Agricultural fertilizers are a significant source of water pollution. Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution contribute to ocean dead zones in the US. Of course, that doesn’t mean all fertilizer is terrible, just that farms aren’t managing their runoff correctly.
We can change that, and it’s easier to address nitrogen and phosphorus runoff at home. Does garden soil have fertilizer? I’ll walk you through everything you need to know for a beautiful, safe garden.
There are 3 kinds of fertilizers that can be added to garden soil which are Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium. Most garden soils contain these added chemical fertilizers to help plants grow, however not all do. Fertilizer in garden soil blends vary significantly because each plant has unique pH and nutrient requirements based on species.
Does All Garden Soil Contain Fertilizer
Garden soil can contain fertilizer, but not all of it does. Your standard bulk garden soil is made up of sand, natural topsoil, and organic material.
In nature, decomposers break down the organic components and return the nutrients trapped inside to the earth, which is how plants grow.
However, in a private garden, you need more than most natural systems can provide to produce the same landscaped plants each year.
The addition of fertilizer is one way to do this. Fertilizer has been around for centuries in various forms.
Native Americans who lived in coastal areas would plant corn inside fish carcasses to provide the nutrients needed for cultivation in the regions that were too sandy and salty. There are numerous ways to provide for your plants’ needs.
What Kind Of Fertilizer Is In Garden Soil
There are three numbers on the side of a bag of garden soil with fertilizer that represent the three most essential soil additives plants need to survive.
Each number indicates the amount of one of those ingredients. You’ll see combinations like 15-15-15 or 10-5-5.
The first number is always nitrogen (N). Your plants need nitrogen because it is a significant part of chlorophyll, and without chlorophyll, there is no photosynthesis.
When plants photosynthesize sun and nutrients, they create a primary sugar, which feeds the plant.
The second number is phosphate (P2O5). According to Greenway Biotech, “Plants, in particular, need phosphorus fertilizer for normal development and timely maturity. They use it for photosynthesis, storage and transfer of energy, respiration, among various other functions. Without enough supply of phosphorus, plants are unable to complete their production cycle as expected.”
The final number is potash (K2O), a source of potassium. In plants, potassium helps with root growth, drought resistance, and water movement within the plant.
Additionally, it helps with enzyme activation that affects protein, starch and controls adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production.
How Much Fertilizer Is In Garden Soil
The amount of fertilizer in your garden soil is indicated on the bag. However, fertilizer is not forever. Plants will use up these critical nutrients as they grow, blossom, fruit, and create seeds.
To keep having fertilizer in your soil, you will need to remove the existing dirt and replace it each year, which is wasteful, or you’ll have to add fertilizer as it runs out.
I prefer Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Granular Fertilizer from Amazon. Not only is this 4-4-4 fertilizer OMRI listed for organic gardening by USDA, but it also contains Jobe’s Biozomethe proprietary microorganism archaea, which helps break down organic material faster to make it available for your garden.
- Organic granular fertilizer; Fast acting fertilizer for flowers, vegetables, shrubs, trees & plants
- OMRI listed for organic gardening by USDA; Certified organic means no synthetic chemicals
- Contains Jobe’s Biozomethe proprietary microorganism archaea that aggressively breaks down material for faster results
- Jobe’s Biozome improves soil conditions, helps resist disease, insects, and drought during the growing season
- Easy pour bag; Guaranteed analysis: (4-4-4) 1.5 pound resealable bag, (4-4-4) 4 pound bag, (4-4-4) 16 pound bag
Last update on 2023-01-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Benefits Of Fertilizer In Garden Soil
Fertilizer is vital for healthy gardens. There are numerous benefits to using pre-fertilized soil, and it’s important to keep up with your fertilizing schedule based on what your garden needs and what the manufacturer recommends.
The list below gives you the benefits of fertilizer in garden soil:
- Alleviates nutrient loss associated with watering and rain
- It helps plants grow larger with stronger stems
- Higher food production
- More blossoms on flowers, which in turn provide more pollen and nectar for beneficial insects
- Geater drought resistance
- Pest resistance
Do You Need Fertilizer In Your Garden Soil
You do not need premade fertilizer in your garden soil, but it is a lot easier to use than creating your own compost and collecting organic fertilizer (poop).
All plants need nutrients, but you can get them through other channels if you prefer. I recommend using an excellent prefabricated organic fertilizer.
If your garden is dying, and the culprit isn’t insects, mold, improper sun, improper planting, or lack of water, then you need fertilizer.
The fastest way to get healthy nutrients to your failing plants is by providing them with fertilizer. Watch out for pale or yellowing foliage. When plants aren’t producing enough chlorophyll, they get pale, which often indicates a deficiency.
Which Garden Soil Doesn’t Contain Fertilizer
If the bag of garden soil you are looking at lacks the three numbers to indicate nitrogen, phosphate, and potash, then it has no fertilizer.
Intriguingly, many so-called potting soils are technically not made of soil at all. Potting soils are technically “soil-less” mixes that most commonly contain peat moss or coir, vermiculite, and perlite.
You can buy bags that are not garden soil at all. Topsoil, perlite, coir, sand, vermiculite, peat, and other soil ingredients are also available separately.
If you prefer to blend your garden soil, start by figuring out what each bed needs and add different components to create a mix that works best for specific plants.
Helpful Tips To Know About Fertilizer In Garden Soil
Choosing the right soil for your garden beds isn’t merely a matter of walking into a garden center and grabbing any bulk bags you like. You need the right blend of fertilizer if you’re going to use it at all.
Here are more helpful tips to know about fertilizer in garden soil.
- It is essential to learn about the nutrient needs of each plant in your garden. If you offer your flowers the same fertilizer blend you use on tomatoes, pine trees, and lettuce, it’s likely one or more won’t thrive.
- Some plants steal each other’s fertilizer or expel nutrients that can poison one another. Good companion planting is as vital as having the right nutrients and sunlight if you want your garden to grow green and healthy.
- Composting and vermiculture are superb ways to provide soil nutrients. Unfortunately, not all natural techniques work equally for all plants. For example, powdered eggshells add calcium to the soil, but too much can harm some plants.
Not all garden soil has fertilizer, but it’s a good idea to start your beds with a blend that does for most gardeners.
By checking the needs of each type of plant, you can plan beds that work well together and either need the same nutrients or help provide each other with them.
Don’t forget to adjust your soil pH to match. You can buy premade soil and add fertilizer as plants grow or blend unique soils from different beneficial ingredients like sand and coir for drainage.
If this is your first garden, careful planning, and good fertilizer can help you keep it beautiful for decades to come.