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There are two basic kinds of fertilizer: organic and inorganic. These contain food sources that are easily absorbed by a plant when added to the soil. Organic material does not contain all of the nutrients a plant needs for growth, or provides them too slowly. Fertilizers are a way to give your plants the need nutrients quickly. They are sold under brand names, or as a formula, some examples include: 5-10-5, 4-12-4 or 10-6-4.

There is a wide variety of fertilizers. The most popular is nitrogen, then phosphorous, and the third most popular is potash. The numbers in the formula may change, but the order will stay the same. The numbers represent the percentage of elements in every 100 pounds of fertilizer. The difference in percentages is due to the the purpose of the fertilizer is. For example, the 10-6-4 formula is used for lawns or feeding trees and shrubbery, the other formulas above are for flowers or vegetables.

There are many other more concentrated fertilizers as well; these are referred to as high analysis fertilizers. These dissolve quickly into water, and are most commonly used for liquid feeding. Lower analysis fertilizers take a long to dissolve, therefore take longer to reach the plant. The more concentrated the fertilizer, the quicker it will reach the plant. Concentrated fertilizers include the formulas 20-20-20, 15-30-15, and similar kinds.  These will be used during the active growing season, feeding 1-2 tablespoons in 1-2 gallons of water.

Larger amounts represent waste, or may actually harm your plants.  Feeding should be done at ten day to two week intervals, and when used correctly they create excellent growth. Lower analysis fertilizers are normally spread over the land in the early spring when you are working up the soil. You will want to use three pounds per 100 square feet, mixing it into the soil. If you use organic material as well, you will want to spread it first, and then apply the fertilizer, mixing both into the soil.

This process is the best way to handle both products. Organic fertilizers are created by by-product from the meat pack industry or created from sewage and food or oil products. They are slow in actions and low in elements. However they are beneficial to plants and have a good effect on the soil. They are great for plants that need a long growing season, and gradual feeding, as they will last longer than those products in the chemical group. 

Fertilizers are often mixed so your plants will receive immediate nutrients, as well as prolonged feeding. Organic fertilizers included bone meal, bone flour, steamed bone meal, dried blood, tankage, fish meal, soy meal, and cottonseed meal. These are often sold under brand names.  You can find the analysis on the bag or container. These fertilizers should be put in the ground in spring or early summer since they are so slow.  Bone meal is best applied in the autumn for lilacs, shrubs and hedges.

Bone Meal has an alkaline reaction, so do not use it with rhododendrons or similar plants.  You should use 4-7 pounds for every 100 square feet, the same for peat moss, if you are using this in place of compost or manure.  Desiccated or dried manures are another class of fertilizer. They are still organic, but their action is between the chemical and other organic fertilizers. All are animal manures, sometimes they are mixed with a peat moss or other materials.

Manures are great for lawns and garden, and should be used in the active growing season. They make excellent liquid manures or fertilizers. The manure will be placed in a bag and suspended in water in any convenient container. You should use one pound of manure per each gallon of water. This will need to be left to stand for a week. After this you need to dilute the liquid with I part manure to 5 parts water before adding it to the plants. This can be used weekly during the growing season,  as it has a wonderful effect on you plants, especially for young seedling that are just transplanted!