Balcony and garden plants need several nutrients in order to grow healthily, and also to produce a good crop of fruit and blossoms. These nutrients can be added to the ground in the form of fertilisers. If you stick to some easy, basic rules regarding fertilising, you can hope for a good harvest. Moreover, your plants will become resistant to diseases and vermin.
Which fertiliser is the right one?
If you are looking for a suitable fertiliser, you have the choice between mineral and organic fertilisers. Talking about mineral fertilisers, you often come across the term NPK fertiliser. NPK signifies nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Nitrogen is needed by plants for growth. Phosphorus strengthens the roots and provides magnificent flowers, leaves, and fruits. Without potassium, the water supply of the plant is disturbed. Using such fertilisers, deficiencies of your plants can be avoided reliably and quickly. Long-term mineral fertilisers in contrast, submit the nutrients more slowly. Reason is that the nutrients are surrounded by a resin cover which decomposes gradually.
Organic fertilisers also have a long-term effect. The best known organic fertilisers are compost and horn shavings or meal. Compost, for example, is suitable as nutrition of many bushes and shrubs. Semi-mature compost is especially rich in nitrogen. It should only be applied to the soil surface as it can damage the roots of the plants if worked in too deeply. Mature compost contains only a few nutrients but improves the soil structure.
Additionally, special fertilizers for which the nutrient content is tailored to specific plant species, such as roses, are available.
When to fertilise?
Basically, you should only fertilise in the growing season which begins in February and ends in August. If fertilised longer, the plants can not adequately prepare for their period of rest. They will sprout out new, thin shoots which are sensitive to frost.
Lawn is ideally fertilised once in the spring, then in late summer and at the end of the growing season, in fall.
The fertilizer should be applied onto cut grass to make sure that it quickly comes in contact with the soil. After fertilizing, the lawn should be watered so that the fertiliser dissolves and can finally take its full effect.
How much fertilizer is needed?
The amount of fertilizer should be adapted on the one hand to the soil conditions and on the other hand to the needs of the plants. Information about the soil conditions can be obtained, for example, at the environmental department of the city or the district. Studies during the last decade have shown that vegetable gardens are often over-fertilised, whereas lawns are often undersupplied.
In general, you should never use too much fertiliser since a too high concentration of nutrients affects the roots of the plants. If there is an oversupply, the water-soluble nutrients get more and more washed into the deeper soil layers and eventually reach the groundwater. It is thus always better to fertilise less to make sure that the environment and also your wallet are spared.