Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What Fertilizer Do You Use?

Do you use the same fertilizer for everything?  Do you use different fertilizers for different types of plants, i.e., perennials, annuals, vegetables, shrubs, evergreens, trees, containers,etc.?  I do not have room for a compost pile or container so I use an organic granular (Espoma) 5-3-3 and an organic granular for acid loving plants such as hydrangeas, azaleas, dogwoods and evergreens.  I am sure there are some I am missing, but these are the varieties in my garden.

I do use super bloom liquid formulas in my containers which are produced by Peter's and Schultz's with a high middle number.  When you have containers that are really putting out blooms, you need to pinch and cut back every once in awhile to keep them going until fall.

Carolyn Gail of Sweet Home and Garden Chicago had some very good advice in regard to fertilizer.  Her first recommendation is to do a soil test.  I must admit I am negligent in this area having purchased a kit many years ago that I believe is still in my garage.  Carolyn also informed me that I can purchase some very good compost mixes, "Nature's Finest," and "Back to Nature," are two of the brands on the market.

I have heard from some bloggers regarding their favorites (many like the time-release products).  Let me know if you have something that works well for you because we all seem to spend a lot of money and time on fertilizers.


Anonymous said...

Dear Eileen, I am so very fortunate to have room for a compost area, over which J takes infinite time and trouble, and it is this, almost alone, which I use to enrich my plants. After a couple of years of rotting down, turning and watering it produces a mix of which I am quite proud.

All my containers are fed fortnightly with a tomato feed which I find excellent for flowers!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Edith,
I never thought of using tomato food, but we are promoting the same end - flowers. I think I have some in the garage. I can grow so few tomatoes, a bag of food lasts a few years.


Sweet Home and Garden Carolina said...

Me, again, Eileen. Working at the garden center I get spoiled with the many new and improved fertilizers they carry. Fox Farms is one of the finest. The trend now is to not only fertilize but to introduce beneficial fungi such as mycorrhizae and mircrobes that help combat disease as well.

The Happy Frog All Purpose (5-5-5-) fertilizer, for instance, has 20 kinds of beneficial mircrobes in addition to kelp meal, humus, vitamins and amino acids.

See what I mean? After using that good stuff everything else seems ineffective.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks again Carolyn,

We need all the new information we can get especially with the fertilizer prices going higher and higher. The organic one I have been buying has almost doubled in price since two years ago.

I really do like a 5-5-5 rather than lower numbers after the nitrogen, but have had trouble finding it.

Thanks again for the info.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Garden Girl,

Your post seems to be off in cyberspace. It hasn't shown up yet. I read the post but I didn't write down the name of the fertilizer. If it doesn't show, could you please let us know again.


Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I'm not very good at all about fertilizing. I try to put fresh compost down each Spring and use organic fertilizer on my roses. Whatever you're doing with your bulbs it seems to be working, they are beautiful!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Catherine,

The pictures in this post are of my daughter-in-law's garden which we planted in the fall. We both use the fertilizer for bulbs that is sold by VanEngelen and John Scheepers. We just broadccast it as we plant the bulbs.

Your garden looks beautiful so that compost is working!


Larry said...

Your bulbs are beautiful! I just noticed that I have lots of tulips coming up in one of the hosta gardens... I do seem to remember planting them now that I've thought about it for a couple days! I have a number of 'lost' plantings in the gardens... they'll probably show up eventually as I run across them by accident! Larry

Gatsbys Gardens said...


These are bulbs I planted at my daughter-in-law's garden. Each year she asks me to plan a design, and we all have such small gardens it is a delight to do this. I get to pretend I have a big garden between my son's and my daughter's garden!


garden girl said...

Hi Eileen, I don't think I mentioned this in my (lost) comment - our shade garden is fairly large, and I don't do much fertilizing there. It's a mix of shrubs, natives, perennials, and bulbs. I use bulb food when I plant or divide bulbs, and have been feeding daffodils that were coming up blind for years, since before I came here my husband would cut them back too early. It's taken them awhile to recover, but every year more of them bloom.

I don't usually fertilize the perennials or shrubs the first year, since fertilizer encourages top growth and I want the plants to focus on strong roots. Too much fertilizer and the top growth outpaces the roots - not good in a dry shade bed, unless you want to do a LOT of watering!

Instead I amend the soil with compost - sometimes mushroom compost, other times my own finished compost, and sometimes I'll even dig in unfinished compost and kitchen scraps - bury it in the soil where it composts much more quickly than in a bin or pile.

In containers and in the veggie garden, and sometimes in the shade garden for established plants, I use the Gardens Alive group of fertilizers. They're not strictly organic, but they are all natural, made from stuff like alfalfa, bone meal, and chicken manure, and highly biologically active. It's slow-release, and they make different specialized fertilizers for shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, (most)veggies, and tomatoes. (The tomato fertilizer is great for peppers too.) Their fertilizers are kind of stinky when you apply them, but they work great and the smell dissipates quickly.

I order them when they offer $25 off on a $50 order, or when they offer free shipping. I've been using Gardens Alive fertilizers for at least 15 years - love them.

Darla said...

These combinations are just beautiful. I use mushroom compost, some compost from our kitchen, a water fertilizer and a bloom booster from time to time.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Garden Girl for getting back with all of that wonderful info. I have written down the name of the fertilizer and will look for it online.

Burying scraps in the garden would be a great idea for my yard, except I am afraid my dog would did them up - he's a terrier!


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Darla,

I do use Mushroom Compost also usually with new perennials and the Bloom Busters on my containers.