|Blood meal is one form of organic nitrogen|
that can be used to side dress
Earlier in the season, around mid-March, I was encouraging you to plant your own onion transplants and grow your own onions. They are so much better tasting and I gave the readers here and on my blog some varieties to choose from. Many are available from seed and started from seed in about mid-October, the same time as you would plant garlic.
Most people forget a very important concept in their home gardens – regular fertilizing. As plants get bigger or start producing they are taking all of these “goodies” from the soil to get bigger or start producing. I will get back to onions in a minute.
What would happen to you if you were always giving and receiving nothing in return? Plants can’t continue to “give” without getting something in return if you expect them to be healthy and productive. So all plants as they get bigger and you harvest require fertilizer.
Plant health depends on regular fertilizer applications if you are always "taking".
"As expectations for plants increase....more inputs (water, fertilizer, time, energy)are needed."
Fertilize your garden plants monthly when they are producing. Think about what they are taking from the soil. Was the soil enriched at the time of planting so they have plenty to “pick from” or is the soil’s nutrient reserve running low?
|Ammonium sulfate granular fertilizer also known as|
21-0-0 since it is all nitrogen (21%) and no phosphorus or
The first nutrient to disappear from the soil, for a number of reasons, is nitrogen. It is very important to supplement your vegetables with some extra nitrogen monthly.
If the plants are up and growing it is not wise to just broadcast the fertilizer (throw it out over the garden willy-nilly) or the fertilizer “salts” may burn foliage. Deposit the dry fertilizer next to each plant or dribble it along the row. This is called “side-dressing” with nitrogen.
Why did I mention onions earlier? Because they need to be side-dressed as well and are frequently forgotten. One more side-dressing on onion and garlic and then stop as you will be harvesting in two months.
Use your favorite source of nitrogen. If you are an organic gardener, select an organic form that you like. If you are not that fussy, then use a traditional ag-type nitrogen fertilizer like ammonium sulfate. When you side-dress, it is normally just nitrogen as it moves into the soil freely with an irrigation.
If these are annual plants, all the other nutrient “goodies” we normally put in the soil at the time of planting.
What makes big onions? The variety you select, improved garden soil, spacing them 4 to 6 inches apart, regular and frequent watering, weed control and side-dressing with nitrogen as they are growing and expanding. Pull or lift them when the tops fall over naturally. If you are pulling them, make sure the soil is wet when you are pulling or you will pull the tops off.
Remember, my blog, Xtremehorticulture of the Desert, has a lot of pictures that supplement my discussions here.