How to select a good organic fertilizer
This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Anonymous 5 years, 3 months ago.
April 13, 2011 at 10:55 pm #29142
There are many choices in the garden stores for organic fertilizers for perennials. Would you recommend granular or liquid? And then, which brands? One option I found was fish fertilizer but the ratio is 5:1:1 and I believe that Margaret recommends that the middle number be the highest. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.April 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm #29675
Here is a great basic post on fertilizers to get you started.
I really like the Epsoma brand fertilizers. They are easy to find – many of them are available in Home Depot and Lowes, and as well as the basics like bonemeal, bloodmeal, and greensand, there is a mix (which they call ‘tone’ ie. Holly-tone, Plant-tone) for many different types of plants. These fertilizers also contain beneficial micro-organisms which can be a real boon if your soil is poor in these (sometimes due to over feeding with synthetic fertilizers- the longterm fix is compost, compost, compost and mulch!.)
You should adjust the numbers to suit what you are growing. The middle number refers to phosphorus. This nutrient is very important for root growth and flowers, consequently it should be high in fertilizers meant for annual flowers or bulbs. Bone meal is a good organic source of phosphorus, so if you are growing bulbs or annuals and your fertilizer does not have a high middle number, you can add a little bonemeal to your plantings.
One of the advantages of organic fertilizers such as bone meal is that they need to be digested by the soil before they are available for the plants to use, this means they are slower acting and released steadily over a long period of time making them fairly fool-proof for mixing your own. Unlike with synthetic fertilizers it is difficult to ‘overdue it.’ The Espoma website has some good basic information about organic and synthetic fertilizers. Sorry for the long post, but this is a fascinating subject. It would be good to hear what some other people have used.April 25, 2011 at 11:52 am #29678
RE: the higher middle number, as Leslie says, that is what was/is often called a “root and bloom” formula, emphasizing Phosphorus (the middle # in the N-P-K ration on the label). For flowering/fruiting plants a high N number can produce lots of foliageat the expense of flowers/fruit — so perhaps I was talking about a situation where something didn’t bloom or set fruit?
I have also been interested to see lately that the wonderful SafeLawns.org has a resources list that includes many of its organic sponsors and others — and Espoma is included as well as East Coast Organics and others. Have a look at their list:
And my post on fertilizer choices, and why to select organic and so on with lots of good links:
The Organic Consumers Association is also a good place to root around for information about sources etc.:June 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm #29735
Is greensand something to use generally, or do some plants not like it? I’ve dug some in around my roses, but I don’t know which other plants to give it to… and I only have a little bitty bag right now, and I seem to recall reading somewhere that you should go easy with it.June 21, 2011 at 1:54 am #29741
Greensand is great to use generally. It is usually recommended to be applied at 2-4 pounds per 100sq.ft. It is a valuable soil conditioner as well as a slow release source of Potash (K) and many trace minerals. When added to clay it loosens the soil and when added to sand it improves the water holding capacity of the soil. This is because while it flows like sand, it holds a lot of water. Because it makes many minerals available it will improve the microbial life of the soil as well.
However, it will raise the pH of the soil slightly, so for acid loving plants or soil that is already very alkaline you should add sulfur at the same time. Perhaps this is why you read that it is recommended to go easy with it.
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