Md. Farmers Offer Spring Fertilizer Tips to Backyard Gardeners

ANNAPOLIS (April 23, 2010)—Spring is in full bloom and now is the time to plan for your gardens. Maryland farmers have initiated a homeowner education campaign, “Take it from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay” to help gardeners by offering fertilizer tips and online resources available at The campaign highlights the importance of soil testing and using fertilizers wisely for healthier gardens and lawns this growing season and a cleaner Chesapeake Bay. Additional topics include trying pesticide alternatives and composting, controlling soil erosion and rainwater runoff, and conserving water.

“Farmers are the first stewards of the land and they know that nutrients are essential for healthy crop and plant growth. They also know that over-applying fertilizers is not good for plants or the environment,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Many routine farm-based conservation measures can easily be adapted to backyard lawn care and gardens. With soil testing, rainwater management, and appropriate plantings along with equipment maintenance, homeowners can reduce stormwater runoff while producing beautiful, thriving, Bay-friendly yards.”

Farmers use soil tests to determine the precise amount and type of fertilizer needed for a healthy crop to help prevent excess nutrients from polluting waterways. Homeowners should test new lawns after grading, but before seeding; vegetable gardens, every year; and established lawns, landscape plants and perennial gardens every three years. Apply only the nutrients needed according to the soil test results and never exceed the recommended rate. Be careful not to spread fertilizer on sidewalks and driveways and keep in mind that fall is the best time of year to fertilize lawns.

Homeowners and gardeners can visit to download the informational brochures, listen to the audio pieces, find a list of soil test laboratories and link to additional resources. They can also call the University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center toll-free 1-800-342-2507 (outside Maryland 410-531-5573) from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. to speak with a Certified Professional Horticulturist about easy-to-follow, Bay-friendly suggestions for their lawns and gardens.

Take it from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay was developed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center, the Maryland Sea Grant along with Maryland farmers through an agricultural awareness group. The program was made possible through grant funding that supports the implementation of the Statewide Plan for Agricultural Policy and Resource Management.

Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture

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