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Organic Gardening: Furtilizer Advice Request

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Forum: Organic GardeningReplies: 4, Views: 7
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San Diego, CA
(Zone 10b)

July 18, 2005
9:00 PM

Post #1632486


Since everyone has been so knowledgable here, can anyone give me advice on furtilizers? I have quite an assortment, and it's pretty confusing.

This is what I've got going so far:

"Gro Power Plus 5-3-1" for general furtilizing,

"Gro Power Palm and Tropical 9-3-9" for a couple of king palms and pygmy date palms,

"Vigoro Citris and Avocado 10-4-10" for a minneola tangelo citris tree.

"Bayer Rose and Flower 12-18-6" with systemic pesticide for a few plants with tricky spider mite issues to use in addition to neem oil. Is it ok to use this if I've got the Gro Power Plus already in the soil?

My landscaper also reccommended to get Bone Meal, but I forgot to write down what they said it was for - any ideas? The brand was "Bandini Bone Meal 1-11-0".

Lastly, I have some old furtilizers: "Perma Gro Super Bloom 12-55-6", and "Miracle Grow Rose 18-24-16". Would these be of any use, or should I stick with what I have? I do have one small tea rose.

I hope that wasn't too much of a loaded question, but it's been one of the biggest mysteries I've faced. Everyone seems to have a different opionion!

Thanks for helping me along on my learning curve.. :)

(Zone 2b)

July 20, 2005
8:52 PM

Post #1637093

The first number stands for percentage nitrogen, the second for phosphorus, and the third for potassium. Occasionally there will be a fourth number in brackets - that's sulfur. Legally, fertilizer must contain at minimum the percentage of nutrients shown on its label. The higher the number, the greater the concentration of that nutrient in the fertilizer. Some fertilizers also contain a variety of other nutrients, which will likely be indicated on the package somewhere.

As long as you follow the instructions on the label, you should be safe using any of those fertilizers. Be careful with the pesticide one and the ones with the higher numbers though, as they could do some damage if used incorrectly. It should be safe to use your fertilizers in combination, although I wouldn't actually mix the dry fertilizers themselves together as certain mixtures can react to form a sludge which then dries into a sort of cement. It isn't dangerous, just inconvenient. And remember that the numbers will add up - so be careful not to overfertilize. It's better to underfertilize a bit than to overfertilize.

Your old fertilizers should still be ok to use. Again, follow the instructions on the package.

Lastly, it's always a good idea to get your soil tested to find out how much fertilizer you actually need. The recommended rates on the packages are a good general guideline, but you may find that your soil is deficient in or has excess of a certain nutrient. In that case, you'll want to slightly alter the amount of fertilizer you apply.
San Diego, CA
(Zone 10b)

July 20, 2005
9:30 PM

Post #1637164

Oh wow, I'm so excited that someone responded to my question! Thank you so much. :) I will definitely get my soil tested, although I think my neighbor just had it done so perhaps I could peek at their results (same dirt afterall). Also good to know that if they overlap a bit it won't hurt. The plants all are pretty intermingled, so I was having a hard time keeping the furtilizer on the correct plants. Now that I think about it, it was probably pretty comical trying to get all those granules brushed over to the right plant when they blew around. :)

I haven't tried the pesticide furtilizer yet, so I thought I'd try it at half strength initially to see if it helps. I've read quite a few warnings from other posts here, on how that can burn your plants.

So on light of your comments, I'll probably not use the perma grow bloom for now, since that seems to have a huge amount of phosphorus.

What would the bone meal be good for?

This message was edited Jul 20, 2005 2:30 PM


Northeast, PA
(Zone 6b)

July 21, 2005
2:01 AM

Post #1637629

Don't let the marketing guys get you thinking there's a specific fertilizer you
must use for each plant. Focus on the numbers - and watch the very high
ones as suggested. I suspect they package same stuff for a variety of uses
and try to get you to buy 3 times the products you need that way!

Bone meal is good for potassium. Tomatoes like a lot of it. I just mix
it in my vegatable garden every few years. (It takes a long time to break
down so its good for several years)

In general, I don't use fertilzers on my landscape (or if any, I use organic types).
Compost adds a lot of fertility as well as lots of microbial life that helps the
soil feed your plants. Too much inorganic, you can burn the plants or have it
wash off in the rain and polute our streams & lakes. I do use fertilizers for
my containers - they need a lot to keep blooming all summer!

Good luck!
San Diego, CA
(Zone 10b)

July 21, 2005
1:37 PM

Post #1638559

Thanks for that advice, I'll keep that in mind. Most of the fertilizers I've purchased were on the advice of either my landscaper, the gardners at the nursery I like, or from someone here at DG. I just started worrying if it was like a drug interaction if I didn't tell someone about all of them that might be intermingling. I have also recently added compost to all my beds, and it seems to be working well along with the added bonus of making the beds look prettier and more moist. :)

Thanks again! Christina

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