Soil and Compost forum→What to do for fertilizing and soil amendments.

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Name: Pat
McLean, VA (Zone 7a)
daylilly99
Jan 18, 2021 6:09 PM CST
I asked this question in the daylily forum but not much response. I hope it's better placed here. Thanks in advance.

I grow a lot of daylilies in raised beds and in those beds I plan to use alfalfa pellets, organic Fertilizer (Symphony - chicken manure), kelp meal. I wonder if they need more.

Also, all the rest of my yard full of ornamentals is neglected when it comes to fertilizer and I want to fertilize without spending quite so much. It doesn't have to be organic but I kind of hate the idea of going back to 10-10-10 or something like that. There's always Milorganite. When I started putting it in the hole with a newly planted daylily years ago, the results were obvious and good, however sprinkling it around in the ensuring years didn't show me anything noticeable.

Any advice is welcome.
Name: Bea
(Zone 8b)
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bumplbea
Jan 18, 2021 6:34 PM CST
May not be the answer your looking for but I rarely fertilize my garden. I have all raised beds. Brought in mushroom compost 8-10" . Add compost or small amount of time released fertilizer to new plants dahlia tubers, daylilies when planting . As long as they have good drainage, air/oxygen to roots air circulation, sun all that good stuff everybody seems happy. Well until the deer come along.

Or maybe it's the water ? Can u do a PH test of soil . Sometimes the soil is to acid or alkaline depending on rain or the water if city or well water . There are places to send a sample of water. My well water has to much calcium so I have a filter I use .

What type of an effect are you looking for with soil amendments. A mix of sand, clay has lots of minerals etc. should be approximately 60% topsoil, 30% compost, 10% Potting/recycled soil adding a soilless growing mix that contains peat moss, perlite and/or vermiculite . I use sterile mushroom compost blend from yard garden supply stores.They deliver by the yard.

Take a peek at my garden combo pics dahlias, shrubs, trees etc. are of my garden.
I’m so busy... “I don’t know if I found a rope or lost a horse.”
[Last edited by bumplbea - Jan 18, 2021 6:49 PM (+)]
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Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
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Arico
Jan 18, 2021 6:43 PM CST
I agree, no need for that.

People these days overfertillize their gardens to negative effect of surface/groundwater. Unless a soil test suggests deficiencies, there's no need.
Besides that, you're not managing a field, or even a veg patch, but purely an ornamental garden. You won't be harvesting great amounts of organic material every year resulting in nutrient depletions.

If you really want to 'fertellize', mulch using wood chips, straw or haul autumn leaves which so many Americans direct to the curb for landfill.
They'll be so much more beneficial than chemical fertillizers.

Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
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NMoasis
Jan 18, 2021 7:02 PM CST
daylily99, the thing about fertilizing is that it is such a wide-ranging topic and you'll get countless opinions. However, your first step should be to determine what, if anything, is deficient in your soil. You can use a home testing kit, send a sample to your ag. extension, or just observe plant symptoms and performance, but just adding stuff without knowing why isn't the way to go.

The products you're using are all nitrogen-heavy. It's true that nitrogen is most easily depleted from soil, but if you don't balance it with phosphorus and potassium and micronutrients your soil will not feed your plants well (but again, back to testing: what does your soil need?) You say you don't mind if your fertilizer isn't organic but don't want to use a 10-10-10. Why not?

Many organic soil amendments take quite some time to break down, which is why they are best applied to soil in fall or early spring. They aren't immediately effective when used as side dressing mid-summer.

The Symphony looks okay, maybe low on potassium, and does your soil need calcium? Combining the chicken fertilizer with alfalfa is probably redundant...might not hurt, might be too much nitrogen. IMO, save your money and skip the kelp. Others might disagree. Whatever you use should be worked into the soil and watered well, not just sprinkled on the soil.

The best thing you can add is compost compost compost. It's not a fertilizer but boosts the microbial activity and tilth of your soil so it can better use available nutrients.

Edit to add: I totally agree with the two first posts, which beat me to it. Test and compost/1

