Anyone heard of Jack's Classic fert?

cyn_sJune 6, 2011

Can't find Foliage-Pro around here, even at hydoponics store. Best nursery in Knoxville uses Jack's Classic. Website says "More professional growers have used this product for all their growing needs than any other formula." NPK (on any of their products) certainly doesn't match Al's recommendation at all.

Any thoughts? Thanx!

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greentiger87

I know it works much better than miracle grow, but you're right - the ratios are a little kookie. In terms of chemical composition, it's fantastic. Made by the same company that used to make "Peter's" fertilizers before the Scott's company bought it - very highly regarded.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 4:06PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Jack's Classic is a brand name like Dyna Gro or Miracle Gro. It is a well regarded company, but its products are made up of the same basic chemicals as products from all the other big name players. There are dozens of formulations of Jack's Classic with different ratios of N-P-K. The all purpose version is 20-20-20, with a ratio of 1-1-1, which includes most, but not all trace elements.

If you are looking for something like what Al (tapla) and many others on this forum recommend, Foliage Pro with a ratio of 3-1-2, you might find it easier to find the version of Miracle Gro with 24-8-16. Any fertilizer with a ratio close to 3-1-2 -- like 30-20-10, 9-3-6, 12-4-8 -- will work if it also has most or all of the trace elements or micronutrients. Al recommends Foliage Pro because it has all the micronutrients including calcium and magnesium. Most fertilizers don't include those last two. That's why he also recommends adding lime to your potting mix, because it does have calcium and magnesium.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 5:08PM
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greentiger87

Okay, I feel stupid now. >.So unless the *amounts* of micronutrients in Jack's Classic are more ideal (which I doubt), they don't have any advantage over Miracle-gro. I guess I have to chalk up my better results with Jack's Classic to biased expectations and becoming a better gardener as time passes.

In terms of just the ratio of the macronutrients, N-P-K, both foliage-pro and all-purpose miracle gro are 3:1:2. Miracle gro is apparently twice as concentrated in the macronutrients, though I don't know how this works out after dilution.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 12:52AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I've been gardening for a long time and probably bought tons of different fertilizers, including versions of MG that do include trace minerals and those that don't. Several different formulas (ratios) were labeled "all purpose." In my experience, only the larger packages, sometimes called "professional," list trace minerals on the label. I believe that those that don't list them on the label don't have them. I think that is the law in the United States.

One reason I am so grateful to Al is that he has convinced me that all plants use essentially the same ratio of nutrients. So I discarded or gave away the fertilizers that were too far off the mark, like "bloom boosters" and specialized fertilizers for African violets and orchids.

There is one possible reason you might get better results with certain fertilizers, and that is the source of the nitrogen. I believe Nitrate nitrogen is better than nitrogen from ammonia or urea. It's also more expensive. MG 24-8-16 has mostly Urea and no nitrate. FP has mostly nitrate and no urea.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 10:08AM
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cyn_s

Thanx for the input. I didn't really think the J Classic sounded right. I have an aversion to MG, but didn't realize they have a 24-8-16 ratio. Maybe I'll have to go w/ that.

While trying to locate a suitable fert locally, I've been asked by a couple of people at nurseries a question (valid in my opinion) I don't know how to answer: If 3-1-2 is the ratio plants need then why isn't that what manufacturers make?

I certainly don't doubt Al that all plants need the same ratio; but I'm still struggling w/ the new paradigm. I haven't yet started at the beginning of the Fert. posts but I'm sure that will be very explanatory.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:31PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

The answer is supply and demand. You can sell a lot more fertilizer if you can convince people they need a different fertilizer for each plant. Just go to a drug store and look at all the different vitamins they sell. Do you think the manufacturers make all those different formulas because we need them?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 8:14PM
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cyn_s

I agree w/ you about different formulas being a marketing gimmick; but why wouldn't the "all around" formula for each company be 3-1-2 or something close? What do they gain by doing 10-10-10 or 50-50-50?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 9:49PM
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greentiger87

At least one of the reasons is that not everyone agrees that all plants need a 3-1-2 ratio. Even if there was solid science (I don't know much about this), science takes a long time to filter into the collective consciousness. And there definitely are legitimate uses for fertilizers with different ratios. Nitrogen is also the most expensive of the three nutrients, from what I understand, making 3-1-2 more expensive to produce.

Did you know stretching before exercising is definitively linked to increased injuries and pain? Warming up by doing light aerobic exercise and doing slower versions of the relevant body movements is helpful, but stretching is not. Scientists confirmed this decades ago. It has yet to drift into the collective consciousness of some trainers and athletes, let alone the general public.

