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Garden Care And Maintenance - Feeding Garden Plants In The Spring

Due to the many crucial garden tasks that have to be carried out in the spring, its best to get the feeding out of the way as early as possible at the onset of spring.

In dry, Mediterranean and hot summer regions, it makes a good deal of sense to get the job of feeding the garden plants completed at the very onset of spring or even at the end of winter. There are two compelling reasons for this.

The first one is that spring is the season when the gardener has so many tasks that simply have to be carried out, such as pruning and clipping evergreen shrubs, weeding and planting, that its best logistically, that the feeding be well out the way before the onslaught starts.

The second reason applies to the use of bulky organic materials such as compost and commercially produced humus. The plants, it should be recalled, take up the nutrients essential to their growth and development in the form of dissolved mineral salts. As it takes a certain period of time for compost to break down from an organic to a mineral state, and considering that the spring is the principle growing season in these climates, it is desirable that the nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous, be readily available to the plants at exactly the time when they need them most.

Chemical fertilizer or compost?

One of the perennial and long-standing dilemmas suffered by many home gardeners is whether to feed their plants with chemical fertilizers, or whether to apply compost to the soil. Chemical fertilizers are the cheapest and most efficient method of supplying immediately accessible nutrients to the plants. The trouble is that their excessive and prolonged use, has amongst other drawbacks, detrimental consequences for the long-term health of the soil.

Spreading bags of compost on the other hand, may be laborious and relatively expensive, but if carried out on a regular basis once in the spring and again in the autumn causes the soils quality as a living habitat to improve progressively. Numerous benefits accrue as a result in such matters as an improved air/moisture balance, reduced pests and disease infestations, and a balanced supply of nutrients released in a controlled fashion to the garden plants.

For beds that have yet to be planted, compost should be incorporated at the rate of at least 20-30 liters per square meter of soil. Amongst established plants however, a rate of 5 liters per square meter is a more realistic figure. Care should be taken not to injure the roots of trees and shrubs by digging with garden forks or similar instruments. It is best therefore to avoid such tools and simply cultivate the soil lightly around the plants.

If a soil test reveals chronic nutrient deficiencies, particularly in the three macro-elements, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, then additional amendments to compost should be considered. These can supplied by such products as commercially prepared humus, based on worm castes, and organic or controlled released fertilizers, that while being more expensive than readily soluble fertilizer, need only be applied twice a year, and a far less hazardous to the biological and chemical balance of the soil.

Feeding lawns

In hot, dry summer regions, lawn varieties are usually perennial types like Bermuda grass or species of Zoysia. It is possible to feed them at the beginning of springFree Web Content, but it is preferable to wait until dethatching has been completed in the middle of spring.

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My name is Jonathan Ya'akobi.I've been gardening in a professional capacity since 1984.I am the former head gardener of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, but now concentrate on building gardens for private home owners.I also teach horticulture to students on training courses.I'd love to help you get the very best from your garden,so you're welcome to visit me on

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