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Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 11, 09 at 23:13

This subject has been discussed frequently, but usually in piecemeal fashion on the Container Gardening forum and other forums related. Prompted originally by a question about fertilizers in another's post, I decided to collect a few thoughts & present a personal overview.

Fertilizer Program - Containerized Plants II

Let me begin with a brief and hopefully not too technical explanation of how plants absorb water from the soil and how they obtain the nutrients/solutes that are dissolved in that water. Most of us remember from our biology classes that cells have membranes that are semi-permeable. That is, they allow some things to pass through the walls, like water and select elements in ionic form dissolved in the water, while excluding other materials like large organic molecules. Osmosis is a natural phenomenon that is natures attempt at creating a balance (isotonicity) in the concentration of solutes in water inside and outside of cells. Water and ionic solutes will pass in and out of cell walls until an equilibrium is reached and the level of solutes in the water surrounding the cell is the same as the level of solutes in the cell.

This process begins when the finest roots absorb water molecule by molecule at the cellular level from the surface of soil particles and transport it, along with its nutrient load, throughout the plant. I want to keep this simple, so Ill just say that the best water absorption occurs when the level of solutes in soil water is lowest, and in the presence of good amounts of oxygen (this is where I get to plug a well-aerated and free-draining soil), ;o). Deionized (distilled) water contains no solutes, and is easiest for plants to absorb. Of course, since distilled water contains no nutrients, using it alone practically guarantees deficiencies of multiple nutrients as the plant is shorted the building materials (nutrients) it needs to manufacture food, keep its systems orderly, and keep its metabolism running smoothly.

We already learned that if the dissolved solutes in soil water are low, the plant may be well-hydrated, but starving; however, if they are too high, the plant may have a large store of nutrients in the soil, but because of osmotic pressure, the plant may be unable to absorb the water and could die of thirst in a sea of plenty. When this condition occurs, and is severe enough (high concentrations of solutes in soil water), it causes fertilizer burn (plasmolysis), a condition seen when plasma is torn from cell walls as the water inside the cell exits to maintain solute equilibrium with the water surrounding the cell.

Our job, because you cannot depend on an adequate supply of nutrients from the organic component of a container soil, is to provide a solution of dissolved nutrients in a concentration high enough to supply nutrients in the adequate to luxury range, yet still low enough that it remains easy for the plant to take up enough water to be well-hydrated and free of drought stress. Electrical conductivity (EC) of, and the level of TDS (total dissolved solids) in the soil solution is a reliable way to judge the adequacy of solutes and the plants ability to take up water. There are meters that measure these concentrations, and for most plants the ideal range of conductivity is from 1.5 - 3.5 mS, with some, like tomatoes, being as high as 4.5 mS. This is more technical than I wanted to be, but I added it in case someone wanted to search "mS" or "EC". Most of us, including me, will have to be satisfied with simply guessing at concentrations, but understanding how plants take up water and fertilizer, as well as the effects of solute concentrations in soil water is an important piece of the fertilizing puzzle.

Now, some disconcerting news - you have listened to all this talk about nutrient concentrations, but what do we supply, when, and how do we supply them? We have to decide what nutrients are appropriate to add to our supplementation program, but how? Most of us are just hobby growers and cannot do tissue analysis to determine what is lacking. We can be observant and learn the symptoms of various nutrient deficiencies though - and we CAN make some surprising generalizations.

What if I said that the nutritional needs of all plants is basically the same and that one fertilizer could suit almost all the plants we grow in containers - that by increasing/decreasing the dosage as we water, we could even manipulate plants to bloom and fruit more abundantly? Its really quite logical, so please let me explain.

Tissue analysis of plants will nearly always show NPK to be in the ratio of approximately 10:1.5:7. If we assign N the constant of 100, P and K will range from 13-19 and 45-70 respectively. (Ill try to remember to make a chart showing the relative ratios of all the other 13 essential nutrients that dont come from the air at the end of what I write.) All we need to do is supply nutrients in approximately the same ratio as plants use them, and in adequate amounts to keep them in the adequate to luxury range at all times.

Remember that we can maximize water uptake by keeping the concentrations of solutes low, so a continual supply of a weak solution is best. Nutrients dont often just suddenly appear in large quantities in nature, so the low and continual dose method most closely mimics the nutritional supply Mother Nature offers. If you decide to adopt a "fertilize every time you water" approach, most liquid fertilizers can be applied at to 1 tsp per gallon for best results. If you decide thats too much work, try halving the dose recommended & cutting the interval in half. You can work out the math for granular soluble fertilizers and apply at a similar rate.

The system is rather self regulating if fertilizer is applied in low concentrations each time you water, even with houseplants in winter. As the plants growth slows, so does its need for both water and nutrients. Larger plants and plants that are growing robustly will need more water and nutrients, so linking nutrient supply to the water supply is a win/win situation all around.

Another advantage to supplying a continual low concentration of fertilizer is it eliminates the tendency of plants to show symptoms of nutrient deficiencies after they have received high doses of fertilizer and then been allowed to return to a more favorable level of soil solute concentrations. Even at perfectly acceptable concentrations of nutrients in the soil, plants previously exposed to high concentrations of fertilizer readily display these symptoms.

You will still need to guard against watering in sips, and that habits accompanying tendency to allow solute (salt) accumulation in soils. Remember that as salts accumulate, both water and nutrient uptake is made more difficult and finally impaired or made impossible in severe cases. Your soils should always allow you to water so that at least 10-15% of the total volume of water applied passes through the soil and out the drain hole to be discarded. This flushes the soil and carries accumulating solutes out the drain hole.

I have recently switched to a liquid fertilizer with micronutrients in a 12:4:8 NPK ratio. Note how closely this fits the average ratio of NPK content in plant tissues, noted above (10:1.5:7). If the P looks a little high at 4, consider that in container soils, P begins to be more tightly held as pH goes from 6.5 to below 6.0, which is on the high side of most container soils pH, so the manufacturer probably gave this some careful consideration. Also, P and K percentages shown on fertilizer packages are not the actual amount of P or K in the blend. The percentage of P on the package is the percentage of P2O5 (phosphorous pentoxide) and you need to multiply the percentage shown by .43 to get the actual amount of P in the fertilizer. Similarly, the K level percentage shown is actually the level of K2O ( potassium oxide) and must be multiplied by .83 to arrive at the actual amount of K supplied.

To answer the inevitable questions about specialty fertilizers and "special" plant nutritional requirements, let me repeat that plants need nutrients in roughly the same ratio. Ratio is an entirely a separate consideration from dosage. Youll need to adjust the dosage to fit the plant and perhaps strike a happy medium in containers that have a diversity of material.

If nutrient availability is unbalanced - if plants are getting more than they need of certain nutrients, but less than they need of others, the nutrient they need the most will be the one that limits growth. There are 6 factors that affect plant growth and yield; they are: air water light temperature soil or media nutrients. Liebig's Law of Limiting Factors states the most deficient factor limits plant growth and increasing the supply of non-limiting factors will not increase plant growth. Only by increasing most deficient nutrient will the plant growth increase. There is also an optimum combination?ratio of the nutrients and increasing them, individually or in various combinations, can lead to toxicities.

When individual nutrients are available in excess, it not only unnecessarily contributes to the total volume of solutes in the soil solution, which makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water and nutrients, it also often creates an antagonistic deficiency of other nutrients as toxicity levels block a plant's ability to take up other nutrients. E.g., too much Fe (iron) can cause a Mn (manganese) deficiency, with the converse also true, Too much Ca (calcium) can cause a Mg (magnesium) deficiency. Too much P (phosphorous) can cause an insoluble precipitate with Fe and make Fe unavailable. It also interferes with the uptake of several other micro-nutrients. You can see why its advantageous to supply nutrients in as close to the same ratio in which plants use them and at levels not so high that they interfere with water uptake. I know Im repeating myself here, but this is an important point.

What about the high-P "Bloom Booster" fertilizers you might ask? To induce more prolific flowering, a reduced N supply will have more and better effect than the high P bloom formulas. When N is reduced, it slows vegetative growth without reducing photosynthesis. Since vegetative growth is limited by a lack of N, and the photosynthetic machinery continues to turn out food, it leaves an expendable surplus for the plant to spend on flowers and fruit. Plants use about 6 times more N than P, so fertilizers that supply more P than N are wasteful and more likely to inhibit blooms (remember that too much P inhibits uptake of Fe and many micro-nutrients - it raises pH unnecessarily as well, which could also be problematic). Popular "bloom-booster" fertilizers like 10-52-10 actually supply about 32x more P than your plant could ever use (in relationship to how much N it uses) and has the potential to wreak all kinds of havoc with your plants.

The fact that different species of plants grow in different types of soil where they are naturally found, does not mean that one needs more of a certain nutrient than the other. It just means that the plants have developed strategies to adapt to certain conditions, like excesses and deficiencies of particular nutrients.

Plants that "love" acid soils, e.g., have simply developed strategies to cope with those soils. Their calcium needs are still the same as any other plant and no different from the nutrient requirements of plants that thrive in alkaline soils. The problem for acid-loving plants is that they are unable to adequately limit their calcium uptake, and will absorb too much of it when available, resulting in cellular pH-values that are too high. Some acid-loving plants also have difficulties absorbing Fe, Mn, Cu, or Zn, which is more tightly held in alkaline soils, another reason why they thrive in low pH (acid) soils.

So, If you select a fertilizer that is close in ratio to the concentration of major elements in plant tissues, youre going to be in good shape. Whether the fertilizer is furnished in chemical or organic form matters not a whit to the plant. Ions are ions, but there is one major consideration. Chemical fertilizers are available for immediate uptake while organic fertilizers must be acted on by passing through the gut of micro-organisms to break them down into usable elemental form. Since microorganism populations are affected by cultural conditions like moisture/air levels in the soil, soil pH, fertility levels, temperature, etc., they tend to follow a boom/bust cycle in container culture, which has an impact on the reliability and timing of delivery of nutrients supplied in organic form. Nutrients locked in hydrocarbon chains cannot be relied upon to be available when the plant needs them. This is particularly an issue with the immobile nutrients that must be present in the nutrient stream at all times for the plant to grow normally.

What is my approach? I have been very happy with Miracle-Gro 12-4-8 all purpose liquid fertilizer, or 24-8-16 Miracle-Gro granular all-purpose fertilizer - both are completely soluble. I incorporate a granular micro-nutrient supplement in my soils when I make them (Micromax) or use a soluble micro-nutrient blend (STEM). I would encourage you to make sure your plants are getting all the micro-nutrients. More readily available than the supplements I use is Earth Juices Microblast. Last year, I discovered a fertilizer by Dyna-Gro called Foliage-Pro 9-3-6. It is a 3:1:2 ratio like I like and has ALL the primary macro-nutrients, secondary macro-nutrients (Ca, Mg, S) and all the micro-nutrients. It performed very well for me.

When plants are growing robustly, I try to fertilize my plants weakly (pun intended) with a half recommended dose of the concentrate at half the suggested intervals. When plants are growing slowly, I fertilize more often with very weak doses. Its important to realize your soil must drain freely and you must water so a fair amount of water drains from your container each time you water to fertilize this way. This year my display containers performed better than they ever have in years past & they were still all looking amazingly attractive at the beginning of Oct when I finally decided to dismantle them because of imminent cold weather. I attribute results primarily to a good soil and a healthy nutrient supplementation program.

What would I recommend to someone who asked what to use as an all-purpose fertilizer for nearly all their container plantings? If you can find it, a 3:1:2 ratio soluble liquid fertilizer (24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6 are all 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers) that contains all the minor elements would great.

How plants use nutrients - the chart I promised:

I gave Nitrogen, because it's the largest nutrient component, the value of 100. Other nutrients are listed as a weight percentage of N.
N 100
P 13-19 (16) 1/6
K 45-80 (62) 3/5
S 6-9 (8) 1/12
Mg 5-15 (10) 1/10
Ca 5-15 (10) 1/10
Fe 0.7
Mn 0.4
B(oron) 0.2
Zn 0.06
Cu 0.03
Cl 0.03
M(olybden) 0.003
To read the chart: P - plants use 13-19 parts of P or an average of about 16 parts for every 100 parts of N, or 6 times more N than P. Plants use about 45-80 parts of K or an average of about 62 parts for every 100 parts of N, or about 3/5 as much K as N, and so on.

