User avatar
Emerald
Full Member
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:23 pm
Location: Virginia Mountains

Switching from synthetic fertilizers, need help please.

Since I have come to this forum I have learned much about the synthetic fertilizers and need to ask a few questions.

How do I go about this change in my flower gardens? I have been using miracle grow every two weeks and I do have beautiful flowers but want to start using things like bone meal, blood meal, and compost. Can I just switch? Do I need to also get a regular granulate fertilizer to spread around?

I have all my beds smothered in mulch and need to know how to go about putting these things in and how often. Should I pull the mulch back and sprinkle around the plant? Should I water then pull the mulch back around? Can I do this change for everything including roses?

Sorry, you have a convert on your hands here and I need as much advice as possible. Get me through this season I just might be a prow by next year.
A chance not taken could be a chance you missed. Love deeply, laugh out loud and drink wine every chance you get!!!

User avatar
CharlieK
Senior Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 8:32 am
Location: Covington, LA USA

Hmm. We use Miracle Grow, too. I guess I'll do a search for "synthetic fertilizers" and see how bad they are. I will be interested in this thread as well.
I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs. Addison

User avatar
Emerald
Full Member
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:23 pm
Location: Virginia Mountains

CharlieK wrote:Hmm. We use Miracle Grow, too. I guess I'll do a search for "synthetic fertilizers" and see how bad they are. I will be interested in this thread as well.
I was extremely shocked at what synthetic fertilizers do to your soil. I have been gardening for over 25 years and back when I was a kid I would follow my grandmother around while she worked her flower and vegetable gardens. Until I moved a top this mountain I had no idea what poor soil. Even living in places where the soil was rich I had to replace the soil in my flower beds about every four years. I had always used synthetics and didn’t realize that they put nothing in to better the soil. They only feed the plants. Living here the synthetics are not enough to keep my plants alive. I had gotten the idea I had lost my green thumb. In reality I was fighting a loosing battle. I would buy beautiful plants, top soil and plant. For the first part of the summer I had beautiful flowers then about mid-summer everything started dieing off no matter how much I nursed them. I can completely see why I had the troubles. I am doing it from scratch this year and working to build my soil and feed my plants all at once. I have heard everything from fertilizer is fertilizer to its just a gimmick to get your money…….well if I recall my grandmother never owned a bottle of liquid “syntheticâ€
A chance not taken could be a chance you missed. Love deeply, laugh out loud and drink wine every chance you get!!!

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Miracle Grow actually sells compost now too. That shows that there is a niche in the market for the product but, what is exciting is that there is an ever growing movement towards organic gardening and permaculture.

We have lots of threads on organic gardening and ammending the soil.

And the really neat thing about organic gardening is that if you don't want to, you don't have to spend any extra money. A lot of soil ammendments are free.
Feed the soil, not the plants.

User avatar
Jess
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:50 pm
Location: England

Re: Switching from synthetic fertilizers, need help please.

Emerald wrote:Since I have come to this forum I have learned much about the synthetic fertilizers and need to ask a few questions.

How do I go about this change in my flower gardens? I have been using miracle grow every two weeks and I do have beautiful flowers but want to start using things like bone meal, blood meal, and compost. Can I just switch? Do I need to also get a regular granulate fertilizer to spread around?

I have all my beds smothered in mulch and need to know how to go about putting these things in and how often. Should I pull the mulch back and sprinkle around the plant? Should I water then pull the mulch back around? Can I do this change for everything including roses?

