Step 7-Fertilizing and Composting Read information and tips to help you keep your garden growing healthy and beauitful. Learn about basic garden care such as fertilizing, and composting.
Feeding the garden organic fertilizer Fertilizers give plants minerals needed for plant nourishment. Plants need many different chemical and trace elements for a balanced diet. Three main ones that are needed for healthy growth are: Nitrogen- Helps stems and leaves grow strong and healthy Phosphates-Helps in keep roots healthy Potassium-Grows healthy flowers. Also known as potash. Most fertilizers contain all three, and are known as complete fertilizers. Try organic fertilizer. It is environmentally friendly, and safe for you to use and make. Organic fertilizer is made from plants, animals, or minerals which has plant nutrients for fertilizing. One example of an organic fertilizer is leaf mould. Leaf mould can be made by collecting fallen leaves from your yard. Place them in a pile in a shady spot in a garden, or a corner of your yard. Have Mom or Dad help you make a small chicken wire netting enclosure to put leaves in. It usually takes a growing season to turn into leaf mould, and should be ready to mix into your garden next autumn.
Garden compost Garden compost is used as another natural fertilizer. It is organic matter that is made from a combination of decomposed yard and kitchen waste. Composting is the natural decaying of organic matter done by worms, and micro-organisms. The result of composting will give you an excellent nutrient-rich filled fertilizer, known as humus or compost to mix into your garden soil. This helps plants grow healthy, and improves any soil. Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of garbage waste, by using up some things you would normally throw in the trash. Grass clippings, leaves, vegetable and fruit scraps from the kitchen, and dead plants(NO WEEDS), are just some examples of organic materials to compost.
Starting a compost pile First you need something to put the organic material in. A container called a compost bin is ideal. Some garden centers or garden nurseries may carry the plastic compost bins. For faster results, place the bin in a sunny area with good air flow. The shadier the spot the longer the composting takes. Usually at the back or side of your yard is best. A store bought compost bin usually comes with an instruction guide and compost guide, which is a great help! If you have made your own compost bin, that's great. Just remember to build it where it will have good air flow and some sun. A fully enclosed bin is best. This way you won't attract pests such as rodents. Here is a simple guide to get you started. Start by placing a layer of chopped hay, broken up twigs from fallen tree branches, or dead plant stems on the bottom of your compost bin. These types of organic wastes help to drain moisture out and keep good air flow in the pile. Now you can add your kitchen scraps and yard waste as you collect them. Here are some things you can add to the compost pile -grass clippings, leaves, food scraps, dead plants, lint from the dryer. Here are some things NOT to put in the compost pile -bones, meat, or anything dairy, weeds, (cat, dog or human waste), anything very wet, or big size branches Try to rotate live(anything green) and brown materials. Layers of dry leaves, straw, or sawdust in between grass clippings, dead plants or kitchen scraps is best. Always put twice as much green materials as the brown materials in each layer. Make sure compost pile is kept moist. You may need to moisten the pile with a water hose. Every week the pile should be turned. You may need help from Mom or Dad. Using a shovel or compost aerator turn the pile so the outside of the pile gets turned to the inside. Always check moisture when turning the pile. Add water if it is too dry. Turning is important. It speeds up composting and saves you from some composting problems that may happen if not turned enough. It will take about 4 months or more to make a natural fertilizer from composting. It should look dark brown to black. The smell is very earthy. When the compost is ready to use spread it around your garden plants. Spring is good time to dig it into the soil before planting flowers or vegetables. Keep composting and you will have a naturally, healthy, and beautiful garden each growing season.
Artificial Fertilizers If you don't have room to make your own fertilizer from leaves, or garden compost, there are other options. If your garden needs fertilizing, there are artificial fertilizers available from your local greenhouse, and garden centers. They are easy and fast to use, BUT, for safety, a parent should be in charge of any feeding schedule, and all uses of fertilizers. Always follow directions given with any store bought fertilizers. Ask your local greenhouse what fertilizer would be best for your garden.