If you're still awake - thanks for reading. It makes me feel like the effort was worth it. ;o) Let me know what you think - please.
Al

Here is a link to the first posting of A Fertilizer Program for Containers

Another link to information about Container Soils- Water Movement and Retention


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks Al!! I am printing this one for reference...We really appreciate all the time and effort you put into explaining everything...so completely.

Thank you for this very informative and helpful thread!!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

This is GOOD. STUFF.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Saved to my clippings! Everytime I read it I learn more. It is hard to take in all the facts the first or second time. I recommend re-reading often.

Al, you are awesome and so generous!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I have been using Miracle Grow 12-4-8 liquid fertilizer from the local Wal-Mart. I am hoping to find some liquid Cal-Mag (2:1 calcium to magnesium additive), sulfur, and a good source of trace elements as STEM is not available. One of my indoor chinese fan palms is starting to show some magnesium deficiency. I am about ready to grab some calcium-magnesium 2:1 fizz tablets from the local pharmacy's health additives. Just not sure if I am that desparate yet. I would rather get liquid cal-mag, sulfur, and a good trace element source. Do you have any suggestions for a good source of calcium, magnesium, and sulfur without having to mix a multitude of different products?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Do you have any suggestions for a good source of calcium, magnesium, and sulfur without having to mix a multitude of different products?

If you replace the Miracle Grow product with Dyna Grow Foliage Pro 9-3-6 you won't have to mix anything. It has calcium, magnesium and sulfur in it.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al,

I finally found a good amount of "time", to look back at ALL your threads and posts, especially this one on fertilizing!

It was a priority..

Not only did it take several nights and days of reading, I got to say, it took alot of brain power, focus, and mental concetration too, something I have been lacking for quite a while..
Rest sure helps:-)

There are no words to describe how much we appreciate what you have taken the time to do for all of us here.

They say, you should make a book and sell it? If anyone here was to download all the precious info you have shared with us here, they would have that book, the way you designed it for, for free..:-)

Thankyou Al!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Worm's Way is closest source. With 1 US quart = 192 US teaspoons at $17.50 per quart. I could manage my indoor container plants for $0.18 per week, which is not too bad. I received a suggestion to switch to Dyna-Gro Bloom for outdoor fruiting plants when switching from vegetative growth to blooms and fruit. Also, it runs contary to advice on this thread, but Dyna-Gro 7-9-5 is recommended for vegetables should one only want to use one product all season.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 12, 09 at 17:24

First, you should be SURE you have a Mg deficiency before you fix it. ;o) Then, you need to ask yourself WHY Mg is deficient. It's entirely possible there are adequate amounts of Mg in the soil, but they are unavailable. pH issues or high levels of Ca would be suspect, along with an actual deficiency of the element.

If you want to add Ca, Mg, and S, you can use a combination of dolomite (Ca + Mg) and elemental S. This usually assures the ratio of Ca:Mg will be favorable. Alternately, you could use gypsum (Ca + S) and add your Mg via MgSO4 (Epsom salts). The later wouldn't be best in newly made acidic soils because it won't raise pH. This could lead to too much Fe/Mn availability, and because there is S in both the gypsum and Epsom salts that becomes more readily available @ low pH, a S toxicity.

STEM doesn't have Ca or Mg anyway, and Micromax only contains Ca. Earth Juice Microblast contains no Ca, but the good news is it has no S either. Using Microblast along with gypsum for Ca and S would be a nice strategy, too.

You don't need to mix anything with the FP 9-3-6, which makes it a really good choice for supplying everything from one container. You should still lime your soils though to make sure there is residual Ca available for uptake.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Container Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 12, 09 at 17:44

If you look upthread to the chart at the end of the OP, you'll see that plants use on average, 1/6 the amount of P as N. 7-9-5 would seem to have about 8 times more P than is needed (as a function of N usage). Even when we consider that P is actually listed as the % of P2O5 (phosphorous pentoxide) and we need to multiply by a factor of .43 to get the actual % of P supplied, it STILL has about 3.5 times more P than the plant will use. Since we fertilize so frequently in containers, leaching is not a significant factor with regard to nutrient availability.

The 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers appear at a glance to have about twice as much P as plants need (as a function of N usage), but when the .43 factor is applied, you can see that the actual amount of P in relationship to N is very close to 3N:.5P (note the decimal point), or 6:1. It's no accident.

Where leaching occurs in mineral soils and fertilizing is much less frequent, perhaps the 7-9-5 might be more appropriate, but I'll stick with the 9-3-6 in containers. I used it in several dozen flowering/fruiting applications and saw nothing to make me believe numbers/size of blooms/fruit were inhibited in any way. ;o)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al,

I have been following this discussion with much interest. Lots of information lucidly explained and very much appreciated.

Where I live (Ireland) MG 24-8-16 is readily available but Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 is not.
However what is available is another water soluble, Phostrogen 14-10-27 which also contains:
Magnesium Oxide
Calcium Oxide
Sulphur Trioxide
Boron
Copper
Iron
Manganese
Molybdeneum
Zinc

The NPK is a good bit off the 3-1-2 ratio but I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Kevin


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 12, 09 at 23:06

I think you'd be ok using it often at reduced concentrations, but I think better would be adding a wee bit of urea in the fertilizer solution when it wasn't too cool and cloudy. That way, you'd probably have a very good fertilizer - with N adjustability, too. ;o)

If you look closely at the ratio of P:K that plants use, you'll see they use about 3.5 times more K than P. Your fertilizer, after using the factors of .43 and .83 for the actual % of P and K respectively, has a ratio of 4.3:22, so your fertilizer has about 5x more K than P instead of the 3.5x plants use. That's not something you can't live with.

It's not too important, but CaO and MgO are not technically soluble. They both form suspensions or colloidal dispersions in water. The S compound is soluble.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Veeeeerrrrry Interesting. I wonder what concentration would work best in a SWC. I am thinking of using the Dyna-Gro FP 9-3-6.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al, Thank you for your information. My pH is around 7.8, which is on the high side. Also, these pots have not had their soil-less mix changed for a long time and have had no calcium or magnesium added. That plus my leaves are starting to look like the picture below that shows magnesium deficiency, brought me to believe magnesium was lacking. My "let's drive the car into the ditch" mentality was working for quite awhile. It's a case of trying to get my containers in shape after years of abuse that likely got me in "nutrients are out of whack" status that I am currently facing.

HawaiiEdu


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks, Al...much appreciated.

I will give it a try - and keep an eye on the N.

Must also thank you for advice gleaned from an earlier thread on root pruning Acers. Managed to rescue two of mine that were container bound that everyone told me that my only recourse was to replant them in the garden. Having given the roots a severe haircut, they are now both back to normal in the same containers.

Kevin


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Dyna-Gro Foliar Pro 9-3-6 really appears to be the best complete soluable fertilizer after reviewing several competing products. After reading about how plants use silica, I am wondering if silica should be added into the container mix.

Regarding JaG's comments, I found Clemson University stating "There are no easily accessible guidelines regarding the application rate of gypsum in a homeowner situation. It is sparingly soluble and so it is nearly impossible to over-apply. In the Western part of the United States, many crops grow just fine in soils that have naturally occurring, undissolved accumulations of gypsum throughout the soil. Generally, a homeowner can just sprinkle a fine layer over the soil surface and work it in. A general application rate is 100 to 150 pounds per 1,000 square feet."

This would have me working approximately 2.75 pounds of gypsum into each of my 22" diameter containers. As Epsom Salt would not seem to persist in the containers like the gypsum with frequent watering, I am wondering if fertilizing with a magnesium fertilizer like Dyna-Gro Foliar Pro would be enough to keep the available Calcium to Magnesium ratio in check. With sulphur in Gypsum, in Epsom Salt, and in Foliar Pro, my 8.2 pH well water might not be enough to keep pH where it needs to be. Any thoughts?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Another great post by A1, thank you. I have a couple questions concerning my situation. I'm using the 9-3-6 in my SWC's for various vegies. Flushing them once in a while is a good idea right, how often should I flush them (maybe once a month or once every three months)? Which leads to my next question. The water resevoir in my SWC's hold about 4-5 gallons of water, should I try to keep the water in the resevoir mixed at 1/4 strength with the 9-3-6? Or should I just feed them from the top at.....lets say.... 1/2 strength every week or maybe full strength every week?

Damon


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 13, 09 at 9:56

Jusme - 9-3-6 is a 3:1:2 ratio which is very close to what plants use and a very good, if not the best for most plants, starting point.

Kevin - glad you found the info useful - both for the Acers and the fertilizer.

Deep roots - the answer to your question, or at least an educated guess would depend in part on the balance of Ca:Mg in your irrigation water. If you are using a soil that is guaranteed to start out acidic (bark/peat) then liming is the way to go. If you are using something more mineral-based like the gritty mix, then gypsum/Epsom salts is better. You really need to either do some adjusting based on trial/error, or learn how your water stacks up if you want to really fine tune your nutrition. I can tell you HOW it works, but it's up to you to work with what you have & do the fine tuning. Everyone's situation will be a little (or a lot) different, so there is no one size fits all. ;o)

SG - think it's a good idea to flush even SWCs occasionally if you're using soluble fertilizers, but one of the reasons they work well is because you're not continually adding to compaction by top-watering - something of a catch-22. It sounds to me like 1/4 strength in the reservoir is a good choice, but I'll defer to one of the other guys who have more experience with the SWCs. Hopefully one of them will be along soon to add to what I offered.

Good luck to all. ;o)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

It sounds to me like 1/4 strength in the reservoir is a good choice, but I'll defer to one of the other guys who have more experience with the SWCs. Hopefully one of them will be along soon to add to what I offered.

While I can't claim what I do is 'the best', I simply make a full strength gallon of FP 9-3-6 and add it to the reservoir and top off with plain water. The SWC I have use either 3 or 4 gallon reservoirs so 1 full strength gallon results (initially) in a 1/4 or 1/3 strength solution.

Now Al, I do have a question. Up thread you indicated that the Calcium and Magnesium in FP aren't water soluble, but in suspension. Does this imply they won't readily wick upward with the water?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 13, 09 at 10:43

No - that was a comment about the CaO and MgO in Phostrogen 14-10-27 fertilizer, not FP. FP gets its Ca from CaNO3, which is the only soluble source of Ca for fertilizers (and why FP has a good % of it's N in nitrate form), and it gets it's Mg from a soluble source as well.

Al


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RE-: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I probably should have known that, but thanks for clearing that up for me.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thank you to all who helped with the Dyna-Gro FP 9-3-6 information. I plan to switch over to it from the MG 12-4-8. However, what suggestions do you have for the outside containers for a good slow release combination?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 17, 09 at 8:44

That's a more difficult question than it seems. You need to guard against two things when you combine a CRF with one that contains all the essential nutrients in proper proportions. Those things are too high a level of TDS/EC (too much fertilizer in the soil) and toxicity levels of the (primarily) micro-nutrients. Micro-nutrients need particular attention because the difference between deficiency and toxicity occupies a much smaller range than the macro and secondary macro-nutrients.

My first inclination, because you don't NEED the CRF is to forgo it altogether. Second, you might use a charge of something like Osmocote in as close to the same ratio as you can find and with the minors, and then simply reduce the application rate of the 9-3-6. I have done both in the past, but now rarely use the CRFs.

I'll look in a couple of texts & see if I can find any suggestions other than what I said. I may not, because advice will likely be crop-specific ..... except perhaps for some general advice about soils/nutrition for bedding plants.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

From what I gather, crf's are not a good idea for use with small containers because you dont know what the plant is getting when. I found something called "dynamite" at home depot that looks like a complete fertilizer with macro and micro nutrients but it is a crf.
If anyone has any experience with this brand any information would be helpful. The product seems like it will work very well despite being crf.

thanks


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 25, 09 at 20:43

CRFs have their benefits and drawbacks. I don't think the size of the container is as much a limiting factor as choosing the proper dose, the right fertilizer, and making sure it fits the application. There is as much difference between CRFs as there is between other fertilizers.

I don't often use them because I'm diligent about making sure I supply nutrients when they're needed and & like having control over my supplementation program. That said, some folks are very unsure of what their plants need and might look at CRFs as a blessing.

I include them in the soil recipes I share with you just to cover the bases - in case you forget to fertilize, but as noted, you really don't NEED them.

If you use the Dynamite with micro-nutrients, I think the best choice for a very high % of plants would be the All-Purpose Select 15-5-9 or the All-Purpose 18-6-8 formula.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Okay, I (after a lot of work that I obviously didn't need to do since Worm's Way is mentioned above!) found my source for DG Foilage Pro. Now my issue is figuring out HOW to incorporate into my watering. (Yeah its been a long couple of days, so I'm really lost again!)

I will be doing hose watering from inside the apartment to both the patios (if I can find a good adaptor that doesn't require too much brute force to get the aerator off).

Now I historically first over then under water as my physical issues come & go...so I guess the first question is...how often do I water with the 5:1:1 mix? I got the let it flow until it runs well through the pot thing...but is that watering only 1 time a week? How do they survive out in the heat & sun if only 1 time a week?

Second once I figure out the timing thing...how do I get the proper amount of fertilizer into each plant using the hose? I'm guessing there is an accessory of some kind or do I have to lug around containers of water? I'm honestly clueless here.

Thanks all!
Suz


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 3, 09 at 16:20

You always water when the plant needs it, and not on a schedule. I have plants that get a little water only twice during the winter, and some that get water every day of the year.

If you think you might be one of those that have trouble telling when a planting needs water, then use a wick with a little tail sticking out the drain hole. Make sure the wick is getting enough air circulation that it CAN dry, and then when it DOES feel dry, it's OK to water.

I use a 2 liter watering can for my small planting fertilizer needs. I generally mix fertilizer solution by the batch & then fill the 2 L container & apply it to the plants. It works well & the smaller container is easier to lug around than the 2 gallon one. I don't use a hose end sprayer/applicator.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al, I have been seeing a lot of self-watering container people with tomatoes that grow huge and do not fruit. I realize there are many reasons that this could happen. However, I hope you can help with one facet of this issue. In containers, isn't the nitrogen more migratory and short-lived than the phosphorus and potassium? When using solid fertilizers, would it be better to incorporate the phosphorus and maybe the potassium throughout the container mix evenly, then dose the nitrogen?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 20, 09 at 17:04

I had to think about this for quite awhile. ;o)

It's a hard question to answer, because there are multiple variables, but generally in container culture, it's advantageous to have our nutrients delivered in soluble form. This, of course, means they will be subject to leaching because of the moderate CEC of most container media - especially those with low bulk density like the 5:1:1 (or even the gritty) mix.

Generally, all the other elements are supplied as a comparative function of the amount of N delivered. I think that trying to decide HOW to supply P&K to ensure it's availability w/o supplying it in soluble form is complicated beyond anything I would want to tackle w/o sophisticated regular testing.

You CAN add some of the versatility you're looking for to a 3:1:2, 2:1:2, or to some degree, even a 1:1:1 ratio fertilizer by using a micro-nutrient supplement and reducing o/a supply of N by simply reducing the total amount of NPK supplied, and combining a soluble K supplement (or even including a little potash in the soil when you make it) to prevent K deficiencies due to the reduced rates.

Al



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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al, could you say a bit about insoluble fertilizers? I like to water with a hose (or with rain, which we are getting quite a bit of). I have a bag of MG Organic Choice 7-1-2, which I sprinkle onto the soil and then work in. Does that stuff, which is made from chicken poo, penetrate into the deeper layers of soil eventually? Do I need to be exacting about it? Should I follow the directions about using it once every two months or so?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 21, 09 at 8:58

W/o knowing much about this fertilizer, my first impression is that it is probably designed around garden use, rather than containers. Part of the N in the fertilizer will be immediately available and some will release more slowly as/if soil organisms act on it. It is very high in N, which means that if you apply only what you need to satisfy the plant's N requirements, you run the risk of P and K deficiencies. It actually contains more than twice as much N as the plant needs.

What you need to watch out for is: If you use this product when soils are cool or when micro-organism populations are low, it tends to remain in the soil, unavailable, but there. Because it's not available, you might see signs of N deficiency (usually chlorotic [yellowing of] old leaves) and be tempted to add more. Now, you have a double dose of a high-N product in the soil and the potential for plasmolysis (fertilizer burn).

So yes, you should follow directions carefully & avoid over-using. It will diffuse through the soil if you only incorporate it into the surface soil. I don't know what the 'burn potential' is for this fertilizer in direct contact with roots - you might read the package carefully to see if that is addressed.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi folks,
I plan on planting tomato's in 5 gallon plastic buckets using Tapla's 5:1:1 mix. I will use plastic 2 liter soft drink containers inverted in the soil for a constant water source. I plan on burying the container about half way and putting soil about 2" on the inside. I will fertilize each time I water by using rain water with 1 tsp. of Miracle Grow 12-4-8 per gallon.
What can I use for trace minerals in the original mixture?
Does this sound like I am close to doing it correctly?
Thanks,
Steve


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 23, 09 at 9:19

How are you planning to control the flow so it's any different than watering from a water can?

1 tsp of MG/gallon each time you water is pretty heavy use of fertilizer if you/re not continually flushing the soil, and it sounds like you won't be. Expect problems @ that rate.

Your secondary macros, Mg and Ca, will come from the lime. I use Micromax as an insoluble source of minors when I make soils, and STEM soluble for many applications - particularly in the second and third growth cycle of some plantings. Neither are particularly easy to find, but I can help if you write. You could also use Earth Juice MicroBlast in your fertilizer supplementation program, which you can buy online or from hydroponics stores.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi Tapla,
Thanks much for your comments.
I was under the impression an inverted plastic bottle would "automatically" release the correct amount of water as long as the bottles had water in them. If that isn't correct, I am glad to find that out now. Do you feel it best to water out of a watering can?
Also, I am glad to find out in advance I would have been over fertilizing.
As you can tell, I am very new to this.
It is wonderful to be this excited at my age.
Thanks again for your help,
Steve


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 23, 09 at 13:26

What determines how fast water gets out of the bottle is how fast air gets in. If you fill a bottle and tip it upside down, the water pours freely out. If you set the bottle with the opening on a flat surface, ALL water flow (practically speaking - I know there's the evaporation factor) out of the bottle stops. If you put the cap back on and drill a very tiny hole in it, then turn the bottle over, no water exits. If you drill increasingly larger holes in the cap, at some point water will exit the bottle as the gravitational flow potential (GFP)becomes greater than the surface tension that prevents air from entering the bottle.

If you turn the bottle over in the soil, the physical factors that come into play are very complex. The size of the soil particles have a bearing, as does the size of the opening in the bottle top (err - bottom, I guess) ;o).

Ideally, you'll want to experiment with the hole size. You'll want it to be small enough that the GFP is just barely enough to overcome the surface tension keeping air out. Then, water will flow slowly out of the bottle as air goes in. What you'll be depending on then, is the fact that the soil immediately around the opening of the bottle will be saturated (so no air can get into the bottle & no water out). Hopefully, this water will move away from the bottle via capillary action, moistening the rest of the soil and allowing enough air into the soil around the opening that air can enter the bottle to displace the water there.

This watering method won't work in soils that drain freely because there will always be air available in the soil to enter the bottle. Even with a small hole in the cap, the water will quickly drain from the bottle & through the soil.

If you analyze the idea, you'll see that it will only work in slow soils that already are too water-retentive to guarantee the best growth/plant health and don't need it, likely exacerbating a potentially existing problem - and it won't work in those free-draining, well-aerated soils that might benefit from the idea.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi esteban,
Consider a drip emitter connected to your inverted water bottle.
The water bottle would be suspended or staked above the soil level & then you are on gravity feed.
There are adjustable flow rate emitters & also emitters rated at various fixed outputs. Some emitters you can turn off; when want can turn them back on to suit your growing conditions.
Dripworks is the name of one vendor, you can find them online & research some options. The prices of individual emitters is now quite inexpensive.
For help calculating your system specifics ask the Garden Web "Irrigation" forum gang, they are very sympathetic.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Tapla & gringojay,
Once again, thanks for the help.
I now plan on watering over the top of the soil with a old fashioned watering can.
I'm sure I'll have more questions, but for now, they must wait.
Steve


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Well folks, I have waited long enough.
I will water with a watering can. My buckets all have many 1/4" holes in the bottom and a few along the lower sides. Should I use a wick to determine when to water the plants? If so, what size and what type of material...also, should the wick go up the middle of the bucket or just as long as it meets the soil.
Thanks again,
Steve


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 24, 09 at 21:52

The wick should be inserted at the lowest part of the container. It doesn't matter if it's centered ..... in fact, if you insert the wick near the side & tip the container so the hole with the wick in it is down, it actually drains more perched water from the container. When you're using a wick for drainage, it doesn't matter much what it's made of. An old shoe lace is fine. I like strips of rayon mopheads (from Ace Hardware). They work very well.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks Al
Steve


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al,
I just completed building my first batch of soil as per your Small Batch recipe, with the exception of no CRF's and no micro nutrient powder. The small batch fit my 5 gallon plastic buckets perfect! I'll bet you planned it that way.
I filled the container with rain water and the wick and all the holes seem to be doing what they are suppost to do.
Now I will purchase Miracle Grow 12-4-8 and a tomato plant and sit back and enjoy life. I plan on putting one plant per week until I have 4 or 5 plants.
Would you recommend waiting to start my fertilizer program until I have the tomato transplanted into the bucket?
Thanks,
Steve


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 25, 09 at 15:44

Well .... good luck to you! I would wait to fertilize for a week or so after you plant into the final container. You should fertilize regularly though, when your plants are in the smaller container waiting to be potted up.

Take care.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

You said to wait to fertilize for a week after potting up. What about the "starter fertilizer" put out by Miracle Gro and others?

Alice


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks a million to everyone who posts on this container forum. I would never have even tried to do veggies in containers without all of this info and support.

After reading all of these fertilization threads, there's one thing I'm still sort of confused about--Dyna-Gro Foliar Pro 9-3-6 looks good, but because of time and expense, I opted to start with MG 24-8-16 soluble for my first year, and maybe branch out next year. I made Al's 5:1:1 mix with the recommended amount of lime, so I think I'm good for Ca & Mg. I was prepared to hunt down a separate source for micronutrients, but upon inspecting the label, I noticed the MG has some already.

I put the numbers into the same scale as Al's above table of ideal values to compare (see below). Some are still lacking, but some are already too high. SO...my confusion now is, would adding STEM or earthblast or something like that cause me to overdose on some of these elements? Should I try to add the lacking elements individually?

I have pretty low expectations for my first try at veggies, so I will be happy if the things even grow more leaves--But I figure since I'm making a hobby out of it... :)

Thanks everyone,
Maria

------------
**Al's**
N 100
P 13-19
K 45-80
S 6-9
Mg 5-15
Ca 5-15
Fe 0.7
Mn 0.4
B(oron) 0.2
Zn 0.06
Cu 0.03
Cl 0.03
M(olybden) 0.003

**MG 24-8-16 soluble**
N 100
P 33
K 67
S -----
Mg -----
Ca -----
Fe 0.63
Mn 0.21
B(oron) 0.08
Zn 0.25
Cu 0.29
Cl -----
M(olybden) 0.002


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, May 17, 09 at 21:00

Hi, Maria. It looks like you're pretty good at math. ;o) I think the numbers aren't as bad as you think, though. I'm assuming you're thinking that the P and K %s are too high, but an extra step is required to calculate the actual concentration of either P or K in fertilizer blends. A fertilizer formula reports phosphorus as P2O5, not actual phosphorus, and potassium is reported as K2O, not actual potassium. To convert P2O5 to P, you need to multiply the P2O5 % value by 0.43, and to convert K2O to actual K, multiply the K2O % value by 0.83. When you've made those calculations, you can see it puts us solidly within the range I posted in the chart. ;o)

As far as the other elements (other than NPK), Ca & Mg are covered with the lime. The MG 24-8-16 has Fe, Mn, Z, Cu,. Peter's Professional 24-8-16 soluble (readily available, though perhaps not as common as MG) also has Mo and B, so if you want to avoid using a micro-nutrient supplement, why not use that? Glaringly absent then is S. You can buy a small bag of agricultural S and you're good to go. It's extremely unlikely any of the remaining nutrients would be in short supply.

You could also just use the lime in the 5:1:1 mix & use the FP 9-3-6 and be done with the worrying. ;o)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

But the worrying is half the fun :)

That makes total sense, I forgot about the whole P & K molecular thing. About the micros--The MG 24-8-16 label I have says it does have B and Mo, but the Boron is very low, (.08 vs your ideal .2) it was actually the one I was most concerned about.

If you think that Boron disparity isn't too great, I think I'll do lime, sulfer, and the MG for year one. Maybe try something else next year.

