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Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Posted by suburbangardenMD 7 (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 28, 12 at 8:04

When I brew up my weekly compost tea this year, I want to add fertilizer to increase its effectiveness as a foliar spray. I also want to fertilize when I water...didnt do it regularly last year! I am learning. My question is in regard to "organic" fertilizers such as fish fertilizer or anything organic that comes in liquid form. Is this immediately available to the plant? Or is there still a breakdown process necessary?

Also, would crushing organic fertilizers to powder form and disolving in my tea or soil drench make them immediately available?

Surprising I had decent sucess last year with MG potting mix, regular watering, regular foliar application of worm tea, but very irregular fertilizer application which I now understand is key. Its amazing how strong the "desire" to reproduce is in a plant. I didn't really follow a fert schedule outside of the fairly weak tea, applied as a spray and an occassional soil drench. Cool stuff...


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Most organic fertilizers require either microbes or highly acidic soil to make the nutrients available. Even if growing in a pH 4 medium (not recommended!) very little nutrients will be released. There is a very small amount of nutrients available immediately, but the majority will get locked away until microbes eat, or they will just be leached out.
It is very hard to get a stable colony of microbes in a container (I use heavily composted, high c:n, living 'humus', and even still the microbes don't last very long), they sort of wax and wane, there will be a thriving colony, then die, and return again. Relying on their steady digestion is a bit unwise.
Compost teas and compost in general (for very short term pots) is beneficial because of the other natural chemicals it contains, but the microbes will not be able to do a very consisten job.
If you feel that you must use only organic, consider adding fish, horn and hoof, and blood meal to your compost, then the tea will be a natural fertilizer, or add the compost itself (there will still be heavy loss of nutrients because not all of it will break down, and if you don't transplant after six months do not add compost, the compaction is too great).


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

I use Dr. Earth's 3-3-3 liquid in all my containe-grown veggies that are planted in soilless mixes. (Some grow in Al's mix. Some grow in Mel's mix.)

My plants never look like something growing with miracle grow, but they all produce lots of wonderful tasting fresh homegrown veggies which is all I really care about.

But organics aren't easy... I live in Northern California and we have a relatively mild climate. I don't know if my solution would work in a climate that had snow for several months in the winter.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

The MG comment is funny. A few years ago I did an experiment with tomato plants. I used four plants for each area, one was prepare using only organic materials (greensand, manure, bone meal, blood meal, horn and hoof, phosphate rock, seaweed extract, and humic acid, all omri certified), the other using regular fertilizer regiments. They all reached about the same hight (~12') and girth, no conclusive difference in yeild or taste. The only difference was the way in which they grew: the artificial ones grew in vigorous spurts interrupted by down times, the organic were steady and consistent. Which ever you choose, as far as I am aware, there is no real difference as far as the plants are concerned (just don't burn them with the artificials).
I really wish I had pictures. To this day I still use a mix of both and love the results, but in containers I seem to have problems in pure organic, though I have not tried any of the liquid concentrates.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 28, 12 at 21:52

Whenever I think about organic (fertilizer) molecules in aqueous suspension, I envision a chain link fence as the cell wall & me trying to push basketballs through the holes in the fence. ;-) I'm saying that for the smile I hope the picture brings, but there's more than a grain of truth in it.

Al


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Tapla...it seems I am reading conflicting explanations of liquid form organic fertilizer. Some seem to say the liquid ( blood meal, fish fert, etc. ) is readily available. Your basketball through the chainlink fence analogy would suggest you don't agree. You believe the liquid form fert's still need microbial breakdown? I don't disagree, it would just seem that the liquid ferts would be more readily available, maybe not as available as synthetic though. Any thoughts?

Bob1016...It sounds like your test showed that in the end the same results would be reached but with organic you would need a more consistent schedule of ferts, water, etc. as there would be less margin for error when the plants are growing in a slow and steady fashion. Any slowdown in the delivery of nutrients would seem to be harder on the plants. Is that what you saw, or did I read into your post to much?


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

All the frets in my old experiment were worked into the ground prior to planting, the only thing that was added mid growth was Epsom (I know it's only allowed in certain organic situations but I wasn't looking for FDA approval) and compost.
I am unsure if liquid organic frets are more available, but I do know that *most* organic frets require breakdown via microbes or natural chelation with organic acids.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Got ya'...I am not trying to be "certified" organic at all, this is mostly for fun. Trying to grow with all "natural" amendments and fertilizer. I know even the term "natural" can be defined in many ways.

