can we talk about fertilizer?

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can we talk about fertilizer?

Postby eastwood2007 » Mar 14, 2007 11:45 am

I am fairly new to the forum, so y'all have probably talked about fertilizer lots before...

What do you use? Is there a post somewhere else, so you don't have to repeat everything? All of your gardens look so terrific...how do you do it???? :roll:

What about Milorganite for hostas?
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can we talk about fertilizer?

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Postby Wanda » Mar 14, 2007 12:38 pm

Charla: I don’t use any store-bought chemical fertilizers. When I build my garden beds, I make raised beds by adding 18-24” (or more) of organic composted manure, leafmould, pine bark nuggets and alfalfa cubes, run through the big chipper/shredder to mix them well. Each year I mulch with leafmould and sometimes composted manure. Then every 3-5 yrs., I dig every plant out of a bed, add another 18-24” of composted manure, leafmould, pine bark nuggets and alfalfa cubes, then replant the plants. Usually divide some and rearrange at that time, also. Especially since I plant my hosta closely together so they look good now, rather then planting them far enough apart for their total mature size...I hate the look of all that mulch! Each time I dig a bed, I have to remove about one third of the plants, due to growth. I don’t do all the beds each yr., sort of have a schedule so I just do some each year...not such a massive chore that way.

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Postby Tigger » Mar 14, 2007 2:29 pm

charla,

You'd probably get a different answer from every person here.

For "quick answers" there are comments on fertilizers and alfalfa pellets at the Hosta FAQ. There is also a discussion by hosta guru Warren Pollack in the newsletter I just published (http://dvhosta.org/dvhsnewsletter.htm).

Milorganite is good, with the added benefit (if this is a concern) that it helps repel deer.

Me, I'm pretty lazy. I'll put down some Preen with fertilizer in the spring (after mulching), then a little later use some decent lawn fertilizer at less-than-prescribed strength (to get maybe a 12-4-6 effect). Remember, you want to grow leaves and not flowers, so aim higher for N.

Hostas really don't need a lot of fertilizer. They need good soil (so build that with amendments/top-dressing/mulch), and lots and lots and lots of WATER. At least 1" per week. (Hank is equally insistent on this in his "guide to huge hosta" at the FAQ site.)
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Postby wzbt03 » Mar 14, 2007 2:35 pm

Good resources listed in the response - thanks for linking those.
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Postby greenguy » Mar 14, 2007 3:52 pm

I agree water is probably most important.

I use whatever fert. I get a good deal on but most often i get a bag or two for free and use whatever it is.

I like organic stuff the best and when I buy fert. I get a organic blend from John deere suppy.

I also buy a couple of bags of alfalfa every spring and spread it before mulching. After I put it down I water it in pretty heavy if no rain is in the forcast.
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Postby LucyGoose » Mar 14, 2007 6:30 pm

Hi Charla, and welcome!!

I am lazy too, and I also have beautiful black dirt, so I don't do much ....Tigger post is great....

Have fun....Hosta's are so much easier than roses I found out.... :lol: :lol:
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Postby eastwood2007 » Mar 15, 2007 12:15 am

Thanks everyone! A big help! I did condition my soil to about 20". I just want to do the best for the babies that I can! I'll check out those links...you are all so helpful!

BTW, Tigger, I did read your newsletter. It was terrific! I always just get a little nervous with fertilizer, as it can do so much damage if too strong or whatever....
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Postby GibbsCorner » Mar 15, 2007 8:59 am

You might want to do a search on "Alfalfa Tea" in these forums. Lots of people like it as a fertilizer/growth stimulant. I tried it last year, but you'll have to wait till things come up in the spring for my report on how well it worked. :D

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Postby eastwood2007 » Mar 15, 2007 2:26 pm

Thanks, Matt! I actually discovered info on alfalfa tea after reading these posts and searching about alfalfa on the internet. I think I would like to try it, from what I have read, alot of people think it is the thing to do.

I wonder if there is a way to put it thru a hose-end sprayer? Any thoughts on that? Maybe I could set my barrel of tea up on a platform with a spigot on it and hook my garden hose to it and let gravity work for me? I am just thinking of how long it could take to water each plant once a month (as some suggested) with a watering can...I can tell by some of the posts that we have some engineering-types out there. Can you come up with something we can patent? (ha, ha) :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby thy » Mar 15, 2007 6:54 pm

Just sprinkel the pellets and then water if needed
Lazy here - but it works :wink:

How is your soil ?