Thanks so, so much for taking the time. So few people are willing indulge my craziness.

Best,
Maria


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, May 17, 09 at 22:05

My notes on the chemical properties of conifer bark ....
Chemical properties of Conifer Bark:
Very high P and sufficient K
Deficient Ca, Mg, and S
Sufficient micro-nutrients, except for B and Zn
Potentially high Fe:Mn ratio

I know you'll want to worry some more, and I won't wreck your good time, but if it was me - I wouldn't worry. ;o) (teasing, of course)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Information overload!!!

I haven't ever even fertilized my house plants other than a few foliar feedings w/ my AVCT and the MG container mix they were first potted in, many 2 years ago.

Thanks Al!

No seriously, thanks Al.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi Al,

I'm using the MG 24-8-16. I planted out a little over two weeks ago and watered well at that time. The plants didn't need watering for 2 weeks, and when I did water, I fertilized (about 1/2 strength). I meant to dilute to 1/3 but made a mistake when I was mixing up the solution.

My question is- I don't seem to be needing to water as frequently (just yet) as I had expected. Will it be ok to fertilize every time I water (I thought you said that you did this, but can't remember now), at perhaps 1/4 strength with the MG product? I used dolomitic lime in my mix, and I am going to get some S to add to my fert program, which should have all of the major and micros covered.

Thanks!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al, have you ever used any of the other Earth Juice products? Would their "Grow" liquid fertilizer along with the microblast be a good all-purpose fertilizer? I do not like Miracle Grow or any chemical fertilizer for that matter.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, May 20, 09 at 14:09

It probably isn't any different than other organic soil amendments/fertilizers, and there's no reason you can't combine it with Microblast. Read the label on the 'Grow' to see if you're duplicating the minors, though - by using them in combo. Let us know how you like it.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks, AL. Will do.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, May 20, 09 at 18:29

Oops, I missed your post, RTG. Sorry. ;o)

If you're watering thoroughly when you DO water - so that plenty of water is moving through the soil and out the drain hole, you can water at 1/8-1/4 strength each time you water, but not if your soil is slow and you have to water in sips. Hold off on the fertilizing when average soil temperatures (you'll have to guess) are below 55* or above 85*.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I've read through all of this and am wondering what the general consensus is re a product called 'Algoflash'. I have used this and ONLY this for a few years every time I water which is almost every day that it doesn't rain and here in Illinois that can be every day in July or August. I also use 'Soil Soup' - a worm compost tea - and spray it on everything. I've had amazing results with both but I've never seen any post about the Algoflash.

Westy


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi Al et al.,
I have had all the plants potted up for a few weeks now. The catnip/catmint/catgrass is doing great. I have been underfertilizing the large container with bronze fennel and nasturtiums, and they are doing well, although the purple basil I had also planted in there died. Another pot with coral bells and garlic chives is doing so-so; the chives are still quite skinny and while the coral bells are blooming, the flower stalks aren't as long as the ones planted in the ground, and the bottom leaves are dying off even after two waterings with Foliage PRo (one half-strength, then one one-quarter strength, a week apart). Yesterday I went to pull off the blossom buds on the Thai basil, and almost pulled the plant out of the pot; it hasn't sent out any new roots into the gritty mix! I sprinkled a tablespoon of alfalfa meal onto the Thai basil and watered it and the coral bells/garlic chives and a holy basil which is growing very slowly with a gallon of water with a pinch of Epsom salts added. I am holding off watering with the FoliagePro until it has been one week. any suggestions?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 22, 09 at 8:50

Westy - there are a limited number of salts that can be used to supply the nutrients necessary for growth. AlgoFlash All-Purpose 6-6-6 wouldn't be any different than any other 1:1:1 ratio fertilizer that contains micro-nutrients. I believe it said it contains Mg, but it said nothing about Ca, which could potentially be a problem. Foliage-Pro 9-3-3, on the other hand, DOES contain Ca and all the other nutrients in a more plant-friendly ratio. I would select the FP hands down over the AlgoFlash. I'm glad your worm tea is working well for you. ;o)

Libby - I've honestly never seen a plant that doesn't do VERY well in the gritty mix, so I'm pretty sure it's a cultural factor other than the soil - it's really very root-friendly. The first think I think of is that you might be over-watering? Try sticking a wick in the drain hole & water only when the wick feels dry or at the very first sign of wilting.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I use to use CRF in my pots, but now I use Foilage pro..I love this stuff!!

I too like to be in control now of my plants needs, and like to know that for sure they are getting fed when I feed them.

The only down side is that you HAVE to be consistant at it. You can not let waterings go by without fertilizing everytime....

I know many here like to put the hose to their plants outside as do I, especially when there is a lack of rain, and this is so easy, in fact my plants seem to relish their showers along with a good drenching.
But, as soon as I am done hose watering, I take a 2 gallon container filled with water and fertilizer, then hand water anyway to put the nutrition back in the soil..

Thanks so for for this very informative thread!!!
I would of never have been able to accomplish so much if it hadn't been for everyones input and involvement..;-)


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al, I skimmed the thread and didn't see this mentioned, but I apologize if it's been addressed before. In your chart you list Ca and Mg as being used at equivalent rates (1:1 ratio), yet it's recommended to fertilize at something like a 3:1 ratio. Why the discrepancy?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, May 27, 09 at 23:26

Well, you would think that because garden lime (dolomitic lime) has a solubility of about 1/3 oz/100 oz of water and is comprised of both CaCO3 and MgCO3 (calcium and magnesium carbonate) that they should become available in the same ratio as the dolomite dissolves. The fact of the matter is that the CaCO3 fraction of the lime has a solubility of about .0015, while the MgCO3 fraction is soluble at a rate of about .175, or roughly about 125X more soluble than the Ca fraction.

With dolomite being about 20% Ca and 10% Mg, you would also think that they would be released in about a 2:1 ratio, but what actually occurs is: at first, during the first few months, the release rate is about 1:1 or a little greater, then slowly shifting to around a 2:1 release at some point in the soil/planting's life, and then after 9 months to a year to 2:.05 or even less. This issue can be very acute for plants grown in the same soil for more than a single growth cycle.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al,
Here I am finally,(you helped me with the Micromax,when I couldn't find it)now I need a little more advice.
I am using 5:1:1 mix, and I am going to try the gritty mix on some things,soon.
I may have gone "fertilizer crazy" in all the excitement. I put your recommended dosage for crf and micromax in the 5:1:1, do I still use miracle-gro? Will that be overdosing on npk and micros?(Growing a wide assortment of plants)
Another question, if I forgot which batch I added micromax to will an additional top-dressing of it(in pot) be a bad thing?( I am now armed with 50lbs. of micromax!)
Hopefully I will settle down soon, I am just so excited about your soil mixtures.
I work at a small nursery and am trying to get them to try this. So I don't want to relay this wonderful system wrong.

margaret


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 29, 09 at 8:52

Whether it's appropriate to fertilize or not depends on the amount of CRF you incorporated when you made the soil. Many on the forum add a small amount of CRF and regularly add a soluble fertilizer at a reduced rate throughout the grow season.

Over-application of micro-nutrients is a bad thing. Micro-nutrients generally have a much narrower range between deficiency/toxicity levels, so it's important not to over-apply.

Lol - I have a friend who is a retired teacher who started with a hobby nursery that's grown into quite an enterprise. He was growing mostly in peat-based soils, but I eventually got him straightened out & he's extremely happy for having made some adjustments. I hope things work as well for you. ;o)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks Al,I put 2 cups CRF as per your "big batch" recipe.
I'll skip the top dressing of micromax just in case I added it to the mix. Got a notebook to keep track of who is potted in what, in case of another "senior moment" episode.

Margaret


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 29, 09 at 20:26

Look at the bright side - next year you'll be able to hide your own Easter Eggs.

Al

"The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time." Friedrich Nietzsche


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

What's up everyone! I've got a few questions, so Al or anyone who has experience, thanks for reading...

1.) I have a plant called Miracle Fruit. At least two different people have reported it dying after being given Miracle Gro, and everyone tells me "it needs very little fertilizer". I'm using a variation of the 5-1-1 mix (more peat though and gypsum + epsom, everyone claims this plant does better in very moist soil). Should I fertilize it or just hold off? I have some FP but I'm worried I'll see the same effects as people with the Miracle Gro. I've heard success though with Azaela fertilizer and Fish Emulsion...I have both. Possibly using the Fish Emulsion as a foliar feed. To clarify, the Azaelea fertilizer comes in because this plant requires a very low PH simular to blueberries. I've also considered giving it some "chelated iron/soil acidifier". Any take on this? I've been taking the wait and see approach, and it's been maddeningly slow growing but that's what I heard to expect.

2.) This is easier...I have started some Goji berries in pure peat pellets with netting around them. How big before transplanting them to the 5-1-1 do you think?

3.) This is a little off topic, but would you recommend FP for the ground also?

Thanks
Greg


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oh yeah

Oh yeah, I forgot to ask the scientific reasoning behind not fertilizing right after a plant has been transplanted, if you'd like to clue me in.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, May 30, 09 at 10:55

I think I answered these questions not too long ago. Perhaps another forum & not you, though.

There is absolutely no reason the plant should succumb after fertilizing with MG. I think someone is transferring blame for their inabilities to satisfy the plant to a scapegoat - the fertilizer.

I think you're right to be using the gypsum/E-salts because of the pH issue with this plant. I think I would use MG 30-10-10 to help ensure against normal upward pH creep of the soil + a little Pro-TeKt 0-0-3 to bring up the K levels. Alternately, you could skip the Pro-TeKt and use a tbsp of potash/gallon of soil when you make it, though the plant would probably benefit from Pro-TeKt's silicon content, too.

I don't think the fish emulsion is going to make a huge difference as opposed to MG fertilizer or another soluble. I actually think you'd be less happy if you were to use it exclusively, because of sporadic delivery to the plant caused by fluctuations in soil microbial populations. It's actually pretty ineffective as a foliar fertilizer because plants are able to move nutrients in (mostly) ionic form into the nutrient stream, and only a very small % of FE's nutrients are able to enter the nutrient stream through leaves. You then have to consider plants on a plant by plant basis and decide if foliar feeding is of any benefit to that plant at all. Plants with waxy cuticles are often unable to diffuse nutrients through their 'skin', leaving stomata as the only (inefficient) secondary pathway. A very good case could be built around the fact that since MG and other soluble fertilizer's nutrients are provided in ionic form, that they would be much more effective than FE in foliar applications.

If you're using or intend to use MG fertilizer or any other fertilizer that contains Fe/Mn, you won't be experiencing any deficiencies of either element. I wouldn't recommend chelate applications because Fe/Mn toxicity at the low pH you are maintaining would be a real possibility. I think you're right to 'wait and see'.

Move the plants to the 5:1:1 mix ASAP. Though it's not to say that you won't have good luck, I've never had any luck growing on any plant in peat pellets. I abandoned their use after a season or two of frustration.

Unless you have had a soil test, fertilizing plants in the ground is pretty much a crap shoot. You can guess at what nutrients might be low based on geographical tendencies, but you'll probably run square into Murphy's Law. You can take the shotgun approach and fertilize with a 1:1:1 or 3:2:1 ratio and hope for the best, or just don't fertilize at all. About the only fertilizer I ever use in my gardens/beds is a little Milorganite around the elephant ears. ;o)

Plants send chemical messengers to their organs which stimulate growth activity in different areas. It's not particularly important in plants that are being transplanted with the root mass intact, but for plants that are being repotted (repotting includes root work, potting-up usually doesn't) or that have had their roots mauled, fertilizing inhibits the messengers that stimulate new root growth. I use Superthrive on my woody plant repots & don't fertilize for the first month - I don't give any extra consideration in this regard to the herbaceous transplants/repots, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be helpful to follow the same guidelines as I do with the woody stuff.

Al



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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

THANKS AL!!!!!

I've always felt I was shooting in the dark, trying to get fertilization somewhat right. If only I could extract the CRF tablets I put in the container soil.

