The field of study that covers plants is called botany, which you may have heard about; it’s a field that goes deep into the history and make up of plant life, and it’s fairly large. Botany is a respected scientific field.
The same cannot be said about actually growing plants, though – this is a very inexact science. In truth, the best comparison for growing plants is a low-level high-wire act; you have to straddle a fine line, keeping a healthy balance – otherwise, you are doomed to fail.
What kind of balance? A balance between supporting the plant and pushing it to grow, and overwhelming it altogether. Because if you’ve spent any time working with a garden, you know how pushy and/or temperamental plants can be. Too much water? Your drowned it. Too much sun? You vaporized it.
And if you include fertilizer? That’s a whole new set of problems.
- Why? What’s wrong with fertilizer?
Nothing is wrong with it – it can actually be very beneficial to your plants and/or lawn. But the key is knowing how much fertilizer to use, and when to use it.
The whole point of the top of this article is to explain how fickle plants truly are; because this is very relevant to fertilization. Fertilizer provides nutrients to the soil (“plant food”) through the use of nitrates, which are great; but pretty strong. Therefore, if you overdo it with the fertilizer or apply it too often, you’re going to overwhelm the plant with nitrates. Which is bad.
- What happens if I fertilize improperly?
You could “burn” the plants due to excess nitrates, which is going to harm them and actually stunt growth.
- Sounds pretty bad. How can I avoid that?
By knowing when to use fertilizer, and when to let it sit in the garage. In general, fertilizer should be used when the plants are moderately healthy – that way you know they can withstand the nitrates.
Whenever you place a new plant or some new sod, always mix some fertilizer into the dirt to provide a boost right away. After that, use fertilizer sparingly. We would recommend fertilizing before the growing season, again a few weeks into it, and at the end of the growing season as well. You can fertilize during the summer, but do so at your own risk: when the temperature is too high, it will put a lot of stress on your plants. They may not be able to handle the nitrates in that state.