For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
[Last edited by nmoasis - Jan 18, 2021 7:04 PM (+)]
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Name: Kenny Shively
Rineyville, KY. region 10. (Zone 6b)
Daylilies Hybridizer Region: Kentucky
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kennysh
Jan 19, 2021 8:35 AM CST
Pat, I am also in zone 6b and my hobby is growing and hybridizing daylilies. Here are some of the amendments I use, lots of ground leaves (free from local city.) Alfalfa pellets, some worm castings, and just as scapes start a fish and seaweed liquid fertilizer sprayed on all the foilage I can reach, this is just for micronutrients, seems to help with brighter deeper color on blooms. Daylilies do like nitrogen, and water, but other things as well. As others have stated a soil test is always a good idea. I use alfalfa pellets and worm castings on all my plants. Worm castings can be a little pricey (see if you can buy directly from the worm farm, usually a lot cheaper ,especially if you are close enough to pick them up your self). Alfalfa pellets are fairly cheap when you consider you are getting nutrients and building your soil. Some of these amendments are worked into the soil in the fall. Some are used as a side dressing and covered with a bit of leaf mold compost in the spring. I must also say I use a lot of used coffee grounds in my garden (check your local coffee shop), great for Earthworms. These are most of the things I use. May or may not work for you. Shrug! . Good luck with your garden I tip my hat to you. . Stay healthy and safe Smiling .
Name: Pat
McLean, VA (Zone 7a)
daylilly99
Jan 21, 2021 9:43 AM CST
Thanks to all who replied. I got bit distracted and forgot to check back for answers until just now.

My problem with getting soil test(s) is that I have so many beds or mixed perennials/shrubs in the yard in addition to about 40 4' x 12' raised beds in which I hybridize my daylilies and grow some veggies. There are probably many different soil conditions, depending on where in the garden I take a sample and it really adds up at $10 per test plus the cost of shipping boxes of soil to the extension service.

When you do get results, they don't come with specific recommendations as I recall from having done it once or twice. Maybe it's worth spending $100 or so to test a few areas (my DH won't be happy about it as he's not a gardener).

I just got in about 10 cubic yards of double shredded wood from the recycling center and the same amount of leaf compost, so I'll be working hard to weed and put all of that down as thickly as is reasonable between the ornamentals and daylilies. I already bought about 240 pounds of alfalfa pellets for the raised beds and ordered a gallon of humic acid to try out on some of the ornamentals and veggies just to see if it makes a difference.

I asked about amendments because I want a healthier soil and I know (from a test the extension will do for free) that I have some nematodes. I've been adding what I could of crab meal to hopefully help with that. I'm just looking to get as many beneficial nematodes, etc. into the soil as I can manage.

I have a huge compost pile onto which I throw everything that is not diseased or a really noxious weed and it breaks down into soil but never gets "hot".

I suppose it would be a good idea to take samples from that for a soil test too.
Name: Dr. Demento Jr.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jan 26, 2021 4:57 PM CST
What type of soil are they planted in ?
Natural dirt, dirt you created, bagged dirt?
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
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cwhitt
Feb 1, 2021 3:12 PM CST
You might try just putting down some manure.
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Name: Pat
McLean, VA (Zone 7a)
daylilly99
Mar 28, 2021 12:34 PM CST
Here's an update.

I sent in 5 soil samples, taking them from various of my raised beds where I do most of my hybridizing and growing on of new plants.

The results were pretty much the same for all 5 samples. No need for lime, phosphorous is very high, potash is very high. They recommended fertilizer with nitrogen only (or as close as possible). Urea is all nitrogen but you have to put it down carefully as it can burn plants. Another recommendation for fertilizer was a slow release lawn fertilizer, similar to what I just got a recommendation for from Jim Murphy. I got Jonathan Green Green Up (29-0-3) and a 15 pound bag is more than enough for one season. I had also gotten some alfalfa pellets and Jim says it won't hurt to put those down also.

Nematodes require a separate test, which I was going to do but I've discovered nothing outstanding with which treat them (or did discover a couple of things but at far too great a cost).

Let me mention that most all the fertilizer I have put down for years has been organic but it still made phosphorous and potash too high.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
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Seedfork
Mar 28, 2021 12:59 PM CST
I am amazed that only a 15 lb bag of fertilizer was needed for the entire season!
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
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Arico
Apr 8, 2021 4:44 PM CST
daylilly99 said:Here's an update.

I sent in 5 soil samples, taking them from various of my raised beds where I do most of my hybridizing and growing on of new plants.

The results were pretty much the same for all 5 samples. No need for lime, phosphorous is very high, potash is very high. They recommended fertilizer with nitrogen only (or as close as possible). Urea is all nitrogen but you have to put it down carefully as it can burn plants. Another recommendation for fertilizer was a slow release lawn fertilizer, similar to what I just got a recommendation for from Jim Murphy. I got Jonathan Green Green Up (29-0-3) and a 15 pound bag is more than enough for one season. I had also gotten some alfalfa pellets and Jim says it won't hurt to put those down also.

Nematodes require a separate test, which I was going to do but I've discovered nothing outstanding with which treat them (or did discover a couple of things but at far too great a cost).

Let me mention that most all the fertilizer I have put down for years has been organic but it still made phosphorous and potash too high.


Soil nitrogen levels go up and down so fast throughout the season it's impossible to test long term; that's why most labs don't.
Conversely it's easy and quick to remedy IF there is a deficiency.

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