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The golden rules for fertilizing

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General view - Ornamental Vegetable Garden.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Michel Tremblay)
  1. Analyze your soil before adding any amendments or fertilizer.
  2. Pay attention to your plants’ requirements. 
    It is important to pay attention to your plants’ requirements when amending the soil and fertilizing them. Some plants prefer poor, dry soil, while others will grow only in rich, cool soil. Choosing the right plant for the right place will save you time, money and effort, and give the best results. It will also protect the environment, because you will use less water and fertilizer and fewer pesticides.
  3. Carefully read product labels and follow manufacturer’s recommendations. 
    Before using an amendment or fertilizer, it is very important to read the product label and follow the directions. Pay careful attention to the instructions for using it, the risks involved and any precautions to be taken before, during and afterward, along with storage conditions.
    As a rule, when handling or applying fertilizer or soil amendments, you should wear gloves. If the product tends to produce a lot of dust, you should also wear a protective mask and long sleeves and pants.
    All products should be stored in their original containers to avoid any confusion. They should also be kept out of the reach of children and pets. If any are ingested, contact the Quebec Poison Control Centre, at 1-800-463-5060.
  4. Avoid overworking the soil: Growing practices such as hoeing, lightly turning the soil and mulching will allow you to gradually improve your soil’s physical properties, maintain its biological activity and limit erosion and compaction.
  5. Water the soil before applying fertilizer. 
    It is best to water the soil before applying fertilizer. This will help you avoid burning your plants’ roots. This is particularly important for container-grown plants and when using chemical fertilizers.
  6. Keep fertilizers away from plant roots and collars. 
    When applying fertilizer to the soil surface, keep it about 7 to 8 cm away from the plant, to avoid burning the collar and roots. Then you can scratch it into the soil. When planting, transplanting or sowing seeds, it is best to work fertilizers into the soil a few days ahead of time. You should also mix fertilizers into compost one or two weeks before applying it.
  7. Do not add any high-nitrogen fertilizer after mid-July. 
    Stop using any high-nitrogen fertilizer after mid-July so as not to interfere with hardening-off.

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