October always brings an introspective vibe with it. It’s a time when things start to slow down. Animals prepare to hibernate, tree and plants drop their leaves and Mother Nature takes a collective yawn to take a deep nap. During this time, adding fertilizer to your garden might seem like the worst idea.
Fertilizer boosts plant growth and when they’re preparing to hibernate, this can be counterintuitive for their health. Luckily, this is not always the case. Adding a little bit of fertilizer to your garden during fall can help you get better, stronger plants in spring and summer.
In fact, October is a great time to fertilize your garden. Just be sure to pay attention to the following:
Great to Replenish Nutrients
After a summer harvest, your garden beds and other soil, in general, can be depleted of essential nutrients. Many gardeners prefer to let the area rest. They usually add fertilizer when the first thaw of early spring happens but why not get a head start?
Adding the fertilizer in October is better for your soil and any plants as well. In this manner, when early spring is here, you can cut down on the resting time for a garden bed. By mid-spring, you can prepare the area for a good harvest in summer.
Timing it Right
When adding fertilizer in October, you have to pay attention to the timing. A good rule of thumb is to add it at least two to three weeks before the first frost. This allows any plants to utilize it and ensures that they’re not experiencing a growth spurt when the frost comes. During this time, any new growth is going to be vulnerable to the cold and could cause the plant to suffer.
Additionally, don’t put fertilizer when the ground has hardened or when the frost has formed. This can be a waste as it won’t get absorbed. Plants have also slowed down their metabolism by the end of fall so the fertilizer can end up breaking their hibernation cycle.
Avoid Overdoing It
If you’re thinking of adding fertilizer in the fall, try to add an amount which only meets the minimum requirements. As mentioned previously, adding too much or at the wrong time can be harmful to the plant. All fertilizer feedings should be mild and just enough to help the plants tide over the winter months.
Interestingly, you can find fertilizer blends which are made particularly for use during fall. However, when following the instructions for use, apply the same methodology – less is more. If the manufacturers ask you to add a cup to water, you should add a half a cup.
Use Mulch Instead
One of the best fertilizers for fall happens to be mulch. Mulching can give your plants some insulation against the cold. Organic mulch will also be slowly broken down by the plants and give them nutrients.
For some plants, mulch can be a necessity as it prevents the frost from reaching the roots. However, if you experience a lot of rainfall during fall and winter, mulch might not be the best option. It can trap water for the plants and can result in overwatering.
If you follow the tips mentioned above, you can easily fertilize your garden and make sure you have a good, green summer.
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