Have any of you guys seen this new forum yet http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/f/dynamite/all/ . From reading about UniqueTreasures experiences with her pond garden it sounds to me as if this stuff might work well in the bales. It woould especially seem to address the issues some of you have had with over or under fertilizing. I'd try it myself but it's not available in Australia yet. (BOO-HOO)
Edited cause I can't spell in the middle of the night!
Kaelkitty, I used the Dynamite fertilizer last year in my containers. But, Kent had determined early on that the slow release wasn't something to count on for the bales. I put some of it in with the plants when I first planted them, but then just went on a regular schedule of the 20-20-20. So, I don't know if it worked or not.
Also, it is hard to find. Only one chain outlet in our area sells it. I tried to get it for my containers this year, but gave up.
I bought it, I used it and I saw nothing to brag about. I might have gotten better results using aged horse manure. Or compost tea. Or something. I did have a few monster plants - with little or no produce. I still have a bag of the stuff so I will stubbornly try it again - since I paid for it! - and see what happens.
An interesting bunch of replies have come in for my question, above. In Australia, oddly, we don't get this Dynamite stuff, but we do get quite a good range of the parent company's Nutricote products at the bigger Plant Nurseries and Hardware chains and I have used them with success in various gardens over the years. There is also another 4 month product available here called Nitrophoska which I use in all of my container ornamentals to very good effect.
Australian soils are, in a general sense, deficient in many trace elements. Some areas have problems of sufficient severity that it even affects the health of livestock and humans. We are also chronically low in phosphorus in many places. These are circumstances which the native flora and fauna have adapted to over many thousands of years but human agricultural plants and ornamentals are not so lucky.
What has this to do with bale gardening you ask? Having this background of information about plant nutrition needs has made me very curious about just what is going on in those bales! The Australian experience proves that you can only get out of your planting medium WHAT YOU PUT IN in the first place. Consider the bale, it is basically dried plant material. This plant material will ONLY contain the nutrients and ESPECIALLY the trace elements which were present in the soil where the plants were grown. (The same thing applies to any garden compost you make by the way).
When you "cook" the bale, you introduce masses of nitrogen to feed the micro-organisms which break down the plant material in the bale into substances that plants can use, well and good, but what about trace elements? Repeated applications of liquid fertilisers are all well and good but must surely result in an uneven nutritional profile. Often, an excess of one nutrient leads to a deficiency of another as the various compounds interact. Some of the forum members have mentioned particular plants which have failed to thrive, or they have had some crops which did not fruit well. I am wondering whether slow release fertiliser applications might not be a good resource in the later part of the plants development - especially once flowering and fruit set are under way?
It is mid-winter here and I am hoping to get my first set of bales soon. I am of a mind to do a little controlled testing once I do start, just to see what happens. In any case, I will let you know how things go.