That has always been my weak point. I know (barely) not to fertilize
when plants are dormant, but I always stumble when, e.g., to fertilize
my roses after mid-January pruning.
I have two young fruit trees (Plum and Apricot) which are just
shedding their leaves, and two blueberry bushes in large pots, one of
which is confused enough to be blooming and setting fruit.
I also have growing "winter" vegetable crops that, I assume, it's OK
to fertilize: Peas, beets, carrots, green onions, bok choy, stuff like
Is there ONE comprehensive "when to fertilize" rule? Geared to my
mild "Mediterranean" climate -- So. Calif coastal?
It's very hard to say it all in one rule that would always be applicable.
Fertilise when the plants need the minerals. That would be when the plants
have reduced (or will soon reduce) the available minerals below its
requirement AND when they need them, that is when they are (or soon will be)
growing strongly. The type, amount and frequency of application will
depends on your soil, the plants and the conditions. Over fertilising can
be as harmful, or more harmful, than under fertilising, this error is easy
to make with sources that are concentrated such as synthetics or fresh chook
Roses like a lot of nutrients. I feed mine monthly from when the leaf
buds begin to swell until mid-October.
I have only one deciduous fruit tree, a peach. It gets fed once a year,
when flower buds start to show a little color (before they open).
My dwarf citrus is mostly in large pots with a fast-draining mix. That
means nutrients leach away quickly. I lightly feed my citrus every
three weeks from the beginning of March until the beginning of October.
My camellias and azaleas get fed once a year, when they are through
Everything else -- including the grass in back -- gets fed once a year,
in March or April.
Excess fertilizer promotes excess foliage, which requires excess water.
Without trying to have a drought-tolerant garden, I'm trying to
conserve water. Thus, I avoid feeding more than once a year except for
the roses and citrus.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
Balanced (5-10-10, 10-10-10, 20-20-20) with secondary and
micronutrients when the plant wants it -- leaves will show
yellowing or spotting. Higher N is used for foliage, P and
K for fruiting and flowering. Synthetics (Peter's, Miracle-Gro)
are faster release than organics, less likely to burn or be
overapplied HOWEVER organics can get you in trouble
if excessively overdone. Fish emulsion is wonderful
fertilizer, but excess, especially in soggy soil, breeds
fungus gnats or other pests. Root damage from gnat
maggots impairs nutrient uptake. If infestation isn't
obvious, you end up pouring on more fertilizer, which
makes the problem worse, making you pour on still
more fertilizer, breeding still more maggots. If you
need to resort to bug killers, your "organic" plant
food is no longer so "organic."
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