Next year, I'll go with FP.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I live in Pleasant Prairie WI and I have been having trouble finding high quality pine bark this year. I bought 3 different brands and all were duds. The Golden Trophy "Premium Landscape Pine Bark Mulch", looked the worst. Even though they claim on their label that the "American Mulch Council" certifies it, whoever they are, it looked like it was about 5-10% recognizable pine bark and the other 90-95% of it looked exactly like shredded, dyed, wood. It was so stringy that I couldn't even sift it through a 1/2" screen it to do an analysis of its particle size distribution. I looked closely at 2 other brands that looked like a lot of dirt and pine needles were mixed in with the pine bark. So now I'm looking for the Farfards brand pine bark that Al has used.
Finally, after 2 years, I found and bought Scotts Micromax on-line in 1/2 lb jars for $6.00 each from a bonsai supplier. I also found Scotts S.T.E.M repackaged and sold on-line @ $7/lb from an orchid supplier. I'm not sure how to transmit these vendors' info to all of you since Gardenweb gets upset if it looks like someone is getting free advertising here. I have no connection with the sellers by the way.
If anyone knows how I can send the word out on these vendors'items, please let me know.
Nathan


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

So now I'm looking for the Farfards brand pine bark that Al has used.

It's quite pricey from this source (around $12/2.8 cu ft), but BFG Supply carries it. Nearest one to you is 19775 Sommers Dr, Brookfield, WI - (262) 797-6482

BTW, I used to live in Pleasant Prairie, it's where I grew up.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I bought mini bark nuggets from Menards and ran it through the lawn mower. Seems good to me :)

What do you guys recommend for fertilizer for an apricot tree in roughly a 50 gallon wood pot with a hybrid grit mix. Should i hit it with some MG and some N?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 11, 09 at 9:10

"Some MG" covers lots of territory. and I believe all the MG fertilizers contain N (IOW, I don't think they market something like 0-10-10 or any other product with '0' as the first number).

I would use a 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer until it starts producing and then switch to a 2:1:2 ratio. Alternately, I would use a 3:1:2 as above until the plant started producing, then reduce the dosages of 3:1:2 and add Pro-TeKt 0-0-3 to your fertilizer program. This 'sort' of changes your 3:1:2 fertilizer application into something with less N but still with adequate amounts of P and K in a favorable ratio to each other.

If you don't understand 'ratios' vs the % numbers on the containers, you can read about it in the thread above - it's there. If you don't care about delving into the science, you can use Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 (recommended) MG 24-8-16 or 12-4-8, or Peter's Professional 24-8-16 (3:1:2 RATIO fertilizers all) and be in good shape.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks for the Bark info Justaguy2. It's nice to hear from someone from the neighborhood.

Nathan


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

just read though this thread. great info!
some of the technical stuff went over my head though.
the take home point i got out of this is it is best to use a diluted 3-1-2 fert at every watering.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 2, 09 at 16:06

Let me rephrase that for you, please. It's generally a very good choice to select a 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer as your all purpose fertilizer and to apply it at lower doses and shorter intervals than what is suggested on the mfg's label.

If you cut the dose in half, cut the interval in half. If it's above 80 or below 55*, withhold urea-based fertilizers like MG, but (primarily) nitrate fertilizers like Foliage-Pro are ok at reduced rates and INCREASED intervals.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

question for al.

I've read all the posts for this topic as well as about half for the Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention 1-9 topic. The following is all the info i think you need to answer my question:

the soil is al's 5:1:1 mix large batch w/ (what i believe is appropriately sized) fir bark, perilite, peat moss, & garden lime. I have Peter's Professional all purpose water soluble fertilizer w/ micros 24-8-16 which does not contain Mg, Ca, or S. The fertilizer does list as part of the ingredients: ammonium sulfate, copper sulfate, and zinc sulfate. Water pH is average 7.3 with average alkalinity at 23.7 mg/L CaCO3. Chloride & Magnesium are 1.6 ppm on average, sodium 2.2 ppm on average, calcium is 6.8 ppm on average in my local water source. Going to be using the soil for veggies and herbs. I have E.B. Stone - Naturals - Soil Sulfer. Guaranteed Analysis is 90% sulfur derived from elemental sulfur.

Question:
Do i need, or should i add the extra S? if so how much S do i add to the big batch of al's 5:1:1 mix, and how did you figure that out? If there's any other info you think i might need to know or if i'm not on the right track please let me know. I've learned so much about water, soil, and fertilizer from reading these forums and your posts i just keep wanting to learn more. Thank you for all of you knowledgable advice put in straight forward ways to us whom are just learning.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 3, 09 at 10:32

Even though both conifer bark and peat are very low in S, deficiencies rarely occur. Sulfur in sulfate form is subject to leaching, but if you are using a fertilizer regularly with sulfates, you will not have a S deficiency. There will also USUALLY be enough S in the irrigation water and in the air (plants are good at getting S from the air surrounding foliage) to supply needs in most US locations. Incidentally, sulfates don't have the same pH lowering characteristics as elemental S, which DOES lower media pH as micro-organisms oxidize the S and it turns to H2SO4 (sulfuric acid).

It wouldn't hurt anything if you add a small amount of elemental S to the soil as insurance (almost certainly unnecessary though), but how much to add depends on how fine it is. If it's in prill form (pellets) you could add a teaspoon per gallon with no problem. If it's powdered, then maybe 1/8-1/4 tsp per gallon would be more appropriate.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi all.

I've gotten so much from reading the posts in this thread (especially Al's), that when I found the following link, I thought that I'd share it. It's always good to find another primary source.

See the link below. It's a research report from Central Florida Research and Education Center - Apopka at U of FL. Published in '91, so a bit old...

Here is a link that might be useful: Light and Fertilizer Recommendations for the Interior Maintenance of Acclimatized Foliage Plants


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, May 4, 10 at 9:39

I'm glad you posted it. I don't know how to say it w/o some thinking I'm trying to make myself look good, but that's not the case ..... I read the entire article and I didn't find anything inconsistent with what I've been sharing all along - which sort of returns full circle to why I'm glad you posted it. ;o)

I did take 3 notes to follow up on though. 1 was in regard to low pH's affect on ammonification, 1 on a source for a micronutrient supplement I wasn't aware of, and the last was to clarify why the difference between recommended N sources between flowering and foliage crops. The last will be the hardest to chase down, I'm sure, but maybe I'll find it in one of my physiology texts. ...... something to keep me off the streets. ;o)

Thanks again .... for posting and for the kind words.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi Al, Hi Everyone,

All of my questions are based on the following:
[a] Gardening in containers
[b] Growing only vegetables
[c] Media is Taplas 5-1-1 mix
[d] Miracle-Gro water soluble All purpose plant food 24-8-16 &&
Scotts All Purpose Flower & Vegetable Food Slow release 10-10-10

CAUTION: Absolute beginner questions ;-)

[1] Do we need to feed the 4 month old plant with the same amount (in weight) of fertilizer fed when it was 2 months old? [Keeping rest/most of the variables same]
In general I am trying to understand the relationship between fertilizer consumption and plant age.

[2] First pot has ONE plant, Second pot of same size has TWO plants of same species & same age; does the second pot receives twice the amount (in weight) of fertilizer compared to the first pot? [Keeping rest/most of the variables same]
In general I am trying to understand the relationship between fertilizer consumption and density of plants per square foot.

[3] Two different species First one is small in size and second one is huge in size; does the big boy receives the amount (in weight) of fertilizer in proportion to its size? [Keeping rest/most of the variables same]

[4] Is there a chart / table lists the heavy feeders or less greedy plants in relationship with fertilizer amount (in weight) need? [Keeping rest/most of the variables same]
I am looking for details like plant-x needs twice amount (in weight) of fertilizer than a plant-y.

[5] Does a pot having 6 gallon media receives the twice amount (in weight) of fertilizer of a pot having 3 gallon media? Assuming same number/age/size of plants in both the pots. [Keeping rest/most of the variables same]

Thanks
SMG


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 7, 10 at 16:02

1) There is a relationship between where the plant is in it's growth cycle and the amount of nutrients used relative to existing mass. There IS a factor re age that enters the equation, but that is not much of a consideration for the plants you are talking about, which are essentially entirely dynamic mass. OLD plants, like perennials in the second half of their expected life span do tend to slow in growth as they age, but you prolly shouldn't be concerned about that.

Larger plants require more nutrients because they have more (meristematic) growing points and increase more rapidly in weight of biomass than young plants. This is generally taken care of naturally because we grow them in larger volumes of soil, so the soil will hold more water/nutrient solution than smaller volumes of soil. Also, if you are fertigating every time you water, or every 2nd, 3rd, 4th ..... time, larger plants will require more frequent watering and so will get more nutrients.

2&3) See "1". Extrapolate your answer from that reply. If you still have questions, please ask.

4) .... probably no chart that would be easy to find. As a matter of course, professional growers provide nutrients at their preferred ratio (usually somewhere between 2:1:2 - 3:1:2, depending on whether they're trying to maximize growth or produce short, compact, sexually mature bedding plants) and at a concentration (measured by TDS/EC of the soil solution) the plant prefers. Some plants require low fertility levels (TDS/EC) of <700 ppm to grow welol, while others, like tomatoes can do well @ TDS concentrations as high as 3,500 PPM. You can usually use how rapidly the plant increases in mass as a guide to where it falls insofar as how much fertilizer it needs and what concentrastions it will respond best to.

5) Sort of. For a plant in a soil that doesn't support a PWT, the answer is very close to an unequivocal yes. If it DOES support perched water, the plant will get considerably more fertilizer because there is a 'reservoir' of fertilizer solution trapped in the PWT. This doesn't mean the plant will grow more, only that it will have more fertilizer available to it. Because root function/metabolism lags in poorly aerated soils, the plant is probably not going to grow as well and will therefore not be able to use the fertilizer. Soils like this are prone to both fertilizer carry-over AND increased levels of TDS/EC from tapwater because we tend to water in small amounts, trying to minimize the negative effects of saturated soils.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thank you for sharing all this information! The answers to my questions are here I'm sure, but I'm having a hard time understanding alot of it!

This spring I purchased 3 'Chocolate Cordylines' They have (had) beautiful striations of different shades of green, white, & very deep red-brown.

After trying several things to keep them alive, I finally found all the ingredients for the gritty mix & about 1 month ago potted the then 2.5 plants in it. I also found Foliage Pro & thought I was set to sit back & watch their revival!

For the 1st 7-10 days I didn't water enough because I put a wick in the bottom & it never dried out. I felt like a dum dum when I realized that the soil drains sooo well the wick (which went up, over, then down the attached drip pan)would take weeks to dry out!!

After that, until a few days ago, I've been watering almost every day with either rain water or MOSTLY with FULL strength Foliage Pro: 1/4 tsp/gallon. Can we say... beginner?!?!

The good news is there has been alot of new growth on the tops of 1 plant that has 3 stems, but the beautiful striations of color are now only light greens & white. Still pretty, but not WOW like it once was.

Also, the 2nd plant that has dead leaves on the top has sprouted a dozen or so buds on the stem.

The 1/2 plant died.

The only thing I think I did consistently right was to keep the pot in shade.

Is there any hope to bring the color back?

And also, should I cut off the dead top & if so, to where?

If interested, since I can't post a pic, there is a great picture of what this plant looked like at www.hortcoutureplants.com Click on 'centerpiece' on the left & it's called 'Mocha Latte' c. terminalis 'chocolate Queen'


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 1, 10 at 17:15

I don't quite get how you had your wick arranged, but often you need to water more frequently than you might expect until the roots have colonized the container. Think (wet where the roots are).

I think you're probably OK with the 14 tsp/gallon each time you water, as long as you're flushing the soil and the plant is growing well, but it probably would be better if you lightened up on the FP a little. ;o)

As far as the color goes, it depends on what happened. If the tissue where the color changed is still viable, there is the potential for the 'wow' color to return, but if it's dead, there's only one degree of dead and dead brown is what you get. Light levels, as well as pH and nutrient availability - which affect cellular pH, can each/all have a considerable impact on foliage and bloom color.

I have a very lovely Echeveria that stays a lovely shade of pink, until I add vinegar to my irrigation water, or include an Fe chelate in my fertilizer solution, which turns it a sickly looking pinkish green. ;o) Obviously, Fe is the pivot point and I can increase the Fe supply by lowering pH OR using the chelate formulated for high pH applications. Just an illustration of how culture affects plant color.

If you're sure the top is dead, you can cut it back to viable tissue, or even beyond. Most often, I would cut it back to a little above a vigorous shoot & let the top dry/die back to the shoot before I remove the short (dead) stub in a month or two. This ensures you're not cutting into any important tissues near the stub.

I looked at the picture - pretty plant. I can see why you're concerned about the color returning.

Good luck, SA. I wish I could have offered something more concrete.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thank you Al for your quick reply!

