Fertilizing Seedlings and a Simple Explanation of N-P-K

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"When should I fertilize my seedlings?"

I begin to fertilize my seedlings a few days after I transplant them into the ground. I intially give them a very weak solution of fertilizer.....that's no more than 25% percent strength solution

"Why is the fertilizer applied at a weaker rate?"

Plant seedlings are baby plants. We don't feed our own newborn babies steak and potatoes, they get milk which is easier for them to digest. A weak fertilizer solution is easy for the seedlings to utilize, it won't burn their delicate roots.

"How do I make the solution 25% strength?"

That's easy to do. Prepare your favorite liquid plant food at full strength.

If it makes a gallon of liquid food pour off a quart (or four measuring cups) of it into a separate and empty gallon container....this is a great way to recycle a cleaned and washed out plastic gallon-sized milk jug. Add another three quarts of water to it and that will make a gallon of 25% strength liquid plant food.

Here's the forumula:

1 quart of full strength liquid plant food

3 quarts of water

Mix the plant food and water in a clean container.

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If you prepare a quart of full strength plant food this is the formula:

1 cup of full strength liquid plant food

3 cups of water

Mix the plant food and water in a clean container.

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"How do I apply the fertilizer?"

Give your seedlings a drink with the hose or sprinkler, let them get a good soaking. Don't water your seedlings with a gush of water straight from the end of the hose, you might splash them out of the ground, use an attachment that will give an easy flow of water...like a sprinkler or a shower nozzle. After giving them a drink of plain water give each seedling about a tablespoon of the 25% solution. It's okay if you give them more than that because you've splashed with the jug, it's still just a 25% strength solution.

"When can I increase the percentage of food I give the seedlings?

About every two weeks give them a higher percentage of food...go to a 33% strength the next feeding, 50% strength after that, and then 75% strength, and then they can get full strength from then on. Here are the other formulas.

For 33% strength plant food:

1 part full strength plant food

2 parts water

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For 50% strength plant food:

1 part full strength plant food

1 part water

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For 75% strength plant food:

3 parts full strength plant food

1 part water

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"What is N-P-K?"

N-P-K is the set of three numbers that you see on containers of plant food.
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"What do they mean?"

Those numbers reflect the percentage of the particular nutrient weight per pound of plant food.
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"What do they stand for and what do they do?"

"N" stands for Nitrogen.

Nitrogen is the first number. Nitrogen promotes plant growth above the ground. With plenty of nitrogen a plant will grow quickly and have rich green foliage.

"P" stands for Phosphorus.

Phosphorus is the second number. Phosphorus is beneficial for healthy growth. It helps a plant grow strong roots, it helps with flower production, and it helps make plants stronger to resist diseases.

"K" stands for Potassium.

Potassium is the third number. Potassium is neccesary for growing strong plants. It helps makes them stronger to resist disease, it helps to make them less susceptible to damage from the cold, and it helps protect them from excessive moisture loss during dry spells.

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