Soil Fertilizer and Soil Additives

For information on garden soil fertilizer, soil additives and how to get the best from them - you may need to suspend some belief from the writing on the packet, and pop back to school for a minute or two...

A common illusion about soil fertilizer and soil additives is that they are direct nutrients which must be promptly absorbed or they will be lost (either leached out of the soil by rain, or locked up in some insoluble, unusable form).

The fact is that instead of being used directly to any extent, most of the nutrients in soil fertilizer compounds are quickly blotted up by soil organisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa and actinomyces.

Gardener's Loam contains billions upon billions of such organisms which occupy the soil mass so completely that very little in the way of soluble plant food can escape them. They act as reservoirs of fertility, releasing it when they die.

Since their life span is short, such food is not tied up for long periods, but merely saved for later use by plants. The role of microorganisms in conserving fertility cannot be overestimated.

The ideal garden soil fertilizer would be one that supplied every needed element of nutrition for the crop being grown, at a rate that would take advantage of all available light, heat, moisture and oxygen needed by plants.

This ideal material would supply some nutrients in quickly-available form for immediate growth, yet would contain other nutrient fractions that would be released so slowly that a single application in spring would continue to feed until cold stopped plant growth in fall.

All through this cycle of combined slow and fast release, enough surplus nutrients would be given off to provide food needed by soil organisms to carry on their functions.

Claims for various materials are endless and often self-contradictory. In general it may be said that chemical and mineral fertilizers are more readily available for immediate use by plants, while organic materials (which must undergo more involved decomposition before they can be absorbed) are slower in action and last longer in the soil.

These distinctions are being gradually eliminated by the development of long-lasting chemicals, that release fertility even more slowly than some organic manures.

Avoiding Fertilizer Burn - if you want to avoid brown lawn patches, or brown plants, take note.

Fertilizer Costs - how to calculate the REAL cost of fertilizer.

Fertilizer Formula - a no stress approach to feeding your soil.

Learn More About Soil Fertilizers & Additives

The big 'N P K' - understand just what is in those magic bags of fertilizer, and how to make sure you're choosing the right fertilizer:

Chemical Nitrogen In Soil - understanding nitrogen in soil, and how it is used to make fertilizer products.
Organic Nitrogen And Soil - organic forms for getting more nitrogen into your soil.
Phosphorus And Soil - phosphorus is vital to your soil of course. But bone meal is so overrated.
Potassium And Soil (Potash Fertilizer) - potash is the common term for the fertilizer forms of potassium.
Mixed Fertilizers - the gardeners preference, so what do NPK values refer to?