The Q&A Archives: fertilizer

Question: I want to start a veggie garden in my yard (first time gardening)I live in NJ. I already have a bright spot for it. When do I fertilize? before, during, or after I plant?
Also, I want to put some pretty flowers on my porch which do you recommend? I have brought some bulds? but someone told me that they won't bloom until next year? Is that true?

Answer: Fertilizer is used to make up for any nutrient deficiencies in the soil. Ideally you would fertilize based on the results of soil tests to tell you what needs to be supplemented. Your county extension should be able to help you with running the soil tests and interpreting the results. The tests would also tell you if you need to add lime to the soil or not. (Lime is used to adjust the soil pH, to make it less acid.)

Usually, a vegetable garden benefits from working compost and other organic matter into the soil as well as from fertilizing. Try to add organic matter when you prepare the planting area. Also plan on using an organic mulch to help feed the soil over time when it breaks down.

Then as a rule of thumb you could use a general purpose granular or slow release fertilizer with an analysis of 10-10-10 or similar proportions. Read and follow the label directions for when to use it and how much to use.

There are many flowers that do well in containers. For a sunny spot you could use geraniums or petunias or marigolds for example. In a shady spot, impatiens and begonias are popular choices.

Spring blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils are usually planted in the fall and bloom the next spring; leave them in the ground and they should return and bloom the following year. If you have summer bulbs such as gladiolus or dahlias, these would be planted around your last frost date and should bloom for you this summer. These both need to be dug each fall and stored inside because they can't survive our cold winters.

I hope this helps!

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