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Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Roses?

Posted by harmonyp NorCA 9b (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 20, 13 at 11:01

Last year I fertilized with a chemical fertilizer for the first time. I used Vigoro 12-6-10 in March and June, and WOW did it make my roses pop.

I'd love to continue same this year, but I don't want to add anything for short term gain, that will impact the long term health of my roses. I'm pretty sure there is a line somewhere, where use of chemical fertilizers can be bad for roses. Would be interested to know where that line is?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Ultimately, the repeated annual applications of synthetic nutrients has a deleterious effect on soil health by destroying the microbial life. Soils that are constantly bombarded with petrochemical nutrients eventually "die" and become lifeless mineral barrens with depleted soil flora and little organic material remains, making the application of more nutrients essential. This is, of course, a worst case scenario, as none of us actually applies that much petrochemical nutrient to cause that level of damage. The aggressive replenishment of organic matter significantly improves the long term health of a garden soil, making the negative impact of fertilizer (over)use less damaging.

Opinions vary, of course.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Any evidence of this @trospero or just opinion? The science doesn't seem to back you up. "Petrochemical nutrients" is a nonsense phrase, petrol is a hydrocarbon (and in any case the hydrogen comes from natural gas), split the two, as in the haber process you have carbon and hydrogen. Not really petrol is it. Half of the human muscle mass on the planet comes from nitrogen fixed in the haber process. The daft scare stories from some come with no scientific evidence and not something you should take much notice of. Chemical sprays, insecticides, weedkillers, fungicides etc are of much more concern but NOT 'chemical' fertilisers.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

There are environmental concerns regarding leaching in to waterways etc but throwing a bit at your roses to make them grow will have no deleterious effect on your soil.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

See the full PDF of the first paper in the Google Scholar search given below.

"The disadvantages of using chemical fertilizers
1. Overapplication can result in negative effects such as leaching, pollution of water resources, destruction
of micro-organisms and friendly insects, crop susceptibility to disease attack, acidification or
alkalization of the soil or reduction in soil fertility � thus causing irreparable damage to the overall
system.
2. Oversupply of N leads to softening of plant tissue resulting in plants that are more sensitive to diseases
and pests.
3. They reduce the colonization of plant roots with mycorrihizae and inhibit symbiotic N fixation by
rhizobia due to high N fertilization.
4. They enhance the decomposition of soil OM, which leads to degradation of soil structure.
5. Nutrients are easily lost from soils through fixation, leaching or gas emission and can lead to reduced
fertilizer efficiency."
--------------------------

Here is a link that might be useful: See the first link in Google Scholar search


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

They are all just consequences of over application of nitrogen, from any source.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Abstract of paper linked to below:
"Field experiments were conducted to examine the effects of organic and synthetic soil fertility amendments on soil microbial communities and soil physical and chemical properties at three organic and three conventional vegetable farms in Virginia and Maryland in 1996 and 1997. Two treatments, including either an alternative organic soil amendment (composted cotton-gin trash, composted yard waste, or cattle manure) or synthetic soil amendment (fertilizer) were applied to three replicated plots at each grower field location. Production history and time affected propagule densities of Trichoderma species which remained higher in soils from organic farms. Propagule densities of Trichoderma species, thermophilic microorganisms, and enteric bacteria were also detected in greater numbers in soils amended with alternative than synthetic amendments, whereas propagule densities of Phytophthora and Pythium species were lower in soils amended with alternative than synthetic fertility amendments. Concentrations of Ca, K, Mg, and Mn were higher in soils amended with alternative than synthetic fertility amendments. Canonical correlations and principle component analyses indicated significant correlation between these soil chemical factors and the biological communities. First-order canonical correlations were more negative in fields with a conventional history, and use of synthetic fertilizers, whereas canonical correlations were more positive in fields with a history of organic production and alternative soil amendments. In the first year, yields of corn or melon were not different in soil amended with either synthetic or organic amendments at four of six farms. In the second year, when all growers planted tomatoes, yields were higher on farms with a history of organic production, regardless of soil amendment type. Alternative fertility amendments, enhanced beneficial soil microorganisms reduced pathogen populations, increased soil organic matter, total carbon, and cation exchange capacity (CEC), and lowered bulk density thus improving soil quality."

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic and synthetic fertility amendments influence soil microbial, physical and chemical properties on organic and conventional farms


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 21, 13 at 2:27

My understanding is that use of chemical fertilizers harms soils when they are used as a sole source for replacing the essential nutrients that are lost when, for example, harvested fruits or blooms are sent off to market or pruned parts are carted off by the garbage collector (aka "ecosystem export" -- consider that in a natural system, plant debris and nutrients contained therein tend to cycle within it and not leave the system, so added fertility not required).

Chemical NPK fertilizers are packaged in plastic bags or paper boxes, not in organic matter "containers" that would contribute all the other components needed for proper soil structure. Soils depleted of organic matter are poorer soils shown to lack much capacity to retain the nutrients or moisture that are present or to support soil biota carrying out critical functions.