Whats interests me the most about "organic"gardening is not really the container culture, its more the breakdown and percentages of organic amendments year to year. I am definitely fascinated by it. Just trying to keep it simple and use as many of the same ferts, amendments, etc. in the containers as I do in the ground. They are very different growing conditions and I definitely understand that a container is a difficult place to try and establish a "soil food web". I will be planting only annuals in my containers again this year, so I think there is more room to error and still end up with some veggies. I really blew it last year with just mg mix and almost no additional fertilizer and still had quite a bit to eat. If I was trying to grow anything in that mix again it would be a compacted mess I am sure.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

If you really want only natural frets in your containers, I would suggest using compost tea and a source of humic and fulvic acids in your "fertigation". That way there are microbes to breakdown the fertilizer (they will probably die after a week, but they will work until then), and the acids will help chelate some of the metals in the organic mix.
I agree totally, it is incredibly interesting to learn about haw the materials are broken down into useable forms, I also love to learn about how the plants use all of these nutrients. Growing pure hydroponic, or pure organic will make you learn more about plants than you would learn in a few years of normal gardening, and, to me, it is fascinating.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Hydro-organic is a good choice, like earth juice. I stay with reg. fertilizers in containers for good reason.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

The plan is to, apply a foliar application of worm tea weekly as I did last year and also add a liquid fertilizer concoction to the water trough of my swc setup. I was considering adding something slow release to the container mix itself as well ( this being where a true organic setup may be compromised ) or I may stick with some organic slow release in the mix, still up in the air.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Like a lot have said, I have had better results with basic fertilizers then with trying to use organics in containers. I have used hydro-organic to basic compost teas and now I just use miracle gro water soluble fertilizer. Dyna gro is the best choice. Not saying you can't grow organic in pots.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

So, my the question that keeps rolling around my head is, if organic ferts in liquid form are readily available, is the reason for using the synthetic the concentration? Is it an issue of convenience? It would take a serious mix of liquid organic fert to equal the concentrations of NPK in the synthetic liquid fert like MG. Am I on the right track?


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

I don't think all of the available nutrients in organics are available at the normal rates. Organic fertilizers do contain a fair amount of nutrients, the problem is that only a small percentage is available at any one time, the reason being is that it takes a while for the microbes and acids to make these nutrients available. In container gardening, where microbes can not be relied upon, this steady supply of nutrient can become intermittent at best.
In a nut shell, I would not recommend using organic fertilizers to supply all of the macronutrients. I have had success using greensand to supply most of the micronutrients, but I use synthecs to supply all macronutrients and certain micronutrients that are needed in larger amounts.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

I am definitely leaning to a combination of synthetic and organic in the containers this year. I am confident that the few in ground areas I have will work out again without anything synthetic, but my confidence in an organic container setup is diminishing by the day. Maybe I will mix it up and experiment to see what I can get.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

"I am definitely leaning to a combination of synthetic and organic in the containers this year. I am confident that the few in ground areas I have will work out again without anything synthetic, but my confidence in an organic container setup is diminishing by the day. Maybe I will mix it up and experiment to see what I can get. "

Then save yourself the time and go out and get Botanicare pure blend pro grow 3-1.5-4 it has Ca and Mg you just need micro which can be done with earth juice micro blast. Those two is all you will need. Botincare will not need microbes as it is hydro-organic, it has carbonates it is half organic.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

I will look into that, thanks.

Sounds like a good option. Now I need to learn about hydro-organic's!


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Lol some of these gardeners have hard time understanding they make hydro-organic which will not need microbes, glad you are willing. You do not need to know much about them besides they cost more but produce healthier crops. Like I sad, it is a matter of "how much" healthier.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

I didn't know that they made such ferts. I wonder how they were made, I know you can make a compost pile very high in nutrients and use the tea as a fertlizer, the microbes have already made the nutrients available. Interesting.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

"I didn't know that they made such ferts. I wonder how they were made, I know you can make a compost pile very high in nutrients and use the tea as a fertlizer, the microbes have already made the nutrients available. Interesting."

Yes and you would have to make the compost tea which is a big mess and takes forever. Try running compost tea in a hydro system lol ;) These fertilizers are predictable and have lables, teas you don't know what you will get. If I wanted to know how much produce I can grow in a given amount of containers that can be done using stable hydro-organic fertilizers, I cant tell what I will get with compost teas.

If I asked the many that use Botanicare and said why not just use tea, they would look at me like I have 10 heads.


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Compost teas are not all that big of a mess to make. I brewed up a batch of worm tea weekly and had a good system down. Worm castings/vermicompost went in pantyhose along with powdered egg shells, coffee grounds, old socks( kidding )...aearated it for 48 hours, sometimes added some "food" like honey, sometimes not. It must have worked though because my plants produced with no additional ferts, and little amendment to the soil other than compost added in the Spring. This was not intentional, I was new to proper soil amendment and container growing...crazy right?


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

I will be growing heirloom tomatoes in a perlite medium in "bato buckets." One idea is to drip Neptune Harvet fish and seaweed fertilizer using a hi 2500 fertigator. I'm foreseeing a need to use a filter realizing that Neptune Harvest contain solids. I'm also concerned about the rate of nutrient absorption and possibility of leeching through the perlite medium. Any comments/concerns would be appreciated. Thanks,

Josh


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RE: Water Soluble Organic Fertilizers

Well, because this old post has been brought up again I might as well point out at what I said was wrong.

"Lol some of these gardeners have hard time understanding they make hydro-organic which will not need microbes, glad you are willing."

^This may be one of the dumbest things I have ever said, but I said a lot of false things so....

"You do not need to know much about them besides they cost more but produce healthier crops. Like I sad, it is a matter of "how much" healthier."

^ I clearly did not understand science there... :)


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