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Upper Midwest Gardening: Natural fertilizers

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Forum: Upper Midwest GardeningReplies: 12, Views: 69
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CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 5, 2010
8:41 AM

Post #8020153

Asking this question here since fertilizers are a little more regional in availability.
With commercial fertilizers (at least the lawn type) reducing the amount of phosphorus in them, has anyone here looked into more natural sources? I'd prefer not buy any more Miracle Grow products and try to go a more natural route. So of course that means improving the nutrient content of the soil itself (along with perhaps some compost tea). Is there an affordable, available alternative?
midwest_tyro
Mount Prospect, IL
(Zone 5b)

August 5, 2010
8:50 AM

Post #8020170

Bone meal is the traditional amendment for adding phosphorus to soil. It's pretty cheap.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 6, 2010
9:15 AM

Post #8022700

midwest - Thanks for that suggestion!
grannymarsh
Marquette, MI
(Zone 5a)

August 17, 2010
10:07 AM

Post #8045282

A word of caution regarding bonemeal; critters will dig, looking for the bones. My dog did this. again &. again.
And again.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 17, 2010
12:34 PM

Post #8045572

Ooooh - never thought of that. I don't have pets but we do have a multitude of raccoons.
sherriseden
Des Plaines, IL
(Zone 5b)

August 17, 2010
2:37 PM

Post #8045758

Cindy, chances are you have an adequate or even excess amount of phosphorous. I tested my soil and found that it had an excess of phosphorous and very low nitrogen. I asked a regional master gardener and she said, "That's our clay soil for you; we have lots of minerals but not a lot of nitrogen". If you want to add nitrogen naturally, blood meal is good.

I did two types of tests: professional a couple of years ago, and a little kit for about $30 this year. The little kit backed up the professional test results, so I think they're pretty accurate!
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 18, 2010
8:52 AM

Post #8047357

I'm ashamed to admit but I've never had a "real" soil test done. Which kit did you use?
sherriseden
Des Plaines, IL
(Zone 5b)

August 18, 2010
12:53 PM

Post #8047755

It's called Rapitest soil test kit - you can get it at most garden centers, KMart, etc. It gives you test capsules for NPK and PH. It's pretty accurate and I think you get about 5 capsules, so you can test multiple sites. Good luck!

P.S. The professional test was about 10 years ago from Mowers in Illinois, but they don't do soil testing anymore.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 18, 2010
5:28 PM

Post #8048276

I know I should send a sample off to the Purdue extension but just never think about it or, if I do, don't get around to it.
Thanks for the info!
sherriseden
Des Plaines, IL
(Zone 5b)

August 18, 2010
5:38 PM

Post #8048308

You're welcome. It's a bit expensive, but in the long run, could save you some bucks because you won't buy what you don't really need!
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 19, 2010
7:15 AM

Post #8049269

I've been using super phosphate for the past year to boost the blooming potential of perennials and hydrangeas but now I'm feeling guilty about it.
sherriseden
Des Plaines, IL
(Zone 5b)

August 19, 2010
11:24 AM

Post #8049698

Oh, Cindy - don't feel guilty! Maybe in your case they need the phosphorous! Your soil could be lots more sandy than ours in which case you may need a lot of everything. Please don't listen just to me - I'm not an expert, just a believer in testing!
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 19, 2010
2:51 PM

Post #8050094

Oh - sandy would be heaven. I have fine silt on top of clay. I've amended all of the beds over the years but it has to be done every several years it seems.

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