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How Can Foliar Feeding and Side Dressing Help Your Garden Grow?

foliar feedingIf you want better growth from your plants, two great plant growth enhancement techniques are side dressing and foliar feeding. Side dressing is the practice of adding nutrients around the base of plants after they have sprouted and begun to grow. Foliar feeding is the practice of spraying nutrients directly onto the leaves of plants, which are then absorbed through the plants’ stomata, the portion of the leaf that can absorb water and nutrients. Read on to learn how to use each method for your decorative garden, vegetable garden, trees and indoor plants.

Side dressing is best done when the plant has established itself and its growth is progressing. There are a variety of superb natural products that can be used for this purpose. Microp will contribute a good quantity of nitrogen and polysaccharides as will Micro-Gro Plus, our liquid biofertilizer and Seaweed Extract, a water soluble seaweed product. You can also use Dynaweed, which contains 10% nitrogen in a slow-release form. After you have selected your product, place it around the base of the plant 2-3 inches away and then gently rake or hoe it into the soil (follow package directions).

If you are side dressing rows, you can scrape a small depression into the soil in a line going down the row, two to three inches from the base of the plants and then sprinkle in the chosen product. If you are side dressing individual plants or trees, you can make a circular depression around the plant, staying two to three inches from the base and sprinkle in the product. After applying it and mixing it into the soil, gently water to help the product begin to move downward toward the roots of the plant. The exudates from these products will infiltrate down to the plant’s root system which will happily uptake a new influx of beneficial plant nutrients.

Foliar feeding is done by spraying nutrients onto the leaves of plants. On both the top and bottom of leaves are specialized cells called stomata that can expand and contract depending on the levels of moisture and heat that are available. When a plant senses that a lot of water could be lost through evaporation, the stomata fill with water which closes them off to prevent evaporation. When the plant senses that there is sufficient moisture or that the air is cool enough to prevent evaporation, the stomata relax by releasing the water they hold, and they can then absorb new moisture and nutrients.

Due to how the stomata cells work, the best time for foliar feeding is early in the morning or after it cools off in the late afternoon or evening. Mix nutrients with water according to package directions and then spray them on the plant. Micro-Gro Plus is already in a liquid form which makes it simple to spray. Seaweed Extract can be blended with water and then sprayed.

Foliar feeding can be done with any kind of plant, including grass. If spraying grass, because of the large surface area, it is best to do it as late in the day as possible, when evaporation is a minimal risk. Usually 7 or 8 o’clock at night will suffice.

Depending on the size of the area and number of plants to be fed, you can choose either side dressing or foliar feeding, or, in some cases, both. As long as you are using natural products, there is no danger of overfeeding the plants. If you use synthetic fertilizers, you have to be careful of nitrogen burn, which can kill plants. And you have to be especially careful not to get the fertilizer directly on the plant, which means no foliar feeding and very careful application for side dressing. But with American Natural Product’s plant and soil enhancements, you don’t need to be cautious because natural products don’t bother plants and they uptake exactly what they need.

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