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Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Posted by clairecathy 10 (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 5, 10 at 12:08

I need to pin down some things about fertilizing with gritty mix.

Here's the info I have so far: "Add 1/4 tsp of Epsom salts per gallon of fertilizer solution every time you fertilize at recommended strength, or 1/8 if you fertilize at 1/2 strength, or a pinch if you fertilize every time you water at 1/8 - 1/4 strength (depending on how robustly the plant(s) is/are growing. You can add white vinegar to acidify, 1-2 T in a gallon of water."

I will be using the Foliage-Pro 9-3-6. Here are my questions:

1) Re: blueberries, because they like a nutrient-poor soil, will it be enough to fertilize only once a year, in the spring? (I've seen that recommendation but am worried it may not be enough.) If only once, then should it be at full strength or would that be too much?

2) Re: my fig, I thought I would follow the "pinch" of fertilizer with each watering during the spring and summer and then nothing in the fall and winter. Is that right, or do I stop when the fruit buds appear?

(For those who remember my mini-balcony aspirations, I don't need to ask about the Carrie mango I had planned on because I think that was taking on too much, too soon, for someone still near the bottom of the learning curve. Maybe next year.)

Claire


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 5, 10 at 13:59

"Add 1/4 tsp of Epsom salts per gallon of fertilizer solution every time you fertilize at recommended strength, or 1/8 if you fertilize at 1/2 strength if you have used gypsum as a Ca source because your fertilizer doesn't contain Ca/Mg or a pinch if you fertilize every time you water at 1/8 - 1/4 strength (depending on how robustly the plant(s) is/are growing. You can add white vinegar to bring irrigation water down to a pH of about 6.0.

You can prolly skip the gypsum and Epsom salts if you're using FP. It contains both Ca and Mg in a favorable ratio.

I fertilize BBs the same way I do my other woody plants - low doses and often.

I forgot what your 'fig' is - is it Ficus carica (hardy/edible fig) or a tropical plant?

Al


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

I belive her fig is a "Negronne fig" :)

I'm glad I opened this thread, I've been forgetting the Epsom salt. :)
Need to get out and feed everyone tomorrow.

Hi Claire! Hope things are going good for you! :)

JJ


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Thanks, Al. I won't bother the gypsum and Epsom salts, and I'll fertilize the blueberries as you suggest.

But I'm still a little confused about fertilizing with regard to seasons. The phrase "is/are growing" could mean that fertilizing is only done during the active growth of leaves or fruit and not during the dormant winter-time. But the whole sentence seems to be talking about how much and how often during growth and doesn't really say to stop fertilizing during the winter. So, do I?

"I forgot what your 'fig' is - is it Ficus carica (hardy/edible fig) or a tropical plant?"

It's a Negronne.

Claire


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

JJ,

Thanks for the good wishes. My new flower pots are on the balcony (awaiting supports to lift them off the saucers) and all the bags for gritty mix are lined up there. There is really no pressure right now as I only have one bilberry that is dormant and ready for me to root-prune and get into the new soil, and I hope to start on that this weekend. But I do feel a bit anxious, looking at those huge 5 cu ft bags and wondering about sifting at my kitchen sink!

Claire


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 5, 10 at 19:22

There is no harm in maintaining a favorable level of fertilizer in the soil/soil solution for the entire growth cycle, but since the plant isn't growing and you are watering so infrequently, it's probably better to withhold fertilizer from temperate plants until they begin to grow in the spring. I fertilize houseplants all winter long, using low doses at every watering. I can do this and still not over-fertilize because of the fast soils I use and my habit of flushing the soil each time I water. The way I water/fertilize ensures there is a low dose of fertilizer in an appropriate ratio to support any growth the plant will make in winter, as well as the plant's ability to keep its systems orderly. If I was using a slow soil that necessitated my watering in small sips so the soil wasn't getting flushed of accumulating salts, this method wouldn't be appropriate. If you don't fertilize in the winter because of slow soils and watering habits though, the ratio of nutrients soon becomes skewed.

I don't BRING the discussion in a circle to soil choice, but there are so many aspects of container culture that relate to growth and vitality involving soil choice, that it is difficult to discuss growth and vitality w/o recognizing that soil choice is the single most important decision in establishing a container planting - even if only because all of the other cultural influences unrelated to soil are easily changed. We know the considerations are much broader than simply our ability to change them, but that in itself is sufficient cause to make our choice of soils our #1 consideration.