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Postby Hank Zumach » Mar 15, 2007 8:07 pm

Charla--Water, water, water. And then, just to be safe, get a soil test done by your County Extension Agent. Cost is about $12-$15. With that you will know what, if any, fertilizer you need. If you do decide to use a fertilizer, beside WATER, I would suggest a slow release applied in late spring. If you check around at farm suplly stores or larger garden supply stores you should be able to find slow release fertilizer at less than $1.00 per pound. Osmocote is OK but very expensive at several dollars per pound.
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Postby JoshS » Mar 16, 2007 5:15 pm

thy wrote:Just sprinkle the pellets and then water if needed


Agreed!

Brewing tea is making more work of it than need be...IMO.

I'd also go for alfalfa meal as opposed to pellets. Maybe less likely to attract animals?? Probably cheaper, too.
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Postby eastwood2007 » Mar 16, 2007 11:51 pm

Thanks, everyone! Good info...

josh...what kind of animals?? That makes me nervous! :o

Thanks, Hank! I do water, water, water. I am blessed with a pond and my own water supply line. Freeeee water! Yippee!

Pia, good idea, I like easier, too. More likely to get done if easier! :P
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Postby impatience » Mar 19, 2007 12:02 am

Alfalfa is positively the worst smelling thing you can imagine. Use the pellets.

Bunnies will come to the Alfalfa pellets so you can cover with mulch.

Only larger animals that like to roll around on an aged cow carcas would hunt out the tea.

Whatever you do, don't let it ferment for long (like days).
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Postby JoshS » Mar 19, 2007 10:20 am

Alfalfa pellets are sold as animal feed (rabbits, horses...not sure what else). The meal is powdered, so you just toss it around the plants and water it in. I've never had trouble with animals.

Yes, alfalfa has a distinct odor, but I can think of smells much worse! I've never made fermented tea, though...
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Postby eastwood2007 » Mar 19, 2007 1:14 pm

Thanks, y'all! I like the idea of the alfalfa meal, I think. I definitely don't want to draw any rabbits. We have many here in the country, and while the dogs keep most things chased away, we've had an occasional rabbit get in and do alot of damage. Since I have free water out of our pond, I don't mulch, so I wouldn't be able to cover the pellets up. Sounds like tea is time consuming. :roll:

Josh, about how much meal would I use per hosta? I am sure it depends on plant size, some, but would it be a cup? 1/2 cup? Can I just sprinkle it around individual plants or do I put it over the whole bed? :-?
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Postby Chris_W » Mar 19, 2007 1:39 pm

We use 3 fertilizers in the gardens and growing areas, and for our potted plants we use 3 others, but those are more for commercial growing purposes.

In the garden we use:

Milorganite spread out in the spring just before the eyes start to pop. That way we just use a broadcast spreader and go over the whole garden.

When we plant we mix in Hollytone and an alfalfa based fertilizer from Bradfield Organics.

And yes, water, water, water... Well, unless it is above 90 degrees, then we make sure the soil surface stays dry so as to not encourage southern blight :roll:
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Postby pauhaus » Mar 19, 2007 2:05 pm

Hey Chris, I finally found some alfalfa meal and was going to use is to topdress my garden this spring, and was wondering if you ever mix Hollytone with alfalfa meal as a topdressing? See any problems with that or would just the alfalfa meal work best? :P
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Postby Mary Ann » Mar 19, 2007 2:42 pm

I've been brewing alfalfa tea for years, makes me feel like a mad chemist. :o I add all sorts of odd nutrients to it, like fish emulsion, ironite, leftover liquid fertilizers, Miracid, dried molasses (sugar to feed bacteria), and aerate the whole batch with an aquarium pump to keep it oxygenated. It doesn't smell! Several days later I toss it over the beds by the bucketful, making it a foliar feed too.

Alfalfa meal is added to all my container mixes, about a handful per plant. I think the only time it would smell is if big wet clump were allowed to ferment. The odor of Milorganite keeps the rabbits out of my yard. . . . .usually.
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Postby eastwood2007 » Mar 19, 2007 4:57 pm

Wow! Great ideas! Do you think it would be too much to use Milorganite and alfalfa meal? At what rate do you put the Milorganite on Chris? Can you use it more than once a season? I like easy, but I want my hostas to be their very best!!!! :D Mary Ann, I like the way you make your tea....I could get into that! I also like the alfalfa meal for container plants.
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