Wake Up Your Soil: How to Fertilize and Refresh Your Garden to Plant Again

 

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Are you ready to replant your vegetables, flowers or herbs this season in your existing garden beds? Consider this: soil is like a bank account and nutrients are the currency. Remember all of those tomatoes you picked last season? They were chock-full of nutrients from the soil, converted into food by your plants (eureka!). To produce another gigantic bounty this go-around, it’s time to deposit into your soil’s bank account to replenish that nutrient-goodness, organically.

1. Top off your garden containers/beds with new organic potting soil or finished compost. Organic matter in soil like a sponge: excellent at retaining moisture and nutrients. These products (compost or potting soil) can be found at your local garden center, or try hitting up Amazon Prime for bags of soil (plus muscle that free shipping). 

If your container or garden bed is full to the brim with soil, take some out and freshen up the mixture with new material. (Don’t treat your soil like dirt!)

2. Mix organic granular fertilizer* or blood meal* into your potting soil before planting. Try a general soil-boosting mixture, or use organic blood meal (primarily nitrogen). In most cases, soil can benefit from an all-around boost, but doing a simple soil test isn’t a bad idea here. Check out your local Extension Agency for a professional soil test, or order an inexpensive one on Amazon. This will indicate whether your soil is deficient in a particular nutrient. 

Plants need a variety of nutrients from the soil to produce roots, leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Soil nutrient composition is like the staves of a whiskey barrel: the least-present element will be the limiting factor for optimal plant growth (analogous to the lowest stave on a whiskey barrel, responsible for the whole container spilling out). Nitrogen is the most widely used element for vegetables, so after a growing cycle it usually becomes the limiting factor. 

*Make sure to always read the label on the fertilizer container to know how much to apply!

3. Side-dress your seedlings with organic granular fertilizer after plants are 6-8" tall. If you forgot to fertilize your soil before planting, this is a great way to boost nutrients in the soil. Granular or dry fertilizer needs to be watered-in to dissolve and be taken up by the plants' roots, so make sure to apply it around the base of the plant. Dry fertilizer is great to add to the soil after you harvest herbs, greens or fruit, especially if you intend on continuing to harvest from the same plants.

4. Use liquid organic fertilizer to side-dress (apply at the base of the plant) or spray leaves. Liquid organic fertilizer is a convenient option because it can be absorbed directly through the plant's leaves or roots

To apply your liquid fertilizer, first read the instructions. Even organic fertilizer is powerful and has to be diluted with water (picture gulping cold brew coffee-concentrate vs. diluting with water!). Fill a spray bottle with water part-way and pour fertilizer concentrate with the suggested ratio. Make sure to discard any remaining diluted mixture after each use to avoid a smelly spray bottle.

    Spray the diluted fertilizer directly onto your plants' leaves after harvesting from your Herbsheet. This is a great boost of nutrients to encourage regeneration of your garden for future healthy harvests. 

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GROW-ON with that healthy soil! 

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