After a long winter in many parts of the country, spring is finally here. And while the wintry wind was blowing, you may have found yourself flipping through seed catalogs, or dreaming of spending sun-filled days in your garden. Now it’s time to turn your thoughts and plans into action to make sure your soil is healthy and ready for planting.


Fertilizing Plant


The first step is to give your soil a check up by testing the pH (the acidity or alkalinity) of the soil. You can purchase a DIY soil test or contact your local extension office—they will usually perform a pH test for a small fee. Based on the results, you can determine which nutrients your soil needs.

Just as you take a daily vitamin each day for your personal health, fertilizer works in a similar way for the soil in your garden. There are five types of fertilizers, including time-release formulas, organic options and liquid fertilizers that can deliver a quick shot of nutrients, and can work over a short or longer period of time. Some may require that you use them in the fall so that they can work into the soil over the winter.

If you have poor soil, meaning it’s not nutrient-rich, or you’ve had several seasons of planting and harvesting, then it’s well worth the effort to fertilize your soil so that you get good growth and a bounty of flowers and vegetables.

All-purpose fertilizers have a balanced combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K), but some plants need a special balance of nutrients for optimum growth. A little homework and planning now will ensure you can enjoy your garden and its bounty all season long. The following are a few suggestions to help you grow thriving produce and plants.

Best Fertilizers Nutrients for Produce

Growing Tomatoes


  1. Peas and beans typically require only a compost rich starter fertilizer.
  2. Tomatoes, peppers and squash will benefit from phosphorus; and magnesium helps distribute phosphorus, and ensures strong roots.
  3. Blueberries and dark leafy greens like spinach thrive in acidic soil. If your soil is more alkaline, add sulfur.

Best Fertilizer Nutrients for Plants

Yellow Rose Bush


  1. Synthetic fertilizers typically work well for perennials, and water-soluble for annuals.
  2. Camellias, Azaleas, and Rhododendrons benefit from sulfur and iron.
  3. Roses require perhaps the most nutrients, particularly nitrogen.


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