About the wick... I put it up through the bottom into 2"-3" of mix. You know those plastic pots that have 3 pegs in a drain pan to align with 3 holes in the pot? The wick came out through the bottom of the pot... up & over the drain pan to the floor (of my lanai). The wick wasn't even up close to the roots! Anyhow, it wasn't too smart! LOL

I cut the top of ol dead head off down to about 3/4" of a bud & will wait for that part to die. I was so excited to see all the buds forming & was afraid of where to cut it!

I'm not understanding if your Echevaria had such a pretty color, why DID you add vinegar or FE Chelate (I don't know what that is)???

Could I try adding vinegar to my solution then? If so, & I promise I won't hold you responsible LOL, how much & how often until I can expect results?

The plant that is doing the best has 3 stems & hasn't died at all except for losing most of the bottom leaves. So you've given me hope!

Thanks again for your kindness!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I looked up FE & noticed Foliage Pro provides .1%.

I also learned, through reading up on Cordylines, that they like a PH of around 6.5 & I know I read on one of your post what the PH of the gritty mix is, but I don't remember.

I have another question... If I were able to change the color, would it change existing leaves or just new growth?

I'm really wanting to experiment! Although I'm excited that at least the plants are headed in the right direction (Thanks to you & others on this forum!) I'm not thrilled enough with these plants to keep them where they are.

Blessings!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 2, 10 at 16:55

I would suggest that you remove the main pot from the 'catch tray' when you water. Try to make sure the effluent never contacts your soil or the wick. After the pot has finished draining, reassemble it if you wish.

"I'm not understanding if your Echevaria had such a pretty color, why DID you add vinegar or FE Chelate (I don't know what that is)???"

Sometimes elemental Fe (iron) becomes unavailable as pH rises because it becomes insoluble. Lowering the pH with vinegar usually makes Fe and other micro-nutrients more readily available. Fe chelate is iron bonded to organic molecules so pH has less affect on solubility. The only time I would use the chelate is when I noticed indicators of a deficiency in some of my plants. I added it to my fertilizer solution & they all got a dose. The same happens when I use vinegar - I see symptoms in as few plants, so I fertigate everything. Anyway - I didn't do it intentionally. ;o)

If you want to add vinegar, the best way is to get some pH paper, then add enough white vinegar to a volume of water to lower the pH of your irrigation water to 5.8-6.0. Note how much it took, then add that amount each time you water.

If the existing leaves are viable, they CAN change color if you change pH, but only if pH (and not light or deficiency/toxicity of a nutrient) was the pivotal issue that caused the change in the first place.

Blessings back - + good luck. Hmmmm - do you need a good luck wish if you have His blessings? Oh well - best to cover all the bases, but I think probably not. ;o)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks for your time Al! As soon as I can locate PH paper I'll give that a try, & also remove the drip pan.

Blessings! ...no luck needed :)


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al,
"If the P looks a little high at 4, consider that in container soils, P begins to be more tightly held as pH goes from 6.5 to below 6.0, which is on the high side of most container soil�s pH, so the manufacturer probably gave this some careful consideration"

What should I expect the pH of the potting mix to be for the best performance? for Mangoes?, citrus? and figs?

And are the pH/moisture meters that you stick into the potting mix reliable? ( bought one at Lowe's )

Thanks
Marin


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 2, 10 at 13:31

Container media pH in the 5.8-6.0 range is good for most plants. Keep in mind that the pH of the soil solution is more important than media pH for container culture.

HOW you test pH significantly affects readings. Inexpensive pH and moisture meters are usually very unreliable. Top end pH meters are usually calibrated against solutions of known pH, and moisture meters actually measure EC (electrical conductivity), rather than moisture levels.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 3, 10 at 7:11

A few years ago, I purchased an average priced moisture meter that also claimed to test ph, light, and other levels. I found it to be very lacking in accuracy... especially where moisture is concerned. This made me question the accuracy of the meter in other areas. For myself, the meters are worthless. I'd go with another method of testing.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks Al,

I have access to endless rolls of pH test paper at work. Do you have any recommendation about how to use it for this soil/media testing application? My trees are all looking pretty nice now and now that I have things fairly under control I want to to fine tune the little details. Thanks for your input
Marin


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks Al,

I have access to endless rolls of pH test paper at work. Do you have any recommendation about how to use it for this soil/media testing application? My trees are all looking pretty nice now and now that I have things fairly under control I want to to fine tune the little details. Thanks for your input
Marin


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Fertilizing and Rain

Hi Al,

Many thanks to all of the knowledge you have contributed. I had a question about fertilizing during rainy seasons with respect to the gritty mix. I live in the bay area and we are currently in our 3 month rainy period (our winter).

I have several containers utilizing the gritty mix. I'm trying to do the "weak" foilage pro watering every week. However, I'm unsure the effects that the ongoing rain is having on fertilizing. In other words if it rains for seven straight days, will gritty mix still hold the liquid fertilizer I am applying? Will the roots still absorb it? Or do I need to wait until a dry period to water/fertilizer?

Thanks in advance!

Kernul1 (Bill)


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 4, 10 at 14:38

If the mean temperature is below 55*, they won't be doing much growing anyway. I suppose the best advice is, after periods of extended rain, fertilize at the earliest opportunity, which would be the first time they need watering. You can always water immediately after a rain, too.

BTW - if you're worried about too much water in the soil, tilt your containers at a 45* angle. This will reduce the volume of soil occupied by any perched water, thus reducing the o/a water retention. A wick pushed into the drain hole would also be very effective at removing any excess water.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi Al,

One question, while I know that FP has all the nutrients needed for plants (along with Ca and Mg) from the Lime in your soil, Would I be able to use Miracid for my gardenia and Jasmine plants in the meantime?

I am waiting for my FP to arrive, I've already limed my 511 mix and noticed that the Miracid lacks Cl, S, and and Ca. Since the lime will provide the Calcium, how would I substitute S and Cl?

Thanks

Sam


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 5, 11 at 13:37

Hi, Sam. Sure you can, they will really like it. There is something called urease in the soil, a naturally occurring enzyme catalyzes the urea in the fertilizer + water, forming an acid (carbamic acid), which is where the descriptive term 'Miracid' comes from. Then, decomposition of the carbamic acid occurs and forms to form ammonia and carbon dioxide. The ammonia will likely escape to the atmosphere unless it reacts with water to form ammonium (NH4+), which is where the N comes.

Here's the scoop though, for the long term, the 30-10-10 will be pretty high in N relative to the other macros, so if you fertilize to supply only the right amount of N, it's possible your plants might not get enough K (potassium). The P(hosphorous) content should be ok. Did you order any Pro-TeKt 0-0-3 when you ordered the FP fertilizer? If so, a few drops of that added to the solution every time you fertilize will supply extra K. Essentially, you'd be turning your 3:1:1 ratio fertilizer into a 3:1:2 ratio by upping the K content. Slick, huh? ;o) You could also add a tiny sprinkle of potash on top of or mixed into the soil when you make it if you have it on hand. I bought 5 lbs 100 years ago & still have 4-1/2 lbs left if you want a little. I'd be glad to send you some - or even a little Pro-TeKt if you want that - I buy it by the gallon and it goes a LONG way.

Don't worry about S and Cl. S is almost never deficient in container media, and Cl is needed in such minute amounts that any stray chloride sources (in both fertilizer and soil particles) will surely supply enough.

Best luck! Hey! I'm glad you bumped the thread. I hope it gets some activity.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I'll give it a little activity, Al! ;-)

I think fertilizing is one of the most misunderstood aspects of container growing. I think a lot of folks are confused or intimidated by all the chemicals represented by letters and numbers and amounts... and I think this is why some folks find it easier to use a time release plant food, which can't really be controlled... or want to go the organic route, which can't be controlled, is even more unreliable, and can even be detrimental.

And then we look at all the choices available at our local garden centers, and we wonder which one to choose. What do all the numbers mean? Do we really need different formulations for blooming? For certain plant types? And what about all the fancy products claiming to boost production and plant health? Do they really work? What DO plants require, and can I get it all in one fertilizer?

I think if growing in a garden and growing in a pot were separated in some kind of parable or saying or short story we all learned as kids, we'd all be a lot further along in our growing successes as adults! But this isn't the case... so the first myth to dispel is that all growing is the same. It's not. Organic methods of growing and fertilizing should be saved for the garden beds.

Then we get to the time release plant foods, like Osmocote... I often wonder how I can be sure it's really releasing what my plants need as it should? Wouldn't it dissolve fairly quickly and need to be reapplied on a more regular basis than we think?

I haven't had my morning allotment of coffee yet, but these are just a few of the questions and thoughts I have/had about fertilizers... I'm sure you've answered most of them in the article above, which I did read a while ago, and will need to read again to refresh my memory.

My point is... I think this is the probably the most intimidating and confusing aspect of growing... plant nutrition.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 6, 11 at 12:16

I think a worthy goal for container gardeners who are not trying to manipulate particular growth patterns, who only want to maximize healthy growth, is to attempt to at all times keep o/a fertility in a range low enough to facilitate the uptake of water and the nutrients dissolved in water, yet high enough to prevent ANY nutritional deficiencies.

It's clear that the easiest and most efficient way to achieve that goal is to work toward supplying nutrients in as close to the same ratio as that used by plants. Since the 3:1:2 RATIO fertilizers like 24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6 and a few others hit that target dead on, it makes the most sense to me to use these fertilizers.

What I wrote at the top of this thread and my running commentary centers around this philosophy. While it's true that plants tend to take what they need and leave the rest (words to a beautiful old ballad from the 60s or 70s), 'the rest' is an excess, and an excess has the potential to be as limiting as a deficiency. Certain fertilizers just make it easier for us, and are more efficient at what they are designed to do than others. The reason there are so many 'others' is because we're so easily duped into buying them; that, because most of us don't fully understand that as a group, plants essentially ALL use approximately the same ratio of nutrients (within a very narrow range); some just use MORE nutrients than others, but always in nearly the same ratio.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Shouldn't the title of this thread be Foliage Pro advertisement? I see the Foliage Pro team is hitting the other forums now too.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

"Shouldn't the title of this thread be Foliage Pro advertisement?" Not if you're actually reading what's been written, no. Other fertilizers are listed by brand name, too, and not only in this thread.

If Foliage Pro didn't deliver, no one would use it. And if no one used it, no one would ever mention it... certainly not in a positive light. But that doesn't happen to be the case, so you will see the names of good items mentioned when recommending.

I don't understand the negative intonation... do you work for a different fertilizer corporation? Have you ever used Foliage Pro?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I don't understand the negative intonation either.

Foliage Pro Team? Finding a product that delivers what it should, and sharing that with fellow gardeners makes us a team? Since when?

"hitting the other forums now too" Gosh, maybe there's plants there! Where there's plants, there's going to be talk about Fertilizers! It's a great one, so people share!

And as Jodi mentioned, others are talked about here too! MG for example is all over GW. I haven't seen anyone show up and complain about that. Or is that your next gripe?

JoJo


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I forgot to ask... if you're not a fan of Foliage Pro, what DO you recommend using, and why?

It doesn't look good to slam a recommended product, and the people who use it, without at least being able to offer another in its place, and to offer corresponding validation for that product.

We'll wait...


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I have not tried Foliage Pro yet but do have the liquid MG 12-4-8 (yellow bottle) and the all purpose MG 24-8-16 blue granular. They seem to work well for me, although from what I've read here they're missing a few nutrients, so the need for gypsum and epsom salt in the grit mix.

With the success of FP, I wonder why companies like MG and Peters have not adjusted their fertilizers to include ALL nutrients, including the missing ones, like FP has done?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 8, 11 at 22:41

Hey! You've been paying attention! ☺

In order to be competitive, most soluble fertilizers utilize urea as the N source. In order to include soluble Ca, they would have to use CaNO3 (calcium nitrate) the only soluble form of Ca suitable for fertilizers. It's much more expensive than urea, so they leave it out. Additionally, the largest % of (garden) soils usually have plenty of Ca (it's used on gardens & beds, too). I'm sure they leave the Mg out because of it's relationship with Ca. If the fertilizer (Miracle-Gro et al) had Ca but no Mg, an antagonistic deficiency of Mg could develop, even if there was already ample Mg in the soil. Finally, most commercially prepared container media are treated with dolomitic lime to adjust pH. As you know, the lime does dual duty, serving also as the Ca/Mg source for whatever is planted in the soil.

Since the gritty mix has a little higher pH than the 5:1:1 mix, we tend to want to use gypsum (CaSO4) and Epsom salts (MgSO4) as a source for Ca and Mg because neither have any appreciable influence on pH.

