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Novice gardeners and experts alike know that growing healthy and beautiful plants require a little bit of help. Our gardens need a whole lot of support so green plants can keep growing, flowering plants can bloom, and grass grows fast. We also need help fighting off diseases and pests. A proper fertilizer can do that job!
If you’ve been visiting gardener’s stores and local shops, you may have noticed how fertilizers are labeled and categorized. They really come in huge varieties and mixtures. There are different ingredients, and for new gardeners, all these terminologies can be hard for you to narrow down exactly what you need.
One kind has taken the title as an all-purpose synthetic fertilizer. It’s easy to use and good for plants that need plenty of nitrogen. We’re talking about the well-balanced plant food – the 10 10 10 fertilizer.
What do the numbers on fertilizer mean?
The numbers you find on a bag of fertilizer will actually help you decide which kind is best for your garden. The three numbers of 10 10 10 fertilizer indicate the percentages of nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the plant food formula.
That means there is 10% of nitrogen (N), 10% of phosphorus (P), and 10% potassium (K). These components are called n p k – the three main nutrients needed for plants to thrive.
One thing I’m sure you’ve understood by now is – different plants have different needs. The ratios such as the 10 10 10 fertilizer reflect nutritional needs. Repeating numbers like that, help plants produce edible green foliage.
We’re going to learn a bit of science today, so sit back, and let’s dive into this. The purpose of Nitrogen (N) in plants is to help form a protein. Protein is a key element in the tissues of most living things. Plants that need healthy and nutritious leaves benefit from nitrogen. When the nitrogen (n) percentage is equal to P and K, the fertilizer is high in nitrogen.
Not all plants require high nitrogen content. Take, for example, the fruit crop, tomato. If you used a 10 10 10 fertilizer, you will be growing a crop with giant leaves but not much fruit! Fruit crops are best-fed mixed ratio fertilizers such as 4-8-12. This kind of fertilizer has lesser N than P or K resulting in large and juicy fruits.
Plants may be classified by how lightly they feed. So you will often read a plant be described as a heavy, medium, or light feeder. When you need plant food for heavy feeders, a higher number of fertilizers are the best option. Smaller numbers, intuitively, are recommended for light feeders.
While 8 8 8 and 10 10 10 fertilizers are the same ratios, the numbers show us how much NPK nutrient it contains.
Nutrients and Plant Food
We already know the role Nitrogen plays in our garden’s health. The second nutrient essential for garden health is Phosphorus (P). This nutrient is linked to a plant’s ability to store and use up energy. If you want a strong and healthy garden developing normally – the P is key.
The third key nutrient is Potassium (K). This helps plants resist disease, and helps them increase crop yields, and improve overall crop quality. They are also capable of strengthening the root system, protecting plants from harsh weather, and preventing wilts.
Now, here’s something you should note. It’s common for fertilizer labels to call themselves a “complete and all-purpose fertilizer” as long as it contains these three nutrients (NPK). That’s why you’ll find many 10 10 10 fertilizers with that label. A serious gardener should know that plants need at least 17 nutrients to fully thrive.
In any case, these three ingredients are essential and required by all plants (in varying ratios). The 10 10 10 fertilizer comes in a few varieties such as easy-to-use liquid fertilizer, slow-release granular, and organic fertilizer.
The slow-release granular 10 10 10 fertilizer is the best and most popular option for many. Not only is it easier to feed your garden with, but it also comes in large quantities ideal for your lawn.
How To Use 10 10 10 fertilizer
Test Your Soil
Before you add lawn fertilizer to your soil, it’s a best practice to conduct a soil test to determine how much of the three elements are already present in your garden. By doing this, you will learn what your soil lacks and what additional needs you can provide to improve plant growth.
If you want lush foliage, you’ll need plenty of nitrogen. To grow fruit, you’ll have to use less nitrogen.
