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Fertilizers for vegetables
Those who are lucky enough to have the place to set up a home vegetable garden and the patience and time to take care of it know that to have good quality vegetables the first attention must be devoted to the type of soil and its fertilization.
The best choice for respecting the soil and its balance at the same time and obtaining good quality products is to opt for natural products, avoiding chemical fertilizers, which are harmful because they are polluting and unhealthy for those who eat the products of the earth.
The most natural fertilizer can also be produced autonomously using the natural waste from the table and the lawn, obtaining compost using a recycling process.
How to make compost
To produce compost you can use food waste (fruit and vegetable waste and skins, food scraps with the exception of fish and meat leftovers), plant residues (such as dry leaves, hedge pruning, grass cut from the lawn) and other biodegradable materials such as unpainted wood, cardboard and untreated paper.
You can produce compost in a natural tank carved into the ground or buy a container called composter or composter, more practical and manageable but suitable only for small quantities. The process is simple: food and agricultural waste is set aside in the composter and kept warm, moist and aerated so that it ferments under the action of microorganisms, thus obtaining an excellent quality organic fertilizer after at least six months of the process.
The compost can be produced throughout the year, being careful to mix the different types of material used to ferment, during the fermentation period it is advisable to periodically turn it both to mix it and make it more homogeneous, and to revitalize the microorganisms with new oxygen.
The production of compost, in particular if carried out in a natural tank on the ground, also involves the production of unpleasant odors, but there are specific products on the market that can accelerate fermentation by limiting the unpleasant odors of the composting.
Features and benefits
Manure, fresh manure, can also be used to fertilize the soil, but compost has a huge advantage that makes it preferable: even if producing it is laborious, it is a better fertilizer as it is more concentrated, in fact it loses about half of its weight in water during fermentation, moreover, it is homogeneous, easy to manage when fertilizing the soil and it is used in smaller quantities than manure because it is much more concentrated and its effect lasts longer. Naturally, there are also on the market many varieties of industrial fertilizers, both chemical and natural, for those who do not have manure available and did not have the possibility of producing compost. Among the natural fertilizers it is preferable to use dehydrated manure in the form of powder or pellet, which maintains its natural properties intact but is lighter to transport and easy to dose. These fertilizers are a natural tonic for the earth and do not alter its biological balance, a fact that occurs instead following the continuous use of chemical fertilizers, which make the soil refractory to naturally replenish its fertility. The best solution therefore always remains natural fertilizers, even better if moist, as they not only give the soil the elements it needs, but leave it soft, easy to work, soft and with a good drainage capacity that reduces the risk of stagnation rainwater and the consequent risk of root rot of vegetables.
How and when to fertilize the garden
Fertilization is used to restore the nutrients that vegetables need to grow, so it is an operation that is carried out consistently, both before sowing or inside the plants, and during cultivation.
Plant fertilization is the one that is used on the entire area of the garden, it is practiced towards the end of winter and is used to supply the generic fertilizing components. You have to dig the soil (manually or with a motor hoe) to a depth of about half a meter proceeding in parallel rows, as one row spades the fertilizer or manure is distributed on the bottom of the dig row and covered with the dig earth in the next row. Once the fertilizer layer is covered, the soil can be leveled, the larger clods chopped up and the soil is left to settle, so as to leave the soil time to absorb the nutrients from the fertilizer. To promote absorption it is also possible to anticipate the period of planting fertilization in the autumn so as to let the soil rest longer, compatibly with the harvest time of the vegetables cultivated in the land in question.
During the rest of the year, except for the hottest summer months, it is necessary to proceed with periodic fertilization of the individual cultivation areas, intervening once or twice a month with liquid fertilizer to be added where the vegetables are housed. The best method is to distribute the fertilizer by diluting it in the water used to irrigate the vegetables, preferring if possible the use of rainwater collected on rainy days in large barrels.
Another phase of fertilization is the winter one, not always necessary, with which a sort of mulching can be carried out by laying some fresh fertilizer, such as manure, at the base of the seedlings that are being cultivated and covering it with an additional layer of soil: in this way the plant and its roots will be protected from the cold and with the rains the fertilizer will melt, penetrating the soil and nourishing the vegetables.