You know macronutrients from the back of fertilizer packages: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the N, P, K (respectively) letters on the package. Then there’s calcium, magnesium and sulfur. These six get used up very quickly in soil – especially Southwest desert soil – and need to be replaced regularly. Micronutrients are key to plant growth and are needed in smaller doses. They include iron, zinc, boron, chlorine, copper, molybdenum and manganese. A good balance of all these elements will ensure a successful garden, just make sure you use them regularly. A single use will get your great looking plants – for about two weeks.

So here are the details on our favorite FoxFarm products:

FoxFarm Original Planting mix – This stuff is great. A premium organic planting mix to work into the soil every time you plant. It’s got everything to get your garden off to a good start: earthworm castings, bat guano, Norwegian kelp meal, composted forest humus, sphagnum peat moss, and more. This special mix also helps hold moisture in the soil, which keeps plants hydrated and growing. We like this for starting seeds, too.

Ocean Forest Soil – Perfect right out of the bag. Ph adjusted for optimum fertilizer uptake, but you won’t need it for a few weeks because this bag of soil is packed with earthworm castings, bat guano, fish and crab meal.

Happy Frog Potting Soil – Great for pots and container gardens. Whether you’re growing a ficus in the dining room, a geranium on the patio, or a lemon tree on the deck, use this soil full strength in containers.

Happy Frog Soil Conditioner – The FoxFarm folks like to say “Don’t treat your soil like dirt.” That’s because they blend pH-balanced forest humus, earthworm castings, and bat guano, microbes that stimulate root development and humic acid to help increase the uptake of micronutrients. FoxFarm recommends refreshing roses by working a 3-inch layer of soil conditioner into the base of plants twice a year. It’s also great on a lawn and a perfect compost-like addition to raised beds.

Big Bloom Liquid Plant Food (0.01-0.3-0.7) – We love this gentle odorless, liquid fertilizer that’s full of vitamins, amino acids, natural growth hormones, enzymes, and beneficial organic microbes. You’ll get a balanced range of nutrients from Big Bloom. Big Bloom is good for all flowering and fruiting plants, and it’s safe enough to use every time you water. If you’ve got a struggling plant, FoxFarm suggests a root drench of Big Bloom will bring it back to life.

Marine Cuisine (10-7-7) – The benefits of ocean materials are well-known to growers and Marine Cuisine packs lots of seafood into an all-purpose fertilizer.  Crab meal, shrimp meal, seabird guano, and kelp, with low-sodium mineral plant foods will offer plants a quick boost as well as time-released nutrition. Amy throws it under her Lisbon lemon tree a few times a year and is never disappointed.

Peace of Mind® Tomato & Vegetable Organic Fertilizer (7-4-5) – Feeding plants is crucial to garden success in the desert, and this Tomato & Vegetable Organic fertilizer is popular with our veggie growing customers. It’s the perfect food for your food.

Sledgehammer – This is a new FoxFarm product designed to remove excess fertilizer buildup (mostly concentrated mineral salts) from around your plants. That’s a big problem in our desert soil. Sledgehammer is great in established gardens, containers and even hydroponics. Best of all you don’t have to interrupt your plant feeding schedules to use this rinse.

A note about nitrogen: Be careful with high nitrogen fertilizers. They really only belong on lawns and will burn and or kill most everything else. Lawns need high nitrogen (N) for their green color, a bit of phosphorous (P) for root development and even less potassium (K) for general health.