Some Really Good Info On Fertilizers

Thought the NG might find this interesting/informative.
http://www.mgonline.com/fertilize.html
Patrick
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Perhaps not as great information as you think, specially pertaining to plants in the ground. The primary ommission the article makes is that it is not NECESSARY to regularly fertilize plants established in the ground. Fertilizing is only necessary if plants are indicating signs of nutrient deficiency - they are able to get the bulk of the nutrients they need for optimum growth from the soil they are planted in, specially if that soil is regularly amended by top dressing with compost or other quality organic matter. Fertilizing should only be done after a soil test indicates specific nutrient deficiencies and then only to correct those deficiencies. Established trees and shrubs generally require NO additional fertilizing and contrary to common opinion, fertilizing does not make plants grow faster. Wholesale fertilizing of your garden without purpose can lead to lanky, lush growth that is more susceptible to insects and diseases, lack of flowering from excessive nitrogen, build up of fertilizer salts in the soils and depletion of the soil biomass. Don't fall prey to fertilizer marketing ploys - your plants will tell you when they require fertilizing.
pam - gardengal

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Excellent concise overview. I sometimes feel like a loner for being a minimalist in the fertilizer department. Most folks seem really to think they're doing the best possible thing slathering it on just as the chemical vendors but not necessarily the garden wishes us all to do.
-paghat the ratgirl
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from snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) contains these words:

You're not alone.

It's the same over here in the UK.
What interests me is that most organic gardeners I know are hardheaded down to earth pragmatists. They've tried using bought chemical fertilisers, and they've tried using free home-made compost and mulches. They stick with the latter because it grew better plants for them.
Chemical-gardening enthusiasts,I've noticed, seldom have experience of anything else. Strangely, they call this "a scientific approach", and scornfully dismiss what they have never tried as "all myth and magic".
Janet
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Patrick) wrote:

The article you've recommended is so wacky in its desire for everyone to maximize the number of chemicals slathered in the garden the maximum number of times per year that I'm surprised it isn't at the website of a chemical vendor.
Oh wait! The article IS at the website of a chemical vendor!
The vendor's main product offered is a palm tree fertilizer for $10 a pound. So of course the article claims the product they resell is the closest thing you can get to a universal fertilizer for every inch of the garden four to six times a year. If you used their particular product six times a year, you'd eventually be killing perennials with the contininous addition of boron & zinc added to the soil. The boron in particular does not wash out of the soil so accumulates & eventually makes soil useless to plants, meaning this is the worst fertilizer to use as a "universal" fertilizer six times a year.
And the excesses of nitrogen they are advocating might turn some plants nice & green with swift production of new limbs or lots of foliage, but will stop many flowering shrubs from ever flowering.
Where the nitrogen component of soil is concerned, moisture & a low-nitrogen topcoating (such as autumn leaves, leafmold, or composted manure as mulch) will induce microrganisms to produce nitrogens in the soil "coincidentally" at exactly the rate plants require. Nature is full of lovely tricks like that. Slathering chemicals interupts rather than assists a garden's natural balance. Because gardens tend to be more crowded than nature or to be insufficiently leaf-covered in autumn, with nutrients by too many techniques carted away rather than recycled back into the garden, occasional fertilizing may be inescapable. It should be done, at most, as needed, which can range from occasionally to rarely to never.
The vendor is a curious old duck also selling "residential landscaping" & promising they will NOT do what you want if you hire them: "We do not plant other people's designs. That's just plain labor and no fun. Besides, at the end of the work, we don't want to be judged by someone else's concepts." Great. Hire a couple beer-gut dufuses to landscape your garden to THEIR taste or standard pattern using whatever plants they obtained most cheaply, because it's just too much work for them to do an individual landscaping job for the persons who will actually have to live with the result.
It's also sad to once again see evidence that the title "Master Gardener" tends to indicate an individual little-capable of sound advice. It's a title anyone can acquire with minimal effort, unlike say a horticultural degree or the body of knowledge required by an arborist. When a landscaper's greatest qualification is boasting they squeeked through the master gardener program alongside a lot of charming little-old-ladies-in-garden-shoes, you just know what these "landscapers" really are are ditchdiggers turned lawn-installers.
-paghat the ratgirl
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