Sorry, you have a convert on your hands here and I need as much advice as possible. Get me through this season I just might be a prow by next year.
Hi Emerald :D
I switched over about 10 years ago. I am completely organic now.
I would wait until the autumn on your flower beds. To add compost in the summer can be a waste of time as it gets so hot that the organic matter breaks down too fast for the plants to make full use of it.
Start in the autumn by adding a sprinkling of bonemeal around each plant. Do not overdo it as too much is as bad as too little. Then add your mulch of compost and manure. Pull your bark mulch (is that what you mean by mulch?) back, spread compost and manure in a circle around each plant but not right up to the base. Give each plant about 2 inches depth then push the bark chip back. I do not use bark chip or woodchip at all. I just top my soil twice a year with compost and added manure.
In the Spring feed your plants with blood, fish and bone and add another layer around them. Do this just before your soil starts to warm so it is ready for them to use the minute it does.
Unlike veges you do not want to overfeed or you will get lush foliage at the expense of the flowers. This is all I do each year unless a plant looks a little sickly then it gets a dose of something (seaweed extract, chicken pooh etc.) just to give it a boost.
Roses can be treated in exactly the same way as all other plants but they do benefit from a little wood ash added to the soil.
The main difference with natural food and synthetic is natural breaks down slower so your plants have a little over a long period. This means less work for you and stronger, disease resistant, more robust plants.
One more thing. If you add a new plant to the garden put a little Blood fish and bone in the planting hole.
Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing."

User avatar
CharlieK
Senior Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 8:32 am
Location: Covington, LA USA

Okay, I use containers for my plants. Will this procedure work to rejuvenate the soil at the end of the growing season? If this has been covered in the "Containerized" forum, I will go there and read. I am new and have a lot of reading to do! Please feel free to tell me where to go, literally! Thanks. :D
I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs. Addison

User avatar
Emerald
Full Member
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:23 pm
Location: Virginia Mountains

Thanks Opabinia, I had looked for a tread that would tell me step-by step what I needed to do and couldnt find anything. There is a sea of info here so I probably over looked my answer somewhere.

Jess I cant thank you enough for your instruction!! I will just continue with my flowers and plan for organic in the fall. I think if I start planning now I will have everything I need by fall and spring of next year. I can see how much easier gardening will be this way. Its a head-ach with chemicals. I have also found a site where I can order the fish and seaweed so I am trilled about that.

I mulch with wood mulch. Its not green its normally pretty fine and very dark. I have also been using leaves and pine needles. I have a small pile from last year that has turned to black rotten dirt but I put it to close to the woods and now its full of roots. (weeds I figure) I am hoping to have a bin before long to decompose stuff in.

Again thanks for the step-by-step instructions. I know it takes time to answer these post and your time is the greatest gift you can give someone. :D
A chance not taken could be a chance you missed. Love deeply, laugh out loud and drink wine every chance you get!!!

User avatar
Jess
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:50 pm
Location: England

Emerald wrote:
Again thanks for the step-by-step instructions.
You are very welcome :D
Emerald wrote:
I know it takes time to answer these post and your time is the greatest gift you can give someone. :D
What a lovely thing to say, thankyou. :D

Something I should have said is not to use fresh manure, always composted (aged) although you probably knew that already.
Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing."

User avatar
Emerald
Full Member
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:23 pm
Location: Virginia Mountains

Jess wrote:
Emerald wrote:
Again thanks for the step-by-step instructions.
You are very welcome :D
Emerald wrote:
I know it takes time to answer these post and your time is the greatest gift you can give someone. :D
What a lovely thing to say, thankyou. :D

Oh goodness, no thanks needed. This is the one gift that I have always valued above anything. Time is something no one can take away once given. When someone takes time and values you enough to give it there is nothing more priceless. I learned a lot in the past 42 years of my life but this I found means more to me than money or riches.
Something I should have said is not to use fresh manure, always composted (aged) although you probably knew that already.
I had the pleasure of finding out what fresh manure does a few years ago. I had bought many different kinds of veggie plants and had a wonderful bed dug and cleaned. I worked all day getting everything just right and decided since I had goats that would be the perfect thing to put around all my plants. Needless to say the next morning I had to start all over again with new plants. Live and learn.
A chance not taken could be a chance you missed. Love deeply, laugh out loud and drink wine every chance you get!!!

doccat5
Green Thumb
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:48 pm
Location: VA

You can also make yourself some compost "tea". You can use a burlap bag or multilayered cheesecloth. A heaping shovelful of finished compost, tie the bag shut. Add it to a 5 gal or larger container and add water. Allow your "tea" to steep. You can use that as a side dressing for all your plants.

I've been doing organic gardening for over 20 years and can't remember the last time I bought a commercial fertilizer. I use it for everything including our fruit, nut trees and my roses.

It's the way to go! :)
doccat5

I'd rather be gardening!

User avatar
Jess
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:50 pm
Location: England

CharlieK wrote:Okay, I use containers for my plants. Will this procedure work to rejuvenate the soil at the end of the growing season? If this has been covered in the "Containerized" forum, I will go there and read. I am new and have a lot of reading to do! Please feel free to tell me where to go, literally! Thanks. :D
Sorry Charlie. I didn't mean to ignore you.
Yes you can use your own compost mix for pots. Just make sure you have a good nutrient balance in it as potted plants will be affected more if you don't. Sieve the soil too so you get a nice fine mix. If they do not need repotting just refresh. Scrape away as much compost as is easy off the top of the pots, add your homemade compost and a little bonemeal.
Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing."

User avatar
Emerald
Full Member
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:23 pm
Location: Virginia Mountains

doccat5 wrote:You can also make yourself some compost "tea". You can use a burlap bag or multilayered cheesecloth. A heaping shovelful of finished compost, tie the bag shut. Add it to a 5 gal or larger container and add water. Allow your "tea" to steep. You can use that as a side dressing for all your plants.

I've been doing organic gardening for over 20 years and can't remember the last time I bought a commercial fertilizer. I use it for everything including our fruit, nut trees and my roses.

It's the way to go! :)
Oh how cool! Thanks for that info. I will give it a try. I am guessing steep means sit over night? Or longer? I had seen differnt sites and others hear talking about using "tea" and was afraid it would be something over my head to mix. Quite simple. Yippy!!!!

Anything to work smarter, not harder. I would enjoy staying out of Lowe's and garden stores also.

Doccat5 I see you are also from VA. I wont ask where but wonder what big city you are close too. It would be nice to find some folks in my neck of the woods.

Many thanks!
A chance not taken could be a chance you missed. Love deeply, laugh out loud and drink wine every chance you get!!!

User avatar
JPlovesflowers
Senior Member
Posts: 132
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:36 am
Location: Northwest Arkansas

Thanks for the post

Emerald,
Thanks for a great post and to all of you who have responded. I have learned so much. I am wanting to get away from synthetics as well, and your instructions have been so helpful. I have learned so much over the years by just watching the soil and my plants and how they respond. I am in the process of removing all of the landscaping fabric that my landscaping guy insisted upon installing when we landscaped our yard. I gave in because he was the "expert". Here is what I have learned in year 3 of the process: 1. the fabric barrier traps moisture in and doesn't allow the soil to breathe. 2. the barrier keeps the mulch and natural compost I put on top from amending the soil beneath. 3. many of the plants send out huge sponge roots above the weed barrier that I'm assuming are trying to get moisture and nutrients, which means the plants are probably much less efficient than if they were making roots down deep (again my assumption) 4. There are no earthworms under the mat. Above the mat I am finding small to medium worms, 1 large one today (the first one ever here) but under there are none, and the soil does not appear to be alive.....I've just kind of learned that terminology from the research I've done this year. I didn't really put all of that together before now. 5. We have bermuda grass and that is supposedly why we installed the weed barrier, but the bermuda grass rhizomes actually embed themselves in the fabric, so when you pull the grass out of the beds, you get the grass but not the rhizomes and so the grass comes back in a matter of days... This has all been a great lesson to me. In the future I will trust my "gut" when making decisions such as these. Hopefully what I have learned may help someone else as well.
JP :D
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to plant and a time to uproot. Eccl 3:1&2b

Return to “Flower Gardening & Garden Design”