Quick Guide on How and When to Fertilize
The nutrient needs for different crops vary. For example, green leafy crops need two to four times as much nitrogen than potassium, and vegetables that produce fruit need more phosphorous. Rather than catering to each of these individual needs, use a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer that contains a fairly equal amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Spread the fertilizer evenly over the entire area, then boost the level of one nutrient by “side dressing”–working the fertilizer gently into the top one or two inches of the soil–or by pouring compost tea at the base of the plant. Also remember to foliar feed in the method discussed earlier, every two weeks.
For green foliage, a fertilizer mix of blood and bone meal should be applied twice a year: once in the spring and once in midsummer or early fall.
Spring plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons should be fertilized just after they bloom. Cottonseed meal is suggested. It is important not to fertilize after mid-summer because of the impending colder weather of the fall and winter.
Fertilizing a lawn has specific needs also. It is best to use only a slow-release granular fertilizer on lawns. Fertilize twice a year: once in spring and in early fall. A broadcast spreader may be used for large lawns, while a drop spreader is suitable for a medium-size lawn. Overlap the tracks by three-quarters of an inch. On small lawns, a hand-held spreader is sufficient. Keep in mind that the more compost you use in your garden, if it is applied frequently enough, the use of fertilizer will not be as necessary.