There are lots of other examples of this, I'm just particularly familiar with those in sphere of healthcare.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 10:15PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

It is a common myth that a balanced fertilizer is one with equal parts of N, P, and K. How that myth got started I don't really know, but it is firmly entrenched in the hobby, so that's what companies market. I guess if people saw a 3:1:2 formula and a 1:1:1 formula both marketed as "all around" formulas, they'd choose the 1:1:1 because that's what they've been told to use. Check out the first post of this thread to see just how strongly demand affects fertilizer formulas.

The uselessness of high P fertilizers

I'm just thankful that Dyna-Gro sees fit to offer a scientifically sound formula in addition to their higher demand products.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 10:34PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Penfold2: Thanks for that link about high P fertilizers. Very interesting comment from the Dynagrow CEO.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 7:26PM
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cyn_s

Penfold2, I agree w/ Ohiofem - that was very interesting.

Greentiger8, I had wondered if "not everyone agrees that all plants need a 3-1-2 ratio," and "if there was solid science" about it. I've been thru some of the fertilizer threads and read Al's info about this; but I couldn't figure out whether there is science behind it or "just" Al's extensive knowledge and experience. It would certainly seem that universities and fertilizer companies would have definitively determined this a long time ago!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 5:59PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Science is literally "just extensive knowledge and experience." Read Al's page and you will see that he has studied this for years, gleaning knowledge from textbooks, online sources, in college courses, through experimentation and experience, and so on. I don't know why you think some clerk in a garden center necessarily knows more than Al about the "best" fertilizer. Furthermore, I don't know why you would think all fertilizer manufacturers or all scientists would agree on something as complex as what is the "best" fertilizer for all plants. I happen to work with scientists in a university, and I can tell you there are as many opinions about the things they study as there are scientists studying them. I have tremendous respect for people like my scientist colleagues and Al who try to understand such complex subjects and share their knowledge with others.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 6:27PM
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cyn_s

Whoa Ohiofem! What on earth???

I'm very aware of Al's incredible expertise and generosity, and thanked him profusely in a recent email. Why do you think I put the word "just" in quotation marks in my previous post? To make the point that using the word "just" when talking about Al's knowledge and experience is a bit of an oxymoron! I don't know why the defensiveness but I can assure you it's unwarranted.

I never said I thought "some clerk in a garden center necessarily knows more than Al about the 'best' fertilizer;" where did you get that? I doubt there's a clerk in *any* garden center that knows more than Al. But the question they asked is legitimate, and I figured if I could get an answer then it would be a great opportunity to educate future employees I might encounter.

I can think of two recent instances right off the bat where I educated "some clerk in a garden center" about an aspect of gardening. They were appreciative, and I felt good about being able to pass on something I had learned that was helpful to them. And just so you know, I can't count the number of times I've raved about GWF to other "plant people" - employees especially.

Science as I was asking is not "just extensive knowledge and experience." It's also controlled experiments. I was simply asking whether there was hard science - i.e., controlled experiments - to back up what Al has learned and experienced for himself. If there is then it would seem to me a 5-1-2 ratio would get the best results, therefore that's what people would rave about, therefore that's what would sell the best, therefore that's what would be in companies' best interest.

If no one has proven this scientifically then I'm just surprised. It seems like such a basic thing.

As for there being a "best" fert. you seem to contradict yourself. On the one hand you say, "One reason I am so grateful to Al is that he has convinced me that all plants use essentially the same ratio of nutrients." In your last post you say "I don't know why you would think all fertilizer manufacturers or all scientists would agree on something as complex as what is the "best" fertilizer for all plants." So which is it: 3-1-2 or something much more complex?

Not sure what your point is about having "tremendous respect for people like" scientists and Al - why would you not? Why would anyone not?

BTW, altho I cringed when I picked it up off the shelf, I bought MG today because you suggested it. I have to get *something* on my plants and I haven't had time to order DG. At least I feel better than if I were using 10-10-10 or something comparable.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 10:48PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I am sorry, cyn. I did not mean to offend you. What I intended to get across is the idea that plant nutrition is a very complex subject. To me, it seems unreasonable to think that scientists would have settled the question of what is the best fertilizer. And in a capitalist culture where there are more choices available every day, it also seems unreasonable to expect all fertilizer manufacturers to offer the same product. As a lay person who wants to grow the best plants within the constraints of my budget, my time and my ability to find the right ingredients, I am happy to take the advice of someone I trust who tells me he has conducted controlled experiments and made certain conclusions. It seems a little disingenuous to wonder if there is science behind his advice.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 3:56PM
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greentiger87

I had convinced myself to not post further in this thread until I read that last sentence. I wasn't "wondering" whether or not there was science behind Al's advice. I was suggesting that even if there was a clear scientific consensus on the subject (and I suspect there isn't), it would still take a long time for that to become common knowledge among the general public.

