The Q&A Archives: Fertilizer Recommendations

Question: What type of fertilizer should I put in my garden to prepare it? I like to grow tomatoes, strawberries, and spinach.

Answer: Good garden preparation always involves working lots of organic matter into the soil. Use things such as compost, leaf mould, mushroom compost, or composted cow manure...and lots of it! Organic matter gently nourishes your plantings and helps to improve soil composition. Tomatoes are heavy feeders. The organic matter you work into the soil will be fine for the first few weeks but after that you will need to start "side dressing" your tomatoes. Starting when the first fruits have begun to form, side dress the plants with a fertilizer such as a 5-10-10. You may side dress again approximately 2 wks. after that if you like. Be sure to follow fertilizer application guidelines very carefully. Spinach also likes a lot of organic matter so it will benefit from the soil preparation you did prior to planting. You can fertilize spinach with a 10-10-10 (going a little higher this time on the level of nitrogen, the first number in the series). Nitrogen is especially important to spinach. Spinach isshallow rooted so all you need to do is gently "scratch" a bit of fertilizer into the top of the soil if it is in granular form. Once again, be careful to follow application rates given by the manufacturer. Can't say it enough, the strawberries will also love the organic matter you added in the beginning. When the weather gets consistently warm and the plants start actively growing, apply a top dressing of 10-10-10 fertilizer (you guessed it, carefully follow application rates). All of the plants you mentioned would also appreciate a top dressing of the organic matter listed above throughout the season. Keep an eye on watering too, it is especially important with tomatoes and strawberries to provide consistent water through the season (especially when fruits are forming).

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