There are plenty of instructions online on how you can create a DIY soil-testing kit, but I recommend you purchase one instead. These are affordable and accessible. Test kits come with an easy test for PH, NPK, and they’re almost always available in local garden centers.
If your soil test reveals well-balanced soil, you can still add fertilizer to boost your crop’s overall fertility. The 10-10-10 fertilizer is the best kind to do that.
Know Your Plant’s Nutritional Requirements
We know that each plant has different needs. Knowing how and when you should apply fertilizer is crucial for the health of the plants. You will have to extensively research their feeding and care requirements depending on their maturity. For example, roses, which are heavy feeders, will benefit from a weak dose of 10 10 10 fertilizer weekly. Leafy green plants, on the other hand, prefer feeding a month after planting. The perennial asparagus appreciates fertilizer application around the early spring season. Trees and shrubs will benefit from the second dose of lawn fertilizer in early summer season and then a light dose in the fall season. Again, to be sure, research, research, research!
How much lawn fertilizer do you need?
Every item of fertilizer bag comes with a coverage guide on their packaging. You’ll have to determine the square footage of your garden to know the right bag size. As a common fertilizer, the 10 10 10 application is best for your whole garden or lawn. Generally, you will have to apply 10 10 10 fertilizer at 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
This video by Lawn Rage explains how to calculate the amount of fertilizers you’ll need for your lawns.
Applying The All-Purpose Fertilizer
When you decide to apply fertilizer to your garden or to your lawn, you should be dressed appropriately. This means, if possible, no skin is exposed as fertilizers can cause burns from their chemicals. Wear safety goggles, gloves, and a mask.
If you are using your hands to apply fertilizer, always were gloves and walk backwards. Throw the slow-time release fertilizer in an even, sweeping motion in your lawn or over your plants. Applying fertilizer by hand is ideal for garden beds and hard-to-reach areas because it ensures better control.
If you want a more precise application, you can buy a broadcast applicator or fertilizer spreader. But remember to always clean your spreader equipment after applying common fertilizer. This isn’t organic, the chemicals are corrosive and can damage your equipment. However, that same corrosive property can help break down organic matter. Some gardeners add granular 10 10 10 fertilizer to their compost mix to speed up the composting process.
Younger plants are more fragile and will easily burn if they are directly fed the triple 10 fertilizers. The best application process that also allows for easier absorption and control is to dilute the fertilizer. Use the liquid water-soluble fertilizer solution to feed nutrients. Mix the fertilizer into a bucket of water and dilute.
During the dormant seasons of late fall and winter, you can opt to stop fertilizing, or continue to apply in small amounts. We also don’t want to pollute the environment! So watch the weather before you choose to feed your soil. Heavy rain causes fertilizer to leech out of your soil and go down the drain and damage the local water around you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should you use 10-10-10 fertilizer?
Warm-season grass should be fed four times a year. When you see new growth, do a spring application on your lawn and then another round 30 days later. If you are experiencing slow growth in the fall season, apply fertilizer.
When should I apply 10-10-10 fertilizer to my lawn?
Make sure there is no signs of rain or heavy rainfall coming. Choose a cool day and apply early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Applying during a hot, scorching day can cause the soil on your lawn to dry out. This in turn causes the grass to get burned.
What kind of fertilizer is the 10-10-10?
This is an all-purpose, synthetic fertilizer. It contains, in equal parts, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium or NPK. Leafy green crops, grass, trees, and established perennials benefit the most from this fertilizer because they need a lot of nitrogen.
What is potash?
Potash and phosphate are both used to produced fertilizer. But they play different roles in crop growth, and so, they cannot be use interchangeably. Identify the specific requirements of your crop, soil type and other specifics to learn whether you need on your soil.
Is Triple 10 fertilizer good for lawns?
Yes, the nitrogen in 10-10-10 or complete fertilizers help lawns grow more dense and more green! Use a slow-release formula to keep feeding your grass.