I hope that your fall gardening preparations for fall crops have been or are almost complete. It’s time to plant squash, beans, okra and cucumber seeds. Our fall starter plants will arrive any day now. Keep an eye on Facebook and we’ll let you know when they’re here.
Of all the different things that we put in our vegetable gardens, none is more important than fertilizer. It is the food that grows the food. Because I grow my vegetables all-naturally I need to fertilize sooner and more often than synthetic gardeners do. In a perfect world, I add a bag or 2 of compost and my pre-plant fertilizer about three to four weeks before I plant. I tend to use either a 50-pound bag of Wells Brothers Dirt Diet (4-1-2) or a 40-pound bag of Medina (3-2-3). I added the entire bag to about 300 square feet of garden area. If that sound like a lot it’s not and here why. Most gardens (including mine) in the North Texas area are raised beds that have a lot of compost added. That’s a good thing but compost only has about 1% nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Nitrogen is already spoken for since it’s one of the engines that drives decomposition. Adding nitrogen feeds the plants but also fuels more decomposition. This means the plants and dirt are in competition for the same resources. Nitrogen can also be washed out with a lot of rain and some types can evaporate. Compost has such small quantities of P and K that they should be considered nonexistent and should be added to the garden. A soil test will give you an idea what the garden needs.
Depending on the weather, this pre-plant fertilization lasts four to six weeks after planting. After that, I need to start fertilizing. Normally I change pre-plant fertilizer from season to season but it’s not necessary.
If you are making the switch this fall from synthetic to all natural gardening, you will want to read up on Organic Crop Production Requirements. This guide will give you good direction on how to make the switch.