What are termed the raw materials from which the universally known
"mixed fertilizers" are made up, are organic or inorganic substances
which contain nitrogen, phosphoric acid or potash in fairly definite
Some of these can be used to advantage by themselves. Those practical
use by the home gardener, I mention. The special uses to which they
are adapted will be mentioned in Part Two, under the vegetables for
which they are valuable.
GROUND BONE is rich in phosphate and lasts a long time; what is called
"raw bone" is the best "Bone dust" or "bone flour" is finely
pulverized; it will produce quick results, but does not last as long as
the coarser forms.
COTTON-SEED MEAL is one of the best nitrogenous fertilizers for garden
crops. It is safer than nitrate of soda in the hands of the
inexperienced gardener, and decays very quickly in the soil.
PERUVIAN GUANO, in the pure form, is now practically out of the market.
Lower grades, less rich in nitrogen especially, are to be had; and also
"fortified" guano, in which chemicals are added to increase the content
of nitrogen. It is good for quick results.
NITRATE OF SODA, when properly handled, frequently produces wonderful
results in the garden, particularly upon quick-growing crops. It is the
richest in nitrogen of any chemical generally used, and a great
stimulant to plant growth. When used alone it is safest to mix with an
equal bulk of light dirt or some other filler. If applied pure, be sure
to observe the following rules or you may burn your plants: (1)
Pulverize all lumps; (2) see that none of it lodges upon the foliage;
(3) never apply when there is moisture upon the plants; (4) apply in
many small doses--say 10 to 20 pounds at a time for 50 x 100 feet of
garden. It should be put on so sparingly as to be barely visible; but
its presence will soon be denoted by the moist spot, looking like a big
rain drop, which each particle of it makes in the dry soil. Nitrate of
soda may also be used safely in solution, at the rate of 1 pound to 12
gallons of water. I describe its use thus at length because I consider
it the most valuable single chemical which the gardener has at command.
MURIATE and SULPHATE OF POTASH are also used by themselves as sources
of potash, but as a general thing it will be best to use them in
combination with other chemicals as described under "Home Mixing."
LIME will be of benefit to most soils. It acts largely as an indirect
fertilizer, helping to release other food elements already in the soil,
but in non-available forms. It should be applied once in three to five
years, at the rate of 75 to 100 bushels per acre, after plowing, and
thoroughly harrowed in. Apply as long before planting as possible, or
in the fall.
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Next: MIXED FERTILIZERS
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