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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Suggestions on Fertilizer?
Location: Washington, Southwestern
Posted: May-24-2009 at 11:09am
What should I buy to fertilize my perennials and annuals.
Looking for the best bang for my buck, and have a sneaking suspicion that Miracle-Gro may not be the miracle it claims to be....
Location: Oregon, Willamette Valley
Posted: May-24-2009 at 2:49pm Well bhanson, I'll be the first to advise a search for Complete Organic Fertilizer, or COF. Based on Steve Solomon's recipe from his veggie book.
Of course organics don't have the Miracle Gro-wth of the synthetics but they are literally better for the earth.
http://www.rainyside.com/resources/fertilizer.html is the location, I'm Quick Replying or I'd have a fancy link.
Location: Washington, Puget Sound Corridor
Posted: May-25-2009 at 9:17am I would echo what tommyb just said. Also I would note that, it pays to pay more attention to your soil, than to fertilizers. In most cases, at least outside the vegetable garden (and some would claim even there) good soil husbandry will do far more than constant fertilizer use for your plants. I generally avoid synthetics like Miraclegrow especially. I call them "drugs for the soil". Just like drugs, if you want to see the explosive results, you have to keep using them.
Pots are a different matter. When you are growing in pots, even if you change the soil each year, you kind of have to use ferts. Miraclegrow works well for this kind of a situation, but there are organic mixes that work nearly as well and I don't worry so much about overflow, lol. Follow tommy's link above for a more complete explanation about them. One other benefit of most organic ferts; they stay active in the soil for longer. Miraclegrow needs to be used by the plant in two weeks or it pretty much leaches out of the soil.
One final note on ferts- one of the least understood aspects of heavy fertilizing is that if you are looking for drought tolerance, you may want to be a little more stingy on fertilizers, especially nitrogen. Excess Nitrogen fosters explosive top growth, especially in spring, but may result in a plant with more top than roots, and later in summer will need more water to sustain the plant than it might if there was more balanced growth. Again, in pots this is kind of what you want, so just keep watering and fertilizing to get the big results. In perennial borders, you may be better off with slower growth that is more balanced. On the other hand, our soils are typically nitrogen poor, so extra nitrogen often helps. Balance is key, and finding that balance is a lifetime's work ;)
Green Man Gardens
design and consulting with a focus on native plants and wildlife habitat
Location: Washington, Kitsap Peninsula
Posted: Jun-03-2009 at 10:59pm Greenman has already made the case for organic ferts, but I'd like to add a couple thoughts here.
Many of the new complete formulations of "all-Purpose" organic fertilizer brands are also adding in microbials - these are "starters" of beneficial bacteria and fungi that enhance the nutrient exchange between soil and plants.
If you have a small plot, a large sack of one of these brands would be a good way to go. If you have a lot of plants you're going to be using them on, you may want to get individual components and add them to a bag of complete with microbials. This would still give you the "starter" to innoculate your soil with, but it's a more economical way to go. Of course, you'll have to learn about what ingredient provides what, etc. to put together a good mix, but it's knowledge that will be useful for a lifetime.
You can get the microbials alone, from many online sources, and create your own complete recipe. When you do this, you can also adjust your components to meet the needs of whatever you're feeding. I.e. - add a higher ratio of bone meal for flowering perennials, and a lower one for, say, evergreens.
Many of the organics are very economical when purchased in bulk through local feed stores. It's a higher initial outlay of money, but you'd have a good stock to last you for a long time.
Patti - Kitsap Peninsula, WA