I also have to strongly disagree that "science is literally just extensive knowledge and experience". Science is a process of systematic investigation with controlled experiments, the conclusions of which are then subjected to vicious peer review and tests for reproducibility. Even then, there are often multiple views and conclusions with significant bodies of evidence, waiting for explanation, reconciliation, or replacement with a new paradigm. If you trust Al's practical advice without personally researching the available evidence, that's fine. I do too! But as a scientist myself, I'm hardly ready to assume its the truth, or even suggest to someone else that it's the only conclusion supported by the evidence.

I haven't yet had the time, inclination or the lifetime of dedication that Al has had to personally investigate these conclusions. But I strongly suspect that Al's recommendations about 3-1-2 fertilizers are simplified for practicality, not for extreme scientific veracity. In other words, in the vast majority of situations, 3-1-2 is one simple formula that will be very close to ideal. But with a subject as complex and stochastic as living systems, no question is ever truly that simple. For example, if it is true that all plants use nutrients in the same ratio, this doesn't necessarily mean they should be *supplied* in the same ratio. We know that different plants are adapted to take up nutrients at different rates depending on the specific environment they evolved in (pH, oxygenation, etc). It's also very likely that as with most other living systems, there's a relatively broad range of possible conditions and nutrient availability that a specific plant can thrive in, with almost indistinguishible end results.

Finally, even if I was questioning the nature of the scientific evidence behind Al's recommendations, there'd be nothing disingenuous about it. It's precisely because I consider him a scientist that I would do so. One of the primary things that distinguishes science from faith is that all conclusions are subject to harsh skepticism, even when submitted by individuals with authoritative experience.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 6:04PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Wow! I really don't want to cause a ruckus. I like you people a lot. I don't think we really disagree about much. I was reacting to this statement from cyn:

Greentiger8, I had wondered if "not everyone agrees that all plants need a 3-1-2 ratio," and "if there was solid science" about it. I've been thru some of the fertilizer threads and read Al's info about this; but I couldn't figure out whether there is science behind it or "just" Al's extensive knowledge and experience. It would certainly seem that universities and fertilizer companies would have definitively determined this a long time ago!

What Cyn said in her later post suggests that I misunderstood her meaning. I am sorry about that. Please, let's make up and be friends.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 7:46PM
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greentiger87

"Please, let's make up and be friends."

Done and done. :D

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 8:28PM
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cyn_s

Yay! We're all cool! It really is too bad that misunderstandings can happen so easily when limited to the written word. Nor did I ... want to cause a ruckus!

I asked about the scientific evidence probably mostly out of frustration b/c I was having trouble finding a 3-1-2 fert. locally. It's like when I'm in a new town trying to find a grocery store that sells food which isn't full of sugar, white flour, salt, fats, etc.: I want to scream, "Why is it so hard to get food that's good for you?!?" So when employees asked me why I wanted /needed that type of fertilizer, I wanted to respond, "Well, b/c that's the ideal ratio for most plants." But since lots of people have probably never heard this I doubt it would be effective. I figured if there was scientific evidence I could reference it would serve two purposes: 1) changing the clerk's opinion about how odd my request was; and 2) educating the clerk (as I said earlier).

It gets so frustrating sometimes trying to find something that for good reason (IMO) should be readily available. Like ingredients for the 5-1-1 mix, for example. The first time I bought sphagnum peat I got it home and found out it had MG in it! (This was despite having - I thought - thoroughly read the labelling.) With the Dyna-Gro, I simply wanted to locate a local source, go get it, and be done with it. But oh no, it just couldn't be that simple.

Point well taken about the complexity of plant nutrition. If Al and so many others on GW have found 3-1-2 ideal, and there's a way to provide it without too much trouble, then that sounds like a good way to go to me! I just wish *that* was the most common ratio, and you had to search out the Great and Wonderful Brilliant Blooms and More Super Duper Deluxe 25-200-50 fertilizer. :-)

(Point well taken also about scientific proof not necessarily being common knowledge or even commonly accepted - very true.)

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 11:00PM
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