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Past Articles Library | Organic Fertilizer

Learn How to Read a Fertilizer Label

Understanding how to read a fertilizer label can be compared to learning how to read a food label.  And just like food, it is important to provide the correct ingredients for strong stems, leaves, and roots.  These ingredients can be found on any fertilizer package.

The first thing you will notice is fertilizer is described in numbers.  This is represented in a ratio where the first number represents the amount of nitrogen.  The second number represents phosphorus and the third number represents potassium.  Now that we know how to read the package, what exactly does this mean for plant growth?

The N, P, K ratio describes the required primary macronutrients that plants need for proper growth.

Nitrogen is a very important element and is used by plants during the photosynthetic process.  It is also an important component of chlorophyll, which is what makes plants green.  This element helps plants grow rapidly and increases fruit and seed production.

The quality of vegetation, such as greens, improves with sufficient amounts of nitrogen.

Phosphorus is another important element needed for proper plant development.  It is part of the photosynthetic process just like nitrogen.  Proper amounts of this element help the plant mature properly and tolerate stress.  It also affects any type of rapid growth and promotes blooming and root growth.

Potassium is the last element in the N, P, K ratio.  It is used by the plant to build protein, improve fruit quality and reduce disease.

Other macronutrients exist and include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.  All of these are involved in some form or fashion in the photosynthetic process and the conversion of proteins, enzymes and vitamins.

Other information that can be found on the fertilizer package is the type of micronutrients that may be in the fertilizer formula.  Micronutrients or trace elements are those needed in very small amounts.  While these nutrients may be needed in trace amounts, do not be fooled in thinking that they are not important.

Micronutrients for plants include boron, copper, iron, chloride, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.

All of these nutrients are involved in chlorophyll production, enzyme regulation, plant metabolism, and the growth of plants’ reproductive organs. 

Understanding what you are feeding your plants is very important.  Feeding your plants the correct formulation will not only make your gardening experience more positive but will also help your plant material be the best it can be.


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Recently, certain manufacturers of deodorant, have abandoned the use of all chemicals in their products.

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