Fertilizers come in different forms but they all essentially do the same thing: feed your plants. Growing plants need supplemental fertilizer to produce the most flowers, fruits and vegetables that they can. Use a combination of different fertilizer types for a complete fertilization program and vigorous, robust plants.
Water-Soluble Fertilizer Mixed with Water
This type of fertilizer is mixed with water to apply. It is sprayed on the leaves and/or watered into the soil. This fertilizer provides a quick, short-lived burst of energy. You should immediately notice succulent leaf growth. Use this type of fertilizer in conjunction with slower releasing types for optimal plant health.
Water Soluble Granular Fertilizer
Water soluble granular fertilizer is applied directly to the soil beneath the mulch. This gives plants a dose of food for a four- to six-week period. It will help plants grow strong root systems, produce flowers and set fruit. Re-apply this type of fertilizer every four to six weeks during the growing season.
Slow-Release Granular Fertilizer
This type of fertilizer is spread on the ground around the plants' root systems after removing any mulch. Slow-release granular fertilizer has a special coating that breaks down slowly, releasing nutrients gradually over time. This is a complete fertilizer and will provide your plants all of the nutrients they need to grow healthy roots, leaves, flowers and fruit. Apply slow-release granulated fertilizer twice during the growing season--once in early spring and again six to eight weeks later.
Fertilizer spikes are compressed powdered and granulated fertilizer shaped into spikes about the size of a banana and are primarily used on fruit trees. Drive them directly into the ground beneath the canopy of leaves in the tree's root zone. They will provide fruit trees with a balanced amount of nutrients to help them grow healthy roots, branches, leaves, flowers and help them set fruit. Fruit trees should be fertilized using fertilizer spikes once a year in early spring.
Fertilizer from Organic Soil Amendments
Organic materials like compost and manure improve the structure of the soil while slowing releasing a small amount of nutrients. Dig them into the growing bed prior to planting your crops. Layer on top of the soil during the growing season for an extra boost of nutrients. Although compost and manure contain all of the essential nutrients that plants need to grow and produce crops, a large amount of them are needed to provide enough of the nutrients plants need to grow healthy. Supplement them by using another type of commercially manufactured fertilizer mentioned above.