

Liquid or Granular

What about the type of fertilizer?

Granular fertilizer nourishes the soil improving the quality for all plants drawing their nutrients from that soil. Granular soil also helps to improve the way the soil works by aerating the soil allowing it to retain water better and air to flow freely to the roots.

Liquid fertilizer can be sprayed on the foliage with remarkable results for the plant. Plants can absorb nutrients 8 to 20 times more efficiently through the leaf surface over the roots. While fertilizing the roots and the foliage are both important, the liquid fertilizer produces better results if sprayed on the leaves at times in the plant’s life cycle of transplanting, blooming and just after the fruit sets. Foliar feeding or spraying fertilizer on the leaves is best done in the early morning or evening.

Recommended Fertilizer Products

Neptune’s Harvest is an award winning producer of all organic fertilizers utilizing fish hydrolysate. The below excerpt from Neptune’s Harvest website describes their process:

Fish hydrolysate is an all organic, highly nutritional protein fertilizer, made utilizing naturally occurring enzymes present in fresh North Atlantic fish. We produce this using a cold process employing enzymes (natural biological catalysts) which break down fish, or fish frames (the part left after the fillet is removed for human consumption) to simpler protein complexes. This process is called Hydrolysis.

No synthetic materials are mixed into the fish hydrolysate, and the only manipulation the product undergoes is grinding and hydrolysis. This process yields a stable, non-odorous, liquid fertilizer that is an easy to use, safe product. The nitrogen in Neptune's Harvest fish fertilizer is derived from fish protein in the form of amino acids which when added to the soil, slowly break down into basic nitrogen compounds. While a percentage of nitrogen becomes soluble due to the nature of the manufacturing process, no inorganic nitrogen has been added.

Neptune's Harvest hydrolyzed fish does no biological damage to the soil and will promote the growth of beneficial bacteria making the soil less compact and better able to drain, yet hold moisture better for future plant use as it is needed. With our cold process, the vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and growth hormones are not damaged or destroyed. Because no oils or proteins are removed, the nutrients remain in the soil longer, and lower N-P-K rates can be used to meet or exceed the results obtained by chemicals with much higher rates. Some advantages to using hydrolyzed fish fertilizer are that it rebuilds soil, gives excellent plant growth with increased yields, and is made from a renewable aquatic resource. Our hydrolysate fertilizer is filtered through a 165 mesh screen as a first step, and then through a 150 micron screen before it is packaged. This ensures an ease of application with most irrigation sprayer systems that is second to none.” www.neptunesharvest.com

Product

Description

Seaweed Plant Food

0-0-1

Neptune’s Harvest Seaweed Plant Food is an organic storehouse of over 60 naturally occurring major and minor nutrients and amino acids.

·         Delivers micronutrients to promote growth

·         Enhance plants development, color and vigor

·         Increase plant hardiness and resistance to adverse environmental conditions, such as early frost, extreme heat and lack of moisture

·         Increases and accelerates germination,

·         Enhances the rapid development of a healthy root system

*Liquid - Apply to soil or foliage.

Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer

2-3-1

Neptune’s Harvest Fish/Seaweed Blend Fertilizer gives you the best of both products, combining the naturally occurring vitamins found in fish hydrolysate and the nutrients and amino acids in seaweed to make this optimal liquid fertilizer. (Combo of Green and Orange label products)

·         Soil fertilization and plant growth

·         Protects & enriches soil

·         Plants are stronger, healthier, and more plentiful.

·         Increased yield of fruits and vegetables.

·         Flowers and foliage will be stronger and more colorful

·         Blooms will be more plentiful, fragrant, and longer lasting

*Liquid - Apply to soil or foliage.

Fish Fertilizer

2-4-1

Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer is an organic fertilizer made from fresh North Atlantic fish.

·         Multipurpose soil fertilizer

·         No unpleasant odor

·         100% organic, so it won’t burn plants and roots, or pollute the environment

·         Feed vegetables, flowers, trees and shrubs 

*Liquid - Apply to soil or foliage.

Kelp Meal

Multi-Purpose Plant Food

1-0-2

Neptune’s Harvest Organic Kelp Meal is Ascophyllum Nodosum, which is widely recognized as one of the finest marine plants available for agriculture today. Kelp Meal is a natural and cost affective enhancement to any soil fertilization and conditioning program.

·         Suitable for all crops and applications, and can be mixed with most soil conditioners and fertilizers.

·         Can also be incorporated into potting soil, seed and transplant beds, as well as composting materials.

·         Helps soil to retain moisture

·         Enhances healthy root growth

·         Good for keeping lawns healthy and green, even through drought periods.

Crab Shell

Multi-Purpose Plant Food

2-3-0

Neptune’s Harvest Crab Shell is an excellent dry organic source of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Calcium (23%) and Magnesium (1.33%).

·         Multipurpose plant food

·         Helps with nematode and fungus problems

·         Mix thoroughly with the soil or apply directly as a top dressing

·         Good for growing in hostile environments

Turf Formula

2-0-2

Neptune’s Harvest fish hydrolysate is an organic, liquid fertilizer made utilizing naturally occurring enzymes present in fresh Turf North Atlantic fish. It contains macro and micronutrients, vitamins, amino acids, omega oils and more. Promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria making the soil less compact.

Specifically designed for use on turf grass. Provides necessary nutrients for tolerating environmental conditions such as high temperature and drought. Offers improved vigor, color and root density.

www.NeptunesHarvest.com