Last week, I overfertilized my garden. I realized about 24 hours after the fact. It just hit me and my heart started going for a little jog.
In my case, it was not the usual N-P-K chemical fertilizer that is often the culprit, but Borax, which I needed for the boron.
Of course, one doesn’t go applying boron willy-nilly, but I
have had a deficiency in my soil. Watch the video below to see the results, and remember, organic fertilizers are not all benign.
I thought I would leave you with a few tips in case you ever find you’ve overfertilized your garden, too.
Overfertilized Garden Tips
- If you’ve overfertilized, irrigate heavily. That’s the general advice and it makes sense to me that it would be a good idea to wash some of the fertilizer out of the root zone, although I suppose it could be possible that watering would just spread the excess throughout the root zone, right? But still, I watered like crazy.
- Be careful of listening to advice you read on gardening forums. They often make additional fertilizer recommendations to counteract the fertilizer you applied. In some cases, the advice may be good, but in many cases it’s not. The soil is more complicated than just throwing on one thing to balance out another thing.
- That being said, consult a good soil lab and they may some good advice about what to do, including adding a specific nutrient to tie up the toxic nutrient(s) in your overfertilized soil. I actually didn’t call the guys at my lab because I’ve been bothering them with too many questions lately, but I really should have. In this case, I don’t know what they would have said because boron is just a little trace mineral that doesn’t get as much attention as the others, but it would have been a good idea. Actually, I’ll email them right now and see what they say – should have done that in the first place. I’ll update this if they have something to add. Update: They said basically what I did: humates, microbes (compost tea/EM), fish/kelp, calcitic lime, calcium nitrate.
- If possible, apply organic matter and/or a microbial inoculant such as compost tea or effective microorganisms (EM). Perhaps the microbes will do something with the excess, tying it up in their bodies or even biologically transmuting it into something else. Stranger things have happened. Also, if you have humates, they are good at tying up toxins, so they may help out.
- When I learned how to timberframe, I learned the adage “measure twice, cut once”. The same goes for fertilizing. Double check the instructions on the label or on the soil test before you begin. It’s easy to overfertilize if you don’t know how much you should be applying. You’ll usually need less than you think.
- Don’t fertilize with specific nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium or whatever else unless you know you need it. That means getting a soil test done – not a home test kit and not the local soil lab, but a quality lab (I’ll talk about that another time). In this case, I had a test, but I just made a stupid-Philip mistake, and in my case, it was really not vital that I apply boron so I should have just left good enough alone.
- Be careful with organic fertilizers, too. I’ve overfertilized plant leaves before with too much liquid fish and too much sea minerals. Too much EM can cause problems as well.
Any other overfertilization tips you would add in here? Any questions for me? Let me know below.