GENERAL HINTS ON USING FERTILIZERS
1. Apply solid fertilizers as base dressing to thebefore sowing or planting, or as top dressings during the growing period.
2. To make fertilizers effective mix them with a little soil and spread them as evenly as possible all over the soil surface. Small amounts are more easily distributed if mixed with dry, sifted soil or sand.
3. As they will injure most garden seeds do not scatter any fertilizers down the seed drill.
4. Fertilizer distributors mounted on a pair of wheels ensure even distribution.
5. Always hoe or rake in the fertilizer lightly to avoid caking on the surface.
6. The recommended rates of application are usually given in terms of oz. per sq. yd., usually l to 2 oz. per sq. yd. for top dressings and 4 oz. per sq. yd. For base dressings.
7. It is a good plan to weigh out the required amount for, say, 5 sq. yds., put the fertilizer into a tin and make a mark on the inside to show the level. Then spread the fertilizer evenly overs sq. yds., to give a good guide as to the distribution for the rest of the plot. Water in during dry weather.
8. In general the closer the plants are set the more fertilizer should be applied. Some vegetables, however, have sparse root systems that are unable to explore the soil fully and contact the fertilizer that has been mixed in it. Therefore, when the rows are about 2 ft. or more apart the best results will often be obtained by placing the fertilizer in bands a few inches below the level of the seeds or the roots of transplanted plants. About half the normal amount of fertilizer will be required for band placement, as this method is called.
9. Mix phosphatic and potassic fertilizers thoroughly with the top spit by forking or by rotary cultivation, so that they will be available in the root zone where there is more moisture. These fertilizers do not move appreciably from where they are first placed in the soil. In soils which have been liberally manured in the past the phosphates and potash can be safely reduced in relation to nitrogen.
10. When farmyard manure orhas been dug in, the amount of fertilizer can be reduced by one-quarter for light dressings of F.Y.M.; by half for medium dressings of F.Y.M.; by three-quarters for very heavy dressings (is to 20 lb. per sq. yd.) of F.Y.M. 11. Light, sandy soils will generally need more potash than loamy or clay soils, depending on the needs of the plants or crop to be grown. In rainy districts or heavily watered soils some of the nutrients, particularly nitrogen, will wash out into the deeper layers, out of reach of a shallow-rooted plant. Top dressings of nitrogen help to counteract this loss.
Top or side dressings should be applied to the surface of the soil in such a position that they can be absorbed by feeding roots. These roots are less numerous near the stem. For crops that are closely spaced in rows, spread the fertilizer in a band on either side of each row on the soil surface, or in between the rows according to the stage of growth. Apply fertilizers in rings round widely spaced plants. Fertilizers work more quickly in moist soils, so water them in or apply them in solution during dry periods.
Never allow inorganic fertilizers — except the special leaf sprays — to touch the foliage of plants, otherwise scorching will follow.
Most fertilizers are difficult to store as they tend to absorb moisture from the air, and either become a sticky or solid mass or burst their bags. However since fertilizers are cheaper when bought in bulk one tends to buy more than is required immediately so it is a good plan to pour the fertilizer into a plastic bag and label it. Store this inside a tin and keep the tin covered. Do not leave bags of fertilizer touching each other on shelves, against brick walls, or in damp sheds for if the fertilizers go solid or sticky they will never regain their original condition.