Adding excess amounts of some nutrients can also throw soil biota out of whack, or even destroy them. But, leaving aside the myriad problems from applying too much synthetic fertilizer, the damage to soils is mostly about lack of organic matter replacement, I think, rather than chemical fertilizer use per se, at least at the local level.

Globally, human activities, whether via Haber process or other means, has doubled the amount of fixed, bio-accessible nitrogen "in play" in Earth's ecosystems during a given year and continues to rise, a change in nutrient cycling which cannot be insignificant. (A graph showing this is linked below.)

Harmonyp, I think I remember that you put horse manure on your rose beds, so there's your organic matter right there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Human input to fixed nitrogen


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

The nitrogen that plants take up from organic fertilizers is the same "chemical" nitrogen that they get from manufactured fertilizers; that is, the organic nitrogen has to break down until it is in the form of ammonium, nitrate, or nitrate before plants can take it up. The problem with manufactured N fertilizer is that people often apply too much at once. If you apply smaller amounts more frequently, the effect of manufactured N fertilizer should be the same as organic N fertilizer. Manufactured K fertilizer is released and taken up in the same way as K from organic sources, but a particular chemical form, potassium chloride (muriate of potash) adds undesirable chloride to the soil. This is OK in moderate amounts if you have good drainage, but potassium sulfate is better. Manufactured P fertilizer is often over-applied so that it ties up other nutrients and suppresses mycorrhizal fungi. P should not be applied without a soil test.

Some or all of the benefits of organic fertilizers noted in Henry's abstract would also be provided by an organic mulch used along with manufactured fertilizers containing trace and minor elements.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

lack of organic matter is a different issue to where your nitrogen comes from. I use 'chemical' fert with a good mulch and my soil is as alive as can be. @michaelg talks a lot of sense. The pro organic argument would be served better if less sensationalised information was posted.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I have always practiced using a mix of both organic and inorganic fertilizers. I view it as feeding the soil, soil organisms and plants. Sometimes, organics aren't fast enough, nor strong enough to push something to the timing or limits necessary or desired. When you're facing an event deadline only a few weeks away, there isn't time to rely completely on organics to provide the pop desired.

On the other hand, exclusive use of inorganic fertilizers in my climate, quickly results in all organic material being consumed, leaving only sand, rock, clay and salts in an already highly salty situation. In this heat, three inches of horse manure, kept moist, can degrade, digest, into a thin layer of earthworm casting like material in less than three months.

Many areas around me are savannah to mid desert climates. Most don't experience the really hard freezes, and many endure rather intense, prolonged hot spells. Even in the "wet season", it remains quite dry. We're solidly in the 'rainy period' right now, yet it is bone dry with brilliant sun, light wind, 8% humidity, 81 degrees F, with only .002 inches of rain in what should be a rather wet month.

Our soils are actually rather highly mineralized. What they lack is organic material. Adding generous mulches to the soil surface, combined with a low concentration inorganic such as GroPower Plus and an all purpose organic, with sufficient water, results in some pretty amazing soil. There isn't sufficient nitrogen to get things 'cooking' because we don't usually have a lot of green waste in this climate. Permitting any leaves which are shed to remain, adding other organic material as mulch, then feeding the bacteria and fungi with supplemental nitrogen, gets it all cooking, conditioning the soil and feeding all the various links in the "food chain". Kim


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Do you think the decrease in organic matter is due to the high nitrogen rather than where that nitrogen came from? ie faster rotting?


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

It's a symbiotic relationship. In cooler, damper coastal areas, organics digest much more slowly, in many cases simply fermenting instead of digesting, resulting in a moldy, slimy mass. Add significantly higher heat while maintaining the moisture levels and they disappear quite quickly, no matter what the source of nitrogen. Of course, a more readily available source of nitrogen greatly increases the digestive process. Naturally, there is little "composting" in this climate because of the lack of a regular source of organic material (fallen leaves from trees which just don't grow here), hence a steady nitrogen source, as well as lack of moisture unless artificial irrigation is provided or the rains occur.

The most abundant source of leaf litter in these areas are oaks, eucalyptus and pepper trees, plus the native weeds. Oaks develop a deep litter under them, requiring great time to compost. Pepper and eucalyptus litter seldom "composts", usually remaining quite dry and flammable. The native chaparral "weeds" result in very little "composting" because of the lack of moisture, and the light weight of their leaf litter which frequently blows away. Even with these, in many inland areas there simply isn't any "soil building" because of the lack of forestation and water. Kim


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Caldonbeck ...

Think of it this way ... it's the difference between simmering something on the stove and boiling it.

Smiles,
Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Or, making tea by allowing the tea leaves to soak in cold water on your kitchen counter versus boiling them in water. At the beach, I've seen an inch of bagged compost product remain in place and virtually visibly unchanged for nearly a year where it almost disappeared in the hot valