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Most vegetables have grown by the end of August and are only maturing. Since they no longer grow in size and size, but at best change their color or consistency, they no longer need fertilizer. The so-called autumn vegetables are different: Above all, the various types of cabbage, but also beetroot, Swiss chard, celery, leeks and late-sown carrots continue to grow at lower temperatures and are usually ripe for harvest in October. In order for these plants to get another boost of growth at the end of the season, you should re-fertilize them from mid-August to early September. This is particularly true for cabbage, celery and leeks, as these autumn vegetables have a particularly high nutritional requirement as so-called heavy-eaters. In addition, they need most nutrients until the end of their growth cycle. The phenomenon is particularly pronounced in celeriac and carrots: they absorb more than two-thirds of the total nutrients needed in the last two months before the start of the harvest. Some types of cabbage, such as broccoli and leek, deprive the soil of around one-third of the nutrient requirement during the last four to six weeks of its growth phase.
Late nitrogen fertilization for the autumn vegetables
Anyone who supplies the autumn vegetables with horny shavings by the beginning of the summer or has incorporated well-rotted cow dung into the soil during bed preparation can generally refrain from adding fertilizer in autumn, since both fertilizers release the nitrogen contained in them slowly and evenly throughout the entire season,
As a follow-up to the end of the season, these autumn vegetables need above all nitrogen, which should be available for the plants as soon as possible. Although mineral fertilizers fulfill the second requirement, they contain not only nitrogen but also phosphate and potassium. They are not recommended because both nutrients are already abundant in most garden soils anyway.
Follow-up with horn meal
Horn meal is an organic fertilizer with about ten to twelve percent nitrogen content, which decomposes very quickly due to its fine grain in the soil. It is therefore ideal for the late fertilization of autumn vegetables. All vegetables that remain on the bed for at least four weeks should be supplied with about 50 grams of cornmeal per square meter of bedding. Work the fertilizer equally flat in the soil so that it is decomposed by the soil organisms as quickly as possible. Autumn vegetables such as celery, kale or Brussels sprouts take at least six weeks to mature. It should therefore be fertilized again with about 80 grams of horn meal per square meter.
Stinging nettle is a fast-acting nitrogen and potash fertilizer
By the way: One of the best organic alternatives for horn meal is nettle. It is not quite as nitrogen-rich, but acts very fast and is best applied at weekly intervals until harvest. Per square meter you need about half a liter, which is diluted 1: 5 with water. Pour the diluted manure directly onto the ground with a watering can, taking care not to wet the plants.