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Team Fertilize, or Team No Fertilize

By Trish
September 18, 2011

There are too many teams to list on this Team Poll. Come tell us all about how you feed your plants.

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Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Sep 18, 2011 7:19 AM CST
My homemade compost is my favorite plant food. Most analysis I've seen show compost as low NPK but it's a complete meal with both macro and micro nutrients, and it can stay around for a long time. Great soil amendment, too. I just never have as much as I want.

I usually only add a little actual fertilizer to the planting hole while planting, and most things never get fertilizer again for their entire lives. I try to avoid chemical fertilizers and stick to stuff that's more earth friendly. I always check the ingredients and use things derived from bone and blood meal, seed meals, guanos and the like, as opposed to ones made from petrochemicals. They're not necessarily certified organic, but at least earth friendly. The Espoma "tones" are readily available here and I probably use those most. And they tend to be much lower in NPK than chemical ferts, but again are more complete in micro and macro nutes.

Karen
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Sep 18, 2011 7:37 AM CST
I'm on team organic fertilizer. My husband was on team chemical fertilizer until this year. Last year I talked him into putting lots of manure on a new garden spot to be planted this year. It had all summer through early spring to break down. It sprouted all kinds of grass and weeds which were mowed down and more manure put on afterwards. This year we planted the garden and didn't use any chemical fertilizer at all. Everything grew great. Even the sunflowers on the edge of the main manure applied area have huge stalks and didn't bend or break in some strong wind storms we've had.
My husband is now a convert and has lined up a second source of manure that's even closer to home than the first one.
The garden stayed moist and only had to be watered once during our short drought season. After heavy rains the ground was spongy but you didn't sink to your ankles in mud.
Plus organic is better for our honey bees.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 18, 2011 8:01 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Two thumbs way way up!

Karen- are you going to share your recipe with us, or is this a proprietary blend?
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Sep 18, 2011 8:09 AM CST
What recipe do you mean Trish? For compost?

I should have mentioned, too, that I have clay soil so things stick around a long time. Unlike sandy soil where water and nutrients tend to drain and run through, clay holds on to things like glue, sometimes for years.

Karen
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 18, 2011 8:12 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Yes, you said that you make your own compost. Do you have a certain recipe/ratios that you use, or it is just the "throw clippings/kitchen discards/weeds together" recipe?

We have both, so I was just curious Big Grin
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Sep 18, 2011 8:25 AM CST
Yes, my "recipe" is whatever I have at the time. I use lots of dry leaves which I hoard in fall. I have three 32 gallon garbage cans which I use to store shredded leaves, and overflow stays in lawn bags until needed. I collect leaves in the neighborhood, and two guys with lots of big trees deliver their leaves to my house. When I run out of leaves, I buy a bale of straw (that's the only compost ingredient that I pay for). Most of my compost is made from yard waste, a few kitchen scraps, coffee and tea bags...

I use two Biostack bins and like them a lot. Each is made of three bottomless tiers, and I divide them into whatever size stacks I need at the time for different batches of compost. The stacking tiers makes flipping the contents easier because contents don't have to big lifted so high.
Thumb of 2011-09-18/kqcrna/ab419a

Karen
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 18, 2011 11:49 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Those are really neat bins! I like how they stack like that.

We have a compost tumbler. I find it works well when it is kept moist, and I like how even a child can tumble it.
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
Be yourself, you can be no one else
Charter ATP Member Region: Oregon Farmer Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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MaryE
Sep 18, 2011 3:43 PM CST
It's not really compost because I have stopped building piles that heat up and need turning, but I have access to plenty of manure from my horses and the neighbor's sheep pens, plus grass clippings and leaves. All of my kitchen trimmings, coffee grounds, and tea bags and science projects from the dark corners of the referigerator go into empty spaces in the garden, to feed whatever grows there next season. My clay soil is better than it was 18 years ago, but we still have a ways to go to make one end of the garden soft enough to grow decent onions.
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
More ramblings at http://thegatheringplacehome.myfastforum.org/forum54.php
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 18, 2011 4:19 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

That's great, Mary!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Sep 18, 2011 5:07 PM CST
I build lasagna beds and compost in place sometimes, too.

