Recommended by Trish - Jul 20, 2012 3:07 PM
Winchester Gardens is a family owned manufacturer of lawn and garden products in Ohio who, in 2010, developed their own line of fertilizers. They sell both organic and chemical fertilizers and last year they opened their website, and you can now order directly from them.
They also sell outdoor furniture and decor. From the pictures on their website, I think they are both charming and unique, although I haven't seen any in person, and can't speak to the quality.
Winchester Gardens was excited for us to introduce to you their line of fertilizers. Today I'm going to introduce you to those products, and later in the season we'll see the results of our trials. After all, we gardeners want first and foremost to know if it works!
First up, we have their chemical non-organic fertilizers. They have both a 10-30-20 "Bud and Bloom" as well as a 15-15-15 "All Purpose Fertilizer". Both of these are water soluble. I have not trialed either of these products, mostly because I simply don't use a chemical fertilizer under normal conditions. These are commercial fertilizers, which are a much higher concentration than standard big box fertilizer products. Here's what their Research and Development department has to say about the difference in off-the-shelf brand name water soluble fertilizer and their water soluble fertilizer:
"The first difference is that our fertilizer provides nitrogen to the plants in a quicker time frame because of the use of potassium nitrate. Nitrogen from potassium nitrate is immediately available to the plant while the urea and ammonium nitrogen both go through the nitrofication process in the soil. Secondly we are adding calcium which is not found in other water soluble fertilizers. Thirdly we use iron DTPA versus the iron EDTA used in other brand name products; iron DTPA is considered to be, in agronomic terms, a better product for absorption by plants." Fourthly we are using niacin, thiamine and cobalt sulfate which are considered to be a vitamin pack for the soil and plants. "
They also have a "Multi-cote All Purpose" 15-7-15 which is a slow release. I am trialing this one on a potted plant that was looking pretty poor. The plant on the left received the fertilizer, and the one on the right did not. We attached a zip tie to the fertilized plant. This product looks to be a competitor to Osmocote and similar slow release fertilizers. As for prices, Osmocote goes for $11.00 for 3lbs, and the Multi-cote is $17.50 for 4 lbs.
Next up is the 5-15-5 Vegetable fertilizer spikes. I have to admit, these spikes are very convenient! We placed these spikes around one of our cucumber trellises, and left the other one unfertilized. Following the instructions for distance, these spikes went very quickly! For just 4 plants, we used the whole bag.
Last in the non-organic category is the 8-24-8 Tomato Spikes. Again, very convenient to stick them around the plants. Each plant received 2 spikes, and the directions stated to use them every 8 weeks. We placed the spikes, and marked the plants that had been fertilized.
One of the things that I really appreciated about the chemical fertilizers is that the bag tells you what materials they are derived from. For example, the Vegetable Spikes have TSP (the same as the cleaning agent, I'd guess), which is where the phosphate comes from. Good info to have! None of the ingredients in the vegetable formulas were particularly scary, so we felt ok using them in our gardens.
Now, let's talk organic fertilizers! First is the berry Fertilizer with added potassium. This is a 2-3-4 fertilizer that is in powdered form and sprinkled around the plants. They also make the same fertilizer in spike form. We used the spikes on the left side of the bed, and the powdered formula on the right, which then had to be worked into the top inch or so of soil. You can see why we enjoyed the spikes! Although, if we had used the powdered fertilizer at planting time, instead of in an already established bed, this process would have been easier. We left 4-6 plants in the middle of the bed unfertilized.
They offer two different herb fertilizer options- tabs and powder. I placed the tabs around all of the herbs in my new herb spiral. This one isn't really a trial, since we won't have anything to contrast with.
Lastly, we are trialing the Organic Vegetable Fertilizer Spikes, a 4-6-6 formula. We're using these in parts of the bean patch, as well as selected pepper plants.
My initial impressions:
~While the spikes are easy to use, they seem very expensive; especially if you have a larger garden like we do. The directions for the Organic Vegetable Spikes state to use 8 spikes per square foot. That's about 8 spikes per plant, and needed a reapplication every 8 weeks. I regret not counting the number of spikes in each bag to gain a better sense of the cost, but the website stated that there were 50 in the package. I did mention that the whole bag was used on the cucumbers (4 plants). Keep in mind, though, that as a general rule, we don't use bought fertilizers of any sort, so choking down the cost would be harder for me!
~ I am impressed at the variety of specialty fertilizers that they offer. The tree varieties are separate from each other, there are ferts for your ponds, and even specialties for your elephant ears! They also sell bone meal and blood meal.
~Their website is clear and well put together. At the bottom of the page is an area to type in your zip code to find a dealer in your area. If that's not available (it wasn't for me), they ship free for orders over $25.
~A minor annoyance- if you forget which fertilizer is the best application for what, the bag doesn't tell you. If you want to know which formula is better for your beans- the 4-6-6 or the 5-15-5, you'll have to find that info elsewhere, not while standing in your garden trying to decide. There isn't any additional info about the numbers, what they mean, or what is best for your plants on their website either.
I look forward to seeing the results of our trial!! Look for an update in the weeks ahead!
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review, but they did provide me with the product I am reviewing. All opinions are my own honest impressions.
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