The structure, fertility, drainage and acidity (pH) of your soil all have an impact on the health of the plants. Knowing what type of soil you have and how to improve it will help you to create the best growing environment.
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Good soil preparation prior to planting should supply plants with adequate nutrients, but for newly cultivated or poor soil, it may be necessary to apply a top-dressing of fertilizer while plants are growing. Fertilizers contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in various ratios, so check the products available and choose one that suits your needs. Wear gloves when handling fertilizers and apply them at the recommended rate-excess nutrients can be harmful to plants. Scatter fertilizer evenly over the rooting area of the crop and avoid dropping any on the leaves because it could scorch them. Incorporate into the soil surface using a push hoe.
Excerpted from Simple Steps: Vegetable Gardening
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