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Is using fertilizers on fruit farming overrated ??

Hello from Somalia. One thing i noticed about gardening forums is the obsession about fertilizers. My friend hasn't used any fertilzers on the papaya tree  and watermelons you can see from the pictures, which are in his backyard. He said that they accidentally grew from the left over seeds. He only watered them once in a while. And the soil is kind of sandy. So is using fertilizers overrated or does Africa have more fertile soil naturally compared to NA or Europe ?

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  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,160

    I think fertilizers are over-rated and lead to soft growth and susceptibility to disease and pests.

    we are over-reliant on artificial feeding followed by chemical 'treatments' for problems leading to destruction of wildlife and eco-systems

  •  Good to hear from someone in your part of the world! We are mostly UK based here, but have some regular posters in Europe, one or two in the Americas and  just one in Australia and one in South Africa.

    There are other things to consider too.

    In the UK, our moist climate means that weeds grow easily and often large on untended ground. Then in winter they die back providing organic matter to the soil, feeding bacteria and micro-organisms.

    In Somalia, as in your pic, higher temperatures and lower rainfall will limit weed growth, and if plants die through drought they may give back less to the soil. However the mineral content is possibly higher, as it gets less depleted. The soil micro biome will function rather differently from the UK ones in ways I can only guess at. Perhaps fungal diseases are more prevalent here than there because of the drier conditions, there will be different pests and a somewhat different bacterial population.

    The UK climate, being temperate, means we can grow plants from almost anywhere in the world and  this often tempts us gardeners to try to grow things about which we know little in terms of ther needs and care. If things go wrong then the local garden centre will have shelves and shelves of chemicals to kill  pests and diseases and boost plant growth, all in the name of multi-national business profits.I suspect this is not so much the case in Somalia, though no doubt agriculture will be targeted.

    If you grow plants suited to your conditions and are able to provide enough water, sun/shade etc, then you don't need to add chemical fertilisers. I use them only occasionally for potted plants in the house or greenhouse. The garden plants get rotted animal manure and home-made compost, and I have started to make my own liquid feeds from nettles and comfrey, as I don't like supporting the chemical giants even in a small way!

    Your sandy soils would probably benefit from some additional organic matter though, if you were able to provide it, as it would help with water retention and might help some plants grow even betterimage

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