Al


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Al,

I appreciate your explaining in depth just why you do what you do (in watering, fertilizing and other aspects of container gardening), esp. as it relates to the gritty mix. Many thanks.

Claire


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 5, 10 at 20:43

I'm very glad you appreciate everyone's efforts to help you, Claire. Many have argued that knowledge (yours or mine) isn't very important when it comes to consistently producing healthy and productive plants. It's usually the same group that claims experience is everything. That's bull. Learn all you can, and let your own growing experiences validate what you already know. Give me a group of individuals intent on learning scientifically sound principles, who have the sense to make sure that what they think they are observing conforms to known science before they validate their own observations, and I'll show you a group poised to leave the rest of the growing crowd in their slipstreams. ;o)

Al



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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Al,

Yes, I do want to follow scientifically sound principles. I don't the money to waste on experiments based on opinions and I don't have the time -- in terms of years left of life. :)

You asked me about my fig. Was that just out of curiosity, or did you mean to comment specifically on that with regard to fertilizing?

Thanks,

Claire


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Hi Claire,
I have bags everywhere too and lots of sifting to do. ;)

My guys will be out of town next week, vacation for me..;) so I will spend it on my plants.

Take care!
JJ


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 7, 10 at 10:14

Claire - I asked about your fig because it might be appropriate to fertilize tropical plants all year long, depending on your soil choice/watering habits, where it probably wouldn't be appropriate to fertilize dormant temperate plants. .... one of those deals where 'more info is required'.

.... hope you enjoy the solitude, JJ. ;o)

Al


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Good morning!
O.K.
Have to ask, what is "temperate plants" ? I feel I should or do know what it is, but at the moment, not ringing any bells. lol!
My son ran off with the dictionary, so i'll ask here. ;)

Claire,
Like you, I don't have the $$ to waste either, so it's great to be able to come here and learn!

Al~
Thanks! I have tons to do with the plants, but plan on setting some time aside for catching up on other things. ;)

JJ


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RE: Temperate

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 7, 10 at 10:49

When I refer to temperate plants, I'm usually referring to plants that employ some sort of mechanism to protect them from cold - most often, dormancy. In Claire's case, the fertilizing instructions for a temperate deciduous fig would vary significantly from tropical Ficus.

Al


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Al,

Sorry to be slow about these things, but I'm having some confusion about "I asked about your fig because it might be appropriate to fertilize tropical plants all year long, depending on your soil choice/watering habits, where it probably wouldn't be appropriate to fertilize dormant temperate plants."

1. I'm thinking my Negronne is a "temperate" plant because you talked (on another thread) about waiting until it lost its leaves before re-potting. So am I right in thinking I should *not* (even with gritty mix and in zone 10) fertilize the fig all year long?

2. If this above is true, then I'm confused because you did suggest I fertilize the blueberries (also in gritty mix) through the winter and since one of them -- a bilberry -- has now lost its leaves, I'm thinking that's a temperate plant also.

I understand you have to be guarded about your language because any advice you give depends on the particulars, (the soil, the zone, etc.). But in this case, I am left uncertain that I've really understood you.

Claire


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 7, 10 at 14:33

1) Technically, there would be no harm in fertilizing regularly with low doses of fertilizer, even if the plant was dormant, IF the soil was fast enough and you were watering so you were flushing the soil of accumulating salts; but, there is no advantage in it either, so it's probably silly to do it. ;o) If the plant has leaves and is growing, it's beneficial to ensure there is a full compliment of nutrients in the soil at all times. While the plant is dormant, or in a post-dormant stage of (soil) temperature induced quiescence (rest period after true dormancy), withhold fertilizer until active growth commences.

2) I wouldn't have knowingly suggested you fertilize dormant plants, so either I worded something poorly, or you misunderstood something I said. Both happen from time to time, so if there is something still unclear, please ask.

