How to fertilize Peppermint Plants
Peppermint is a very demanding crop in terms of nutrients. The plant needs high rates of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium in order to produce high yields for 4-5 years. Nitrogen encourages rapid growth between cuts, while Potassium strengthens the plant against mint rust and other diseases. As it happens in every other crop, there can’t be a universal fertilization scheme, because every field is different and has different needs. Performing soil analysis once a year is extremely important in order to diagnose nutrient deficiencies and take corrective actions.
A common fertilizer scheme applied by many conventional farmers involves adding 1400 lbs. (635 kg) of N-P-K 20-20-20 per hectare every year (1 hectare = 2,47 acres = 10.000m2). Normally, this quantity is split in 6 or 7 applications, with the first starting early spring and the last applied 10 days before the last harvesting. However, these are just common patterns that should not be followed without making your own research. Every field is different and has different needs.
Applying soil or water soluble fertilizers between the two or three harvesting sessions is necessary. In this way, the plants will be encouraged to regenerate quickly and produce enough plant material for the next cut, which will take place about 45 days later. As a rule of thumb, fertilizer quantities must be low immediately after each harvest and grow gradually according to plant’s growth. Water soluble fertilizers are often applied in peppermint cultivation, through drip or sprinkler irrigation.
Organic peppermint growers often add 30-40 tons of well-rotted cattle or poultry manure per hectare and plow well before they plant the young rootstocks. Then, every year they add 15-20 tons of manure per hectare throughout the growing season. They cultivate lightly and irrigate well after every manure application. Slow release water soluble organic fertilizers are also common. Growing organic peppermint is not easy at all. It requires extensive research and sampling, because the origin and quality of manure has been reported to have great effect on the quality of essential oil. Read more on organic peppermint fertilization and the effect of the type of manure to the essential oil.
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Peppermint Fertilizer Requirements
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