Got all that? ☺

Al


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Oops!

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 8, 11 at 22:53

Sorry - that weird combination of symbols (☺) is supposed to be a smilie face. ;-)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I might have missed this somewhere, so I'm just going to ask and see what I get. I'm going to start planting tomorrow my plants into the Gritty Mix, I'm going to start switching out all my indoor plants as well as all my outdoor tree's (in containers). How does everyone water? Would it be best to run the hose over all the pots a little, then come back with the mixed fertilizer and pour some into all the containers? Or would I mix up a full water can of fertilizer for each plant? This last method seems like it might be a little wastefull.

I also would like to know where everyone bought there Foliage Pro? I buy a lot online, so I'd like to know some reliable online dealers. I decided to go with the Foliage Pro because of all the reading on here that I've done. Thats the one thing nice about converting small patches at a time of my property to native plants is there is no fertilizing to be done, ever. At least here in California Coastal Sage Scrub. In fact I killed some with kindness when I first started.

Thanks for the help.

Jerry


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hey, Jerry!

I usually pre-wet the container mix, then fertilize until a bit runs out the drainage holes.
Because I use a mild dose of the fertilizer, there isn't too much waste.

Last weekend, I stopped in at a local indoor growing/hydroponics store that opened
a few months ago - it's less than five minutes from my house. Anyhow, they stocked quite a few
other Dyna Grow products, so I asked if they'd order some Foliage Pro for. I told them that I'd been
paying about $20 for 32 ounces. On Friday I picked up the bottle, and I saw that they'd stocked their
shelves as well....which is awesome.

Any indoor grow shop ought to be able to order for you, if they don't have it on hand.

Good luck!


Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I do the same, Jerry... pre-moisten the mix, then water with a weak solution of fertilizer until a little bit runs out the drainage holes. Since I'm mixing the fertilizer at such a weak strength, there's barely any waste.

I haven't been able to locate Foliage Pro locally, so when I'm ready to get some, I'll probably end up ordering online. In the meantime, I'm using up the bottle of Miracle Gro all purpose liquid I have.

When I say I use a weak solution of fertilizer, I mean I mix it at about 1/4 to 1/8 of the recommended strength, and I use it about 3 out of 4 times watering... on the 4th watering, I flush with clear water. This helps keep any salts from accumulating within the pot.

I'm not sure where I'll order Foliage Pro from... I'll do the research for pricing and whatnot as the time nears. We do a lot of shopping online, so I have no issues obtaining what I need from an online source. A lot of places offer free shipping with a certain purchase amount, or other incentives... or I could check out Ebay... I still have time.

When it comes to fertilizer in the gardens, I'm all about using Mother Nature to her best advantage! We compost everything, and are lucky to have our choice of manures to add to the compost piles... horse, goat, fowl. Some of the best natural fertilizer I use comes in the form of used pool water from our flock of Muscovy ducks! I save it when I clean out their kiddie pool, and I pour it on the garden beds. You should see the growth! Incredible!

Of course, I'd never use any of that in my container growing. Organic methods are best left for the gardens.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Pay no mind to that negative talk about Foliage Pro.

It was just stink bomb released on this thread, and all the positive talk about it will blow it away.

Foliage Pro, Foliage Pro all the way.:-)

By the way, thanks so much for such an informative thread Al! The explanation about why certain minors are missing and how to make up that deficit is just what many needed to hear:-)

Mike


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al writes:
In order to be competitive, most soluble fertilizers utilize urea as the N source. In order to include soluble Ca, they would have to use CaNO3 (calcium nitrate) the only soluble form of Ca suitable for fertilizers. It's much more expensive than urea, so they leave it out.

Al, I just bought a 50 pound bag of Calcium Nitrate last week for $14.13, so the cost of what they put in a gallon of Foliage Pro would be minuscule. What is your connection with the company that manufactures Foliage Pro and all their other products being touted on this forum and now others?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

"Connection" ?

Here we go again!

Grow up!!!!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 9, 11 at 13:55

This is a repeat performance of the disruption of someone else's thread with the same accusations and other unfounded remarks last summer, prompting those involved to TELL Californian none of us have ANY connection to any fertilizer producer. FP 9-3-6 fertilizer is simply the best way I've found to date to deliver all 12 essential nutrients in a favorable ratio. Until I find something better, I'll recommend it wholeheartedly, no matter his/her chagrin or disagreement with my and other's choices.

I invited him/her to share the secret 'recipe' for making his/her version of FP last summer, but all I got was vagaries and a link to FP's MSDS sheet, which wasn't at all helpful. I don't know what the real underlying beef is, but it would be best if her/she started his/her own fertilizer thread where he/she could feel free to decry my foolishness, instead of making unfounded accusations based on conjecture that cannot be supported and wrecking the harmony of this one.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Or even just point us to another liquid fertilizer product with 3-1-2 and all minor nutrients that is readily available and easy to use.

I use FP because it is the closest thing to 5-1-3 that I can find that is soluable and has all the micro nutrients.

5-1-3 is supposedly the ratio of nutrients that citrus actually use and the fact that it is soluable and contains all the micro nutrients make it easy for me to use in my soilless mix containers.

Californian you were asked to offer an alternative and you haven't - maybe if you did then people would use it and stop talking about FP (and stop thinking that you're a forum troll with nothing to do except harass people without cause).

Until you offer a readily available alternative that meets my needs I will stick with FP and also consider you to be an a**.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

And you know what? While I'm pretty sure this is not the case - if Al *is* working for DynaGrow and is somehow associated with Foliage Pro then they are running an incredibly expensive and effective ad campaign - the best damned marketing campaign I've ever seen. Why? Because it's actually *helping people*.

Al personally responds to all requests for help that I see in this forum (including mine) and offers detailed, thoughtful answers that are incredibly helpful to me and I assume most others judging by the response he gets.

So while I take him at his word that he has nothing to do with the company - SO WHAT IF HE DOES? If he's a shill for a company (he isn't) then I don't care because I'm results oriented and he gives me results.

I suppose in addition to working for DynaGrow he probably also works for the company that makes Turface, the company that makes Axis, the consortium of companies that sell crushed granite, and Pine Bark suppliers the world over.

They have all come together in the person of Al to poison the minds of gardeners the world over in every possible forum. These companies and Al are also surely involved in a plot to piss you off personally. Looks like it's working!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 10, 11 at 14:03

Yikes! - I really appreciate the support, RSC, but please pull your talons in - it's not worth your getting booted over. If it gets worse it can be reported. Hopefully admin is lately becoming more aware of who's helping, and who's hindering those helping because of a personal conflict.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I've read plenty a thread where Al also suggests we use miracle grow if we don't have or want to get Foliage Pro... so with that being said..
If he was a rep, which we all know he isn't, than he'd be in a world of hurt with Foliage Pro. ;-)

JoJo


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Sorry Al - I didn't mean to go all negative on you. I've noticed most of the people in this forum seem to be very nice, positive, upbeat, and supportive.

I'm less that way - you've been very helpful to me which I appreciate but I do tend to be combative. I especially love making fun of conspiracy theorists because they invariably always then assume that I'm part of the conspiracy which, for inexplicable reasons, brings me great joy. I must be mean spirited at heart. I should feel sorry for them. I don't.

I don't much care if I get banned as I have several other ip addresses but I will try to behave so as not to ruin the positivity you guys have around you :)


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Fertilizing Container Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 10, 11 at 14:38

My only concern was for you. It's always great to have support, but I don't want anyone to get the boot because they had my back - no matter how much I appreciate it.

Take good care. ;-)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I think the simple fact that these negative naysayers never answer questions posed, and never offer alternatives or any valid information to back up their claims speaks for itself. It shows them to be exactly what they are.

Anyone with a true concern would happily and with haste offer up information and corresponding evidence in support.

I, too, operate from a "results oriented" position, and until I find out for myself that a recommended product is not worthy, I'll continue to offer support. Friends don't steer other friends wrong, so if Al and everyone else who sings the praises of Foliage Pro keeps singing, I'll hum a few bars, too.

I find it incredibly annoying that some people can't seem to utilize independent cognitive thought, processing fact and fallacy and weeding out the latter, and reaching a solid conclusion based in logic.

It's not worth getting too steamed over, though... we'll let the facts of the one sided debate speak for themselves, and move forward with the learning...


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Oh Redshirtcat: I think you stole the words right out of our brains and had the courage to speak up. But don't ever let the naysayers get the best of you, since loosing you would be a very sad thing. I love reading your posts lately, and although sick, I had to tell you:-) Never give a troll a reason to smile.
I understand Al's concern and I'll bet GW will understand you too. We do.

Jodi: I am 110% in agreement with you. You certainly have a way with expressing the very things on my mind and I appreciate you doing that for me and probably many others. You are the best:-)

Nite all, and like I said, Foliage Pro all the way!

Mike


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

There always someone negative trying to bring others down, but no problems here. I've only been on here a few weeks and have seen how helpful and informative Al is to everyone. There is nothing more admirable than a person who gives time, energy, and thought to help people they don't even know.
Anyway this is all so fascinating to me. It's basically the perfect plant diet. Amazing how it all works and how well it is explained. I actually had a discussion with a long time worker at the local nursery today(who I haven't seen in 4 months) on what I have learned in the past few weeks on here. Many of the concepts were new to her and I tipped her off about this site and all the wisdom shared here. And we talked about the 9-3-6(not gonna say any names here) which she hadn't heard of and was gonna look into. She did ask if there was talk of bloom food or other specified forms. I knew there was but didn't see any talk and now I see why. I decided to look deeper and find out more about fertilizers and how to use them, because honestly I did commercial landscaping for 4-5 years and all we ever really used was 10-10-10 and other supplements. I found this very informative thread that answered all my questions and more. Thanks Al and others.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 10, 11 at 22:59

What a kind assessment! Thank you! Thanks too, to JJ, Jodi, Mike and Redshirtcat. It's always nice when people offer kind words or their appreciation.

You may find the link below that addresses the myth that high-P fertilizers are a good way to increase bloom production.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: More on high-P fertilizers specifically


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thank you so much for this post. I now feel confident about the manner in which I fertilize. I needed a post like this to satisfy my curiosity about fertilizer in container gardens. You did more than just that with this very informative post. Keep up the good work.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 13, 11 at 13:26

Thank you very much Eetrey. It always means a lot when someone takes time from their day to make an effort to express a thank you or well-wishes, or share a success story. It also says something about you as a person, and your kindness is appreciated.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Foliage Pro 9-3-6 is the favorite fertilizer on the African Violet forum. Looks like I am going to have to buy a larger bottle.
Ruth


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 13, 11 at 23:11

Cool - any idea how long it's been a favored product? Anyone?

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I have been on the Violet forum for a year, It has been recommended there for several years from what I saw in the back posts.
Ruth


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Is CRF and Granular fertilizer the same thing? Thanks.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 16, 11 at 22:09

CRF = Controlled Release Fertilizer and it disperses fertilizer primarily based on temperature. The most common name associated with CRF is Osmocote, but there are many other manufacturers of CRFs. Granular fertilizers can be either soluble or insoluble, the soluble granular formulas carry names like Miracle-Gro, Peters, Schultz ...... Fertilizers you commonly buy in large bags for the lawn & garden in granular form are usually a combination of soluble and marginally soluble ingredients. This is so you get that initial shot of nutrients so you can be sure you got what you paid fore. After the soluble fraction of the fertilizer is dissolved an in the soil, the less soluble portion still releases nutrients, primarily based on moisture levels, but to some degree, temperature, too.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

The only problem I have with CRF fertilizers, such as Osmocote, is that I'm never sure how much fertilizer is being released when I water... or how long the little pieces actually remain viable within the medium.

Peters granule/water soluble fertilizer is a product I've used in the past... and it seemed to work fairly well.

Quite honestly, I like a liquid fertilizer over other types. There's no settling when mixing, and I know it's being evenly dispersed every time I water. I control amount/strength through measurement and water volume, and I control how often my plants are getting fed.

I suppose it all depends on how many plants a person has to water and/or other factors, but I pre-mix my fertilizer water, complete with added micro-nutrients, and keep several gallons at the ready. I save the thick plastic milk jugs available at Sam's Club for the purpose. They seem to be molded better than most other gallon milk jugs I've come across, and they last a very long time for my purpose.