Al


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Thanks, Al. It's all clear now. I think your wording is excellent, but it is nuanced, enriched with the background of knowledge you have, so someone like me, lacking any background and floundering around for the simplistic -- "Yes, do this" and "No, don't do that." -- can sometimes miss the message. :)

Claire


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 7, 10 at 18:17

;o) Sometimes I offer specific directions, but it's usually when I've been asked directly for the info. I think I hold out hope that people will want to know the whys and wherefores, rather than follow instructions w/o knowing why, which is the reason most of my posts are offered with the hope there will be something in them someone will find value in. I guess I want to stimulate people to think about their issues.

In most cases, I'm pretty good at determining and getting folks the info they need, but sometimes you need to take the bull by the horns and ask questions, so good for you for doing just that.

Al


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Claire,
I'm learning right along side of you. ;) Have blueberries, and i'd never hear the end of it from hubby if they died. ;) I can't eat the darn things, they are just for him. And fig tree's.

Thanks Al~
I hope you both are having a good evening.

JJ


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 8, 10 at 5:39

It was when I didn't know the "whys and wherefores" that I got into trouble trying to grow various plants. But now that I have the "whys and how it works" pinned down, I find that it's all relatively easy... and as long as I continue to adhere to the effort input, I'm successful.

I think a part of why people don't bother to learn the "whys and wherefores" is because a lot of sources give information that's too technical for those of us without horticulture or botany degrees! Some books describe the fertilization process in terms that practically require a degree in chemistry!

But Al makes all the scientific and technical information so easy to grasp... it makes me eager to learn more!


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

Jodik,

I guess my own wording is a problem here, because you misunderstood me. :)

I agree with everything you said. I am intensely interested in the reasoning behind every choice I make in this new endeavor. I have to understand the principles because the particulars in my case may need to be altered to fit my circumstances (advanced age, tiny balcony of second story apt. and no elevator).

So, it's not that I want bare-boned, simplistic directions. Quite the opposite! It's just that I sometimes need help in extracting my ultimate direction from the context-rich material Al gives.

For instance, in this thread Al really never told me to fertilize my blueberries all winter long. In his Nov 5, 19:22 post, he states that this is unnecessary, but he also uses the word "probably" (which makes me uncertain) and then goes on to describe his own practice with his household plants of fertilizing through all seasons. At that point I missed the significance of "household" plants and simply thought "Oh, this is what Al does and that's good enough for me." This response on my part was cemented in by the final comment (which once again I made general as opposed to specific with regard to household plants) "If you don't fertilize in the winter because of slow soils and watering habits though, the ratio of nutrients soon becomes skewed. " At that point in my reading, I was sure that Al was telling me to fertilize all year long!

So . . . none of Al's post was poorly worded -- but it was very "rich" with the context of his vast understanding and experience, and that made it easy for me -- with my meager understanding and complete lack of experience -- to
misinterpret.

Claire


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RE: Fertilizing with Gritty Mix

  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 8, 10 at 16:48

Oh, no, Claire... I was speaking of myself. I've been gardening for the better part of my life, but I really didn't have an elementary understanding of the science basics. What I meant was, Al has given me a goldmine of simplified information that has helped me become a much more successful container gardener.

For me, at least, I wish Al had been around to teach me the basics from the very beginning. That way, I wouldn't have learned everything helter-skelter, which is how I imagine a lot of people learn. I wouldn't have struggled along, having some success here and limited success there.

There are no hard and fast rules to gardening, and there isn't one single source or school of thought when it comes to learning all that a gardener learns. There are some things I wish I had learned FIRST! Such as... there is a world of difference between container gardening and growing in the ground. And I also wish that I had learned the basics of how plants grow and why they need the things they do... what role each aspect plays, such as soil, watering, fertilizing, etc...

And it wasn't until I read Al's article on Container Soils and Water Retention that I really began to understand the roles each variable played in container growing.

Let's face it... the gardening world is rife with fallacy and old wives tales, many of the books written are rather technical in nature, and it seems that no two people or writers do the same things. It can be confusing.

I can certainly understand where you're coming from... I'm not a spring chicken, either... and I have various health issues to deal with. It's frustrating to realize that some of what you'd like to do can't be done... because your body betrays you. It won't allow you to do what you want. For me, it's Lupus and permanent injuries, on top of age.

Don't mind me, Claire... I'm just lamenting the fact that it's taken me so long to wade through the world of growing and find the truth, the facts, the basic tools that have finally given me success. :-)


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