6 Midsummer Fertilizers for Gardens & Containers

Plants use many soil nutrients as summer marches on. Here are some favorite midsummer fertilizers to keep the soil from becoming depleted.

by Jessica Walliser
PHOTO: Jessica Walliser

Midsummer means it’s time to focus on maintaining the health and production of your garden, regardless of whether you grow in the ground or in containers. Aside from making sure your plants receive adequate irrigation during the hot summer months, the most important step in summer garden maintenance is fertilization. As your plants continue to produce flowers and fruits, the soil might become depleted of certain nutrients. It’s increasingly critical as the season marches on to make sure those nutrients are replaced. These 6 midsummer fertilizers are great for giving your plants the extra boost of nutrition they need to perform their best.

1. Fish Emulsions & Hydroslates

Liquid fertilizers, like fish emulsions and fish hydroslates, provide nutrients quickly as they’re absorbed through both the roots and the foliage, making them a great choice for midsummer fertilizers. These water soluble fertilizers are added with irrigation water and have a very low risk of burn. Most contain not just macro-nutrients, but tons of micro-nutrients, trace elements and amino acids.

2. Kelp Emulsion or Liquid Seaweed

These liquid fertilizers are created by processing sea kelp or seaweed and extracting their nutrients for plant use. Not only do they supply minerals and amino acids, but they also supply many plant hormones known to aid in shoot and root growth, and improve soil structure. Liquid kelp might also improve drought resistance and increase yields.

3. Complete Granular Fertilizers

There are dozens of different brands available, but organic versions use a combination of plant derivatives, manures, animal by-products and minerals to supply nutrients to your plants. “Complete” means they contain some amount of each of the three macro-nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Some are made for specific crops, like tomatoes, flowers or trees, but all are good midsummer fertilizers for the garden when used according to label instructions.

4. Granular Rose Fertilizers

If you grow roses on your farm, your stock of midsummer fertilizers must include granular, rose-specific fertilizers. Designed with a specific balance of plant nutrients to encourage bloom production and vigorous shoot growth, these granular fertilizers are added to the soil around roses in midsummer to stimulate future waves of blooms. However, care should be taken to stop applying them as soon as August arrives. Late season fertilization of roses isn’t recommended because it encourages new growth that might not have time to harden off before fall’s first frosts arrive.

5. Compost Tea

A product that’s getting a lot of attention these days, compost tea nurtures beneficial soil life and can suppress certain plant diseases. But, the compost tea of old that was created simply by steeping compost in water might not be as good as you think. Created by anaerobic conditions in the bucket, this type of compost tea isn’t ideal. Instead, today’s compost teas are aerated and produced under aerobic conditions that create a great nutrient source for plants as well as boosting scores of beneficial soil bacterial.

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6. Compost

It’s always a good time to add compost to the garden, so compost deserves a place on every list of midsummer fertilizers. Adding an inch or two of compost to garden beds after harvesting spring crops or summer garlic adds more nutrients to the soil and helps rejuvenate tired summer soil prior to planting a secondary crop. You can also use it as a top-dressing in perennial beds and annual plantings.

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