Karen
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
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fiwit
Sep 18, 2011 5:22 PM CST
Mary, cold compost piles are still compost piles, according to the folks at the gardenweb forums where I learned about composting...

remember, no matter what you do or how you do it, eventually it all turns into compost. Thumbs up


(the other Mary)
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 18, 2011 7:21 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

fiwit said:
remember, no matter what you do or how you do it, eventually it all turns into compost. Thumbs up


(the other Mary)


I agree Hurray!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
Be yourself, you can be no one else
Charter ATP Member Region: Oregon Farmer Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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MaryE
Sep 18, 2011 7:37 PM CST
Good to know! But then I wonder why the inspector from Oregon Tilth told my neighbor that his big piles of sheep pen cleanings were not compost piles because they didn't get watered, turned, etc, but just sat there and broke down over about 4 years time.
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
More ramblings at http://thegatheringplacehome.myfastforum.org/forum54.php
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
fiwit
Sep 18, 2011 7:58 PM CST
Because inspectors have to follow rules, and they have to worry about people who try to circumvent rules by claiming things are something they're not. For instance, I told my city code compliance inspector that he wasn't seeing a brush pile, he was seeing a landscape feature and part of a certified wildlife habitat (both of which were true, but it was also very clearly a brush pile, which is a no-no in our town) Whistling
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
Be yourself, you can be no one else
Charter ATP Member Region: Oregon Farmer Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Image
MaryE
Sep 18, 2011 8:26 PM CST
Hmmm, did you get to keep it?
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
More ramblings at http://thegatheringplacehome.myfastforum.org/forum54.php
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
fiwit
Sep 18, 2011 8:58 PM CST
Yeah Big Grin
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Jan
St. Pete,FL
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plumerias Dog Lover
Region: Florida Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Seed Starter Seller of Garden Stuff Tropicals Hummingbirder
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Budgielover
Sep 19, 2011 12:15 PM CST
I purchase potting mix by the truck full to use when upsizing pots or adding to holes for new plants. It is a mix of topsoil and aged horse manure/shavings with a tiny bit of time release fertilizer mixed in. I do not buy any other fertilizer. As a matter of fact, my county is a dry county for the purchase of fertilizer of any time from spring till late fall due to too much being washed into the sewer systems and out to the bay and lakes as runoff during the rainy season. Once a plant's roots grow beyond the soil they were planted with, they slowly adapt to the native soil/sand and aclimate on their own. I do use a good percentage of native plants too to reduce the amount fertilizing needed. Of course, my fruits/veggies may not be as productive without supplementation but that's ok by me. I only grow for my own use and not for commercial purposes.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 19, 2011 1:41 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Jan, I've never heard of this "dry period" before! One of our boarders is a creek, and upstream from us is a commercial tomato grower. From what we hear, he is more chemist and less farmer, and I shudder to think about it as our cows drink from that creek.

People really don't realize how much run off really can be a serious problem.
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
Image
kqcrna
Sep 19, 2011 6:37 PM CST
And dead zones in the oceans too! It has to help if we all do our part in not over fertilizing. If everyone cut back a little... it would add up. But I suppose that large commercial growers outdo home gardeners by a mile.

Karen
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 19, 2011 8:38 PM CST
>> organic fertilizer

I suggest that we are all on "Team Fertilize" whether we know it or not.

Some people (the lucky and energetic ones) haul and make and apply lots of organic fertilizer - compost, manure, organic mulch, or other organic matter.

How could that not be fertilizer? It's where their NPK, and Iron, Sulfur, Mg, etc etc come from!

So who is on Team Chemical Fertilizer?
People who don't have enough compost, like barely enough for adequate tilth.
People without wheelbarrows?

Funny that so many commercial farmers rely so heavily on chemical fertilizers. There must be some bottom-line, profit-loss reason, maybe only a short-sighted one. Maybe they can't get, or can't afford, enough compost to keep their yields (profits) high enough.

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