The Q&A Archives: Safe Fertilizers

Question: I have small children and pets. What is a safe fertilizer for my lawn, vegetable and rose garden?

Answer: If you apply them according to the label instructions, and all cautions are followed and heeded carefully, any fertilizer should be safe. If you are concerned about contamination from toxic substances contained in "weed and feed" type fertilizers, do not use them. The safest fertilizers are probably substances like rock flour, greensand and black rock phosphate, which are simply ground up stone. They are slow to react in the soil compared to synthetic fertizers, and so last a long time, and their impact on soil life is gentler. And greensand is GREAT for roses! Before using any fertilizer, have a soil test done to make sure fertilizer is necessary. Call your extension service (610/489-4315) for soil testing information, or purchase a home-test from the Burpee catalog (800/888-1417) or website (

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