Now that we’re starting to spend more time in our gardens, it would be good to review the difference between fertilizer and soil amendments!
Fertilizer improves plant growth directly by providing one or more necessary plant nutrients.
Soil amendments are a material that improves the chemical and/or physical condition of the soil. Organic amendments and fertilizers are directly derived from plant and animal sources. Inorganic amendments and fertilizers are not directly derived from plant and animal sources; however, many materials come from naturally occurring deposits.
If you work plenty of organic material, such as compost, well-rotted manure and chopped leaves into the soil, theoretically you won’t need to buy fertilizer. It is a fine balance, and not one I have achieved on a regular basis, but amendments are the basis for the best start you can give your plants. Healthy soil means healthy plants.
Soil needs to be fertilized because nutrients are used up by plants and are washed away gradually by rain and irrigation. Crops and annual flowers need fertilizer because they have a short, fast growing season. Compost is great and it is the cheapest; you can make it yourself, it is slow-release, and it contains micro nutrients and it is organic.
Tomorrow’s post will give a more complete overview on fertilizer.