In addition to the return of the robins, another sure sign of spring are the fertilizer promotions and fliers everywhere.
Fertilizers and pest controls can be useful tools but you really need to think about what you're trying to accomplish before making a purchase. Different crops have different fertilizer needs and timing requirements.
A good example is home lawn care. Various companies have come up with programs of easy steps for you to follow. It's tempting to buy into the whole program which includes fertilizers, weed killers and insecticides whether or not you actually need to use all those products. Unfortunately, it's often cheaper to buy the whole set of products rather than to buy individually the few you may actually need.
The insecticides in these 'step' programs target lawn pests we don't have a problem with and miss the ones, grubs, that many people are bothered with locally. And, if grubs or other insects aren't bothering your lawn, why treat for them?
When it comes to weed killers, why use them if you don't have a weed problem? And if you do have a weed problem, stop and determine what type of weed you have and then decide what course of action is the best one for you to take. Different weeds such as crabgrass and dandelions are managed quite differently from each other and there may be some things you can do without pesticides that will reduce the pressure from the weeds.
Most lawns benefit from nitrogen fertilizer. When applied at the proper rates and times nitrogen fertilizer can be an environmentally friendly way to manage your lawn and prevent many problems. The fertilizers in the 'step' programs usually have another product mixed with them, such as a weed killer or insecticide. Why put that extra poison down if it's not even necessary? For research based information, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Amy Ivy is Executive Director with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County 561-7450, Essex County 962-4810, Franklin County 483-7403. Visit our local Web site at http://ecgardening.cce.cornell.edu or email your question to askMG@cornell.edu