Organics vs “standard” salt based fertilizers

09 Apr Organics vs “standard” salt based fertilizers

At a nursery conference several years ago I heard  a cooperative extension educator make the analogy that feeding  your landscape plants organics vs “standard” salt based fertilizers was the difference of feeding your family a meat, potato and veggie meal vs candy. The salt based fertilizers are used quickly, like candy with little residual benefit whereas most organics are a slow release mineral based meals.  It is tragic that neither my plants nor I can survive on sugary meals alone, I have tried and failed many times.

There is a lot of marketing money behind those salt based fertilizers and if you put Miracle in the name, the assumption is it will provide one to your ailing plants. This isn’t necessarily a one or the other decision, in fact I use Osmocote, a slow release encapsulated non organic fertilizer in all of my annuals in pots. The biggest difference between when I choose organics and “standard” has everything to do with soils. In my pots I use a sterile soilless mix.

For lawns, trees, shrubs and perennials, using organic granular fertilizers makes a big difference in the health and vigor of these plants by feeding the soil with the natural meals and minerals, and increasing the beneficial microbes in the soil, which helps the plant’s immune system.

Every bag of fertilizer has three major numbers associated with it – N-P-K. Although the Nitrogen- Phosphorus and Potassium numbers N-P-K are much lower in organics vs standard fertilizers, the N-P-K is slowly released. I use and sell  Espoma’s Tones: Plant Tone, Holly Tone, Bulb Tone and BioTone Starter. Acid loving plants like evergreens and broadleaf evergreens benefit from Holly-Tone and new plantings from the Bio-Tone Starter. I like to use the Bulb-tone on my spring flowering bulbs to insure they bloom year after year. Daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops, scilla, grape hyacinths, specie tulips, fritillaria will all spread and bloom better with an application of organic fertilizer at least twice a year.

The other reason to use organics is the health of our environment fand or your family. Exposing ourselves to harsh herbicides and pesticides for the sake of a perfect landscape is just not necessary. Using organic fertilizers and compost will encourage robust invasive grass roots that will choke out weeds. If you are having issues in your landscape and are using organics, look at all of the cultural conditions: too much water off a roof or from irrigation, a neighbor’s dog that uses your lawn or shrubs as a restroom. When was the last time you added organic matter to your lawn or garden beds?  Feed your soil with organics and the resulting additional microbes (good bacteria and fungi also known as mycorrhiza) will be beneficial partners with your landscape plants.

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Michelle and Team Lakeview!