organic rose care

nastarana(5a)March 1, 2012

I know I need a soil test. What will that tell me, and what kind of test should I have done? Some are quite expensive.

What kinds of ferts and soil amendments are you using?

I have some azomite, which I got last year for the vegetables. Are any of you using that on roses? What about sea minerals? Does rose growing soil need to be "remineralized"?

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I'd start with the complete soil analysis from Cooperative Extension. It's $15, and covers pH, potassium, phosphorus, and the major micronutrients. To get anything useful from more involved testing you'd have to have a specific concern. Once you have the soil test results, then you add specific things to fix deficiencies. If you don't have any deficiencies, but high levels of nutrients, the only thing needed is nitrogen.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 9:02AM
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Thank you for the response.

With high levels of nutrients, supposing I were so fortunate, why would extra nitrogen be needed at all?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 9:43AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Nitrogen levels are transient. It leaches out easily. So just because the test says there is enough now doesn't mean there is going to be enough six months from now.

A lot of places don't even bother testing for nitrogen at this point. They just give a blanket recommendation to add more at regular intervals.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:12AM
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mike_rivers(z5 MI)

Nastarana, most soil tests don't report nitrogen, mostly because there is no test that will predict how much of the organic nitrogen in the soil will become available to plants in a given span of time. This doesn't seem to be a big problem, either for farmers or rose growers. Basically, you just add nitrogen, every year, in amounts based on your crop and your soil and on your past experience or maybe just on the fertilizer label.

The Azomite you mentioned is sodium calcium aluminosilicate, which is a mined clay, either closely related or identical to Kaolinite, Fullers Earth, Bentonite or montmorillonite. Its fertilizer analysis is 0/0/0.2, which means it's not a fertilizer at all. It does contain a variety of minerals - but I would say no more than every other type of clay on the planet. It does have some uses, mostly as an anti-caking agent for livestock feeds (The Azomite web site makes it seem as though it's added to livestock feed because it's an animal nutrient - it isn't) Essentially, I think every company which mines any of the above-named clays, attempts to supplement its income by selling its product to home gardeners as a magical soil amendment.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:36AM
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Thanks, mike rivers. I used some azomite last year on the veges and couldn't see that it made much difference. Maybe I should try some controlled experiments this year.

So, organic sources of N might include blood meal and compost?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:49PM
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predfern(z5 Chicago)

Milorganite is a widely available organic fertilizer. Blain's Farm and Fleet sometimes has a good price on it in the spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: Milorganite FAQ

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 12:33AM
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mike_rivers(z5 MI)

Milorganite is an organic fertilizer in the sense that it is derived from living things. It is not an organic fertilizer in the now more usual sense that it is not accepted for growing organic-certified crops. My usual rose fertilizer is a once-a-year feeding of 6 month Osmocote (I chose a variety with a low Phosphorous number in an attempt to preserve the soil micorrhizal fungi) and a monthly feeding with a cup or two of alfalfa meal. The Osmocote is clearly not an organic fertilizer but I suspect it could be called an Eco-fertilizer in the sense that it consumes fewer resources and applies its nutrients more efficiently than probably any other fertilizer - including the alfalfa.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 10:21AM
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