Feeding Your Plants- The Low-Down on Fertilizer, Part 1

Originally Published March 2015

The Seasons
The Seasons

March has been unusually busy for me here at The Herb Cottage. The month has slipped by before I even knew it. It’s Spring now, with the Vernal Equinox having passed last week. 

I love this time of year here in Texas. I just want to be outdoors, pulling weeds and clearing beds and preparing my big containers for Spring vegetable planting. I thought I’d reprise this newsletter from 2 years ago. There’s a lot of information in it. Take your time reading it and try to put some of the advice into practice this year in your garden beds and containers.

The Vernal Equinox

has passed and we are now officially in Spring! It’s planting and growing season! Even if there’s snow on the ground where you live, if you’re a gardener, you’re preparing for the growing season. Seeds and transplants come to mind first, of course,

but how do you plan to keep your plants healthy and productive?

Whether you are a gardener with raised beds, a traditional row vegetable garden, flower and herb beds or lots of containers for your garden, fertility and nutrition are keys to a successful growing season.

First, some basics on fertilizers and what those numbers mean that are on the package.

Continue reading “Feeding Your Plants- The Low-Down on Fertilizer, Part 1”

Feeding Your Plants- The Low-Down on Fertilizer, Part 3

This post is a continuation of the March 2015 Newsletter.

Here is the Part 1 of the Newsletter.

Here is Part 2.

Container Growing

Fall Container  Garden

Vegetables in large containers last fall at The Herb Cottage

Container Growing

Look at those carrots!!

Container gardening is growing in popularity due to our smaller homes, urban living and for some, less time to devote to a garden. Beautiful and productive gardens can be grown in containers. Almost any vegetable can be grown in a large container and there are many varieties of vegetables being bred for container production: bush-type cucumbers and squash, small eggplants and other more compact varieties.

Here is a 3 Step Method that will keep your container gardens healthy and productive all season.


  • Start with excellent potting mix.

    Either find one with a slow release fertilizer already incorporated, or purchase a slow release fertilizer and mix it in. There are now organic slow release fertilizers, too. These generally last 60 – 120 days, but need to be supplemented, especially if you’re growing flowers or vegetables.


  • Liquid Fertilizer-

    Plants in containers use up the available nutrients very quickly, especially when it’s hot and they’re using lots of water. So, you’ll need to use a liquid fertilizer about every 2 weeks- again- organic ones are available. These are formulations you add to water and water into the soil. If you have a lot of pots, you can find hose end units that mix and deliver the fertilizer at the proper rate. Or, just mix in a watering can and give the containers a generous drink.

    The nutrients are delivered directly to the roots of the plant and are easy for the plant to take up.


  • Foliar Spray-

    This last step is an important one. Especially if your plants are stressed or producing lots of fruit or flowers, a foliar spray delivers nutrients right to the leaf where the photosynthesis is taking place. I like the seaweed based products for foliar spraying, but there are many others on the market.

And, if you read last month’s newsletter on Companion Planting, I hope you’ll be inter planting herbs among your vegetables. 


There is so much more to learn about fertilizer, but I hope I’ve at least given you the basics. Everyone has their own favorite types of materials to use, their own methods and timing. What’s important is to find what works for YOU. It’s YOUR garden- listen to and watch your plants. That’s the best way to know if what you’re doing is working. If you’re having problems, then look at making changes.

Otherwise… don’t mess with success!



green line


We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.

-Fred Rogers, television host, songwriter, and author (20 Mar 1928-2003)