Thursday, April 16, 2009

Organic Fertilizers

I have had lots of ideas for posts this week including why mignonette lettuce are ‘mignonette’, but I promised more about fertilizers a few weeks back so let’s get fertilizers out of the way.
It’s funny you know, nurserymen are forever trying to simplify (dumb down?) gardening. We’re scared of frightening the inexperienced away, but I think many gardeners get a great deal of pride from managing and controlling their patch. That’s why fertilizers generate such intense interest. There you go, horticultural philosophy for the week. What do you think? Please email & let me know.
OK so… Let’s start with NPK.
This is a regularly used acronym for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (K is the chemical symbol for Potassium). These 3 chemicals along with Calcium are the ‘major’ plant nutrients. Huh? Well, plants produce their own energy through the process of photosynthesis. I won’t go into this detail (I have forgotten most of it), other than to say plants can take the sun’s energy, mix it with water and the ‘major’ nutrients to produce energy. That’s why getting the balance of nutrients right is so important!
Over time I will look at the specific attributes of each of the major nutrients and the pro’s & con’s of each of the most commonly available sources, but I think that’s enough for one day.
Some Organic fertilizer sources:
Relatively low Nitrogen content (but well balanced)
• Poultry litter
• Cow manure
• Sheep manure
• Garden compost
Medium Nitrogen content
• Blood & Bone (relatively high phosphorus, not great for native plants)
• Sewerage sludge (dried)
• Poultry manure
High Nitrogen content
• Hoof and Horn
• Blood meal
I started with the lower rates at the top of the list because I think these ones provide the best general use fertilizing options.
Info courtesy of Growing media for ornamentals and turf. K Handreck & N. Black

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