The way I look at it... if no one liked Foliage Pro, no one would even mention it. The simple fact that people talk about it in a positive fashion, and that so many people talk about it, tells me there's definitely something there! The best recommendations come from people like Al, who have been studying the issues and comparing products for a long time... and the best point to consider is, he has nothing to gain by recommending it, other than the notion that another grower will find satisfaction.

Well... I move ever closer to looking for a Foliage Pro source! I'm amazed at how long one bottle of Miracle Gro can last when feeding on a continual low dose plan! :-)


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi Al,

I had a question related to prolong periods of rain and liquid fertilizer that I was hoping you could help me out with.

I'm using the gritty mix and the weak Foilage pro that I apply at every watering. It is the rainy season though in california's bay area and it seems like it has been raining every day for the last two weeks.

Questions:
1) How long can most plants go in the gritty mix without getting any foilage pro before damage to the plant?

2) Let's say it rains for 7 days, 1 day of no rain and then another 7 days. If I apply foilage pro during the 1 day of no rain will it be absorbed by the plants? Or does it just get flushed out when the rain comes the next day?

I'm assuming the answer is when all the rain stops you just give a larger dosage of the foilage pro but I wanted to be on the safe side and ask.

Thanks in advance!

Best,

Bill


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 20, 11 at 13:53

Everyone assumes that a heavy rain washes out all the fertilizer, but fertilizer ions attach themselves to available attachment sites on colloidal surfaces and hang around during rains. One of the nice things about soils that drain so freely is you CAN fertilize in the rain with little worry about over-watering. I'd just take into consideration that you WILL need to fertilize a little more frequently during periods of heavy rain, but I wouldn't worry about it. If your plants start getting light in color, you're prolly losing some potential growth, but if they're not - no reason to be too concerned.

We don't get monsoons here, but I've gone more than two weeks w/o fertilizing during periods of frequent rains and not run into problems.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Great. Thanks Al!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 20, 11 at 21:28

Photobucket

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi Everyone,

I apologize in advance if this is a stupid question. Some things take me a while to understand.

When adding the lime, and CRF (if preferred) to the 5:1:1 mix, is it added to the whole mix, or top dressed into the containers? I assume it's blended into the whole mix, but I felt I just had to ask. Thanks. Ed


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 21, 11 at 22:21

Fully incorporate it, Ed.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Al, thanks. I'm extremely excited about growing my tomatoes in containers this year for the first time. I'm also very grateful for the generous, knowledgable people of this forum who are willing to give of their time to answer questions. Thanks again. Ed


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Morning Everyone,

I know, here we go again, but I really want to make sure I'm going at this somewhat correctly.

I'm using Foliage Pro. At this point I'm watering still twice a day because most of the plants are not fully established yet. I've been giving a quick squirt with the hose in the mornings and then a soak with fert in the evenings (FP 1/4 tsp. in 2gal). These are all outside plants, my house plants only get watered once a week, so they're easy.

So are you all fertilizing everytime you water? Even if it's twice a day? And I'm curious if your using FP, how much do you mix everytime you water?

Jerry


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, May 4, 11 at 14:16

If you want to, it's fine to fertilize at the low doses you mentioned every time you water (fertigate). I do this in the winter because I water from a small watering can and just include 15-16 drops of 9-3-6 per gallon of water. In the summer, I have to water with a hose because of the number of plants I tend, so it's just not in the cards that I would fertilize every time I water, so I usually fertilize every weekend. It IS important if you're fertilizing at every watering, that you apply enough water to flush the soil and keep fertilizer salts from accumulating.

Thank you for the kind comments, Ed. You're very welcome. I'm always happy to do whatever I can for pleasant people. ;-)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thank you Al,

I might consider just fertilizing on the weekends, that would be easier on my back. Once most of my container plants get good and established I don't think they will need to be watered here where i live more than twice a week. All my veggies this year I'm trying out in different cloth pots, and they all sit on the dirt, so I'm guessing they will need everyday or everyother.

Jerry


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

I have some things to add. I would like to hear your thoughts on this. To have a full program of fertilizer that would replace the best compost.
Micronutrients
Macronutrients
Vitimins (even C!)
L-Amino D-Amino Acids Folvic Humic ect...
Carbohydrates
I could go on...
Now we all know kelp can have alot of these things. I have all of this from the GH line. I am now looking into some of the other fertilzers aswell because my garden size will be increasing. I grow edibles so I like to use a good line. This line was expensive upfront but it has lasted for quite some time now. I have a tomatoe that I use MG tomato fertilizer and gypsum and nothing else. It produces about the same as the others that have the GH line and the additives!

BTW I am learning alot from this forum. Thanks.


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RE: Fertilizerr Program for Containerized Plants II

I have some things to add. I would like to hear your thoughts on this. To have a full program of fertilizer that would replace the best compost.
Micronutrients
Macronutrients
Vitimins (even C!)
L-Amino D-Amino Acids Folvic Humic ect...
Carbohydrates
I could go on...
Now we all know kelp can have alot of these things. I have all of this from the GH line. I am now looking into some of the other fertilzers aswell because my garden size will be increasing. I grow edibles so I like to use a good line. This line was expensive upfront but it has lasted for quite some time now. I have a tomatoe that I use MG tomato fertilizer and gypsum and nothing else. It produces about the same as the others that have the GH line and the additives!

BTW I am learning alot from this forum. Thanks.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, May 4, 11 at 20:34

Well ...... since you asked - ;-)

Fertilizers like Foliage=Pro contain all 12 essential nutrients plants normally get from the soil in the ratio in which plants use the nutrients, which allows you to supply everything essential at the lowest TDS/EC levels possible w/o deficiencies.

I can't see a need to supplement amino acids or fulvic/humic acid in a soil that is about 90% organic when they're a byproduct of the composting process that takes place in all container media with a notable organic fraction. Those organic acids are more useful applied to sandy soils LACKING in OM. Plants aren't like humans in that they MAKE vitamins, and they have no way to absorb carbohydrates, which are broken down in the soil into C,H, and O, all found in water and CO2.

Applying nutrients in a soluble form ensures they are immediately available for uptake ..... no waiting for soil organisms to cleave hydrocarbon chains, and you have control over what/how much your plants are getting. In the end, the nutrients plants take up to use as building blocks for making their food & to keep their metabolisms running smoothly are EXACTLY the same salts that they take up from hydrocarbon chains. Plants don't care where their nutrients come from, as long as they get them.

I'm all about results, and I've tried fertilizing with fish/seaweed emulsions & fertilizers that derive a significant fraction of their nutrients from organic sources like feather meal, blood meal, hoof/horn meal ...... and I've never been as happy with their efficacy as I've been with plain ol' Miracle-Gro 24-8-16, 12-4-8, or my favorite - Foliage-Pro 9-3-6.

AL


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Thanks for the response. I am going to try Foliage Pro. It has all the essential minerals plants need for vigorous growth right in it!
I also agree about the organic fertilizers that they do take a while to become available to the plant. They are not always stable either. Thanks again.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Hi. This is one of the additives. It is a carbohydrate complex for plants.

"Our scientists have formulated FloraNectar to optimize the greatest transference of sweetness and aroma into your fruits and flowers.

FloraNectar contains all natural raw cane sugar, molasses, malt syrup, select plant based esters, L-amino acids, organic acids, polyflavonoids, vitamins and essential minerals.

This unique blend of ingredients helps your plants regulate enzymes that trigger specific reactions involved in maintaining optimal metabolism. This allows your plants to achieve a balance between respiration and photosynthesis in high intensity growing environments where the rate of respiration can sometimes exceed the rate of photosynthesis.

As a result, FloraNectar ensures optimal metabolic rates during the flowering and fruiting phase when nitrogen levels have been reduced.

FloraNectar also promotes a sturdier plant structure during the vegetative phase when high levels of nitrogen are present.

FloraNectar fulfills the additional energy requirements of your plants throughout all phases of growth and during stressful times of transition."

www.generalhydroponics.com/genhydro.../floranectar.html


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, May 5, 11 at 10:48

I tend to be very sceptical of 'miracle' products like Eleanor's fertilizer and Superthrive that use broad & vague rhetoric to tell you they do everything but cook a perfect 2-minute egg. If it worked like they want to believe it works, they would assuredly lay out the mechanism by which it works to satisfy the sceptics & even the cynics, thereby separating them from the ability to taint the manufacturers sweeping claims. It's sort of like the gritty mix or FP 9-3-6. I can recommend these products for container culture & make help you believe they will work because I can explain why and how they work in a way that leaves you feeling satisfied that your odds of seeing them as beneficial are very good. The many others adding their voices don't hurt, either. OTOH, we can see that it's difficult to sell heavy, peat-based soils when we look critically at them from the plant's perspective - or with the aim of optimizing growth and vitality. There will always be as few people who LOVE these heavy soils for whatever reason, but when it comes to convincing the masses that they truly ARE the best from the plant's perspective, the conversation usually finds them coming up short because of inherent issues that are very difficult to remedy. The same can be said of certain types of fertilizers.

As a result, FloraNectar ensures optimal metabolic rates during the flowering and fruiting phase when nitrogen levels have been reduced. How can they make this claim? How can they 'ensure' anything optimal?

FloraNectar fulfills the additional energy requirements of your plants throughout all phases of growth and during stressful times of transition. How? Plants' only source of energy comes from the sun & is stored in the sugars, starches, oils, and other bio-compounds they manufacture themselves ....

When it comes to horticultural products, if it SEEMS too good to be true, there's a very strong likelihood it isn't. It doesn't bother me that some one else might be convinced of the product's value, but personally, I need a lot more convincing & something with a little more substance to sink my teeth into before I take the hook. ;-)

AL


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Picture a compost pile that orange peels wher put in. Now I know the Sugars in the orange with break down but that what is broken down is SUGAR. It is in good soil in trace amounts. That is why if we use these soiless mixes that have none of this in it we need to replace it for the plant. Fact is GH is nothing new. NASA uses it and it only. Flora Necture is included in their program so there is a need for these sugars and acids that are in this. Sugars help plants uptake nitrogen quiker along with many other factors.

Fact is I have learned alot so I can share some information aswell. Al's 5-1-1 looks to me as the best grow medium in the world!!!
When I use sugar in my program in soiless I see the plants have stronger branching than the ones I only used the base line. Fact is you DONT need to add this because A baseline fertilizer will work. Plants make sugar on their own but To put it in broad terms. This provides a ballance when using fertilizer because the sugar fills in the gaps of any missing things that the plant might want. A little goes a long way so why not try it.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, May 5, 11 at 18:03

Plants couldn't absorb sugar unless it was broken down into elemental form. When sugar IS mineralized, it breaks down into carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen - nothing more. There is never a shortage of these essential elements because carbon and oxygen are abundantly available in the atmosphere and oxygen and hydrogen are abundant in the water plants absorb.

If there WAS an advantage, it would be in that sugars and other carbohydrates are used as food sources for soil micro organisms, which are helpful in improving the health and structure of mineral soils (gardens/beds, ....), but feeding soil organisms that only break down soil particles faster, is in my view counter-productive because of the heavy emphasis I put on the importance of soil structure.

Why go to the effort of creating a well-aerated soil if you intend on using amendments sure to prematurely undo your good intentions?

AL


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

Yes I see what you are saying.
"If there WAS an advantage, it would be in that sugars and other carbohydrates are used as food sources for soil micro organisms, which are helpful in improving the health and structure of mineral soils (gardens/beds, ....), but feeding soil organisms that only break down soil particles faster, is in my view counter-productive because of the heavy emphasis I put on the importance of soil structure"

They use this in hydroponics where microbs dont exist so this product is usfull in soilless grow medium (same thing as hydro). GH is a "rule of thumb" used by NASA and there is no way they would make a usless product. This is only one "brand" there are other carb supplements in other nutrients companies.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

This is why I am learning so much on here. Anyone can say they can grow really well by going out and buying a full line off nutrients with additives. By Having these "debates" I am now learning ways to save money while expanding my garden.
Again growing with just macro and micro nutrients will take plants through their life. However I find with these additives my tomatoes are sweeter and have thicker branches that hold bigger tomatoes.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants II

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 6, 11 at 10:50

This thread is about to top out at 150 posts, so I'll try to use up the last two text boxes to leave a link to the continuation, which has already been posted. If you click on this embedded link, it should take you to the new thread.

AL


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Thread continued - see below

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 6, 11 at 10:53

The continuation can be found by following the link provided. Thanks for making this thread fun and successful!

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: More about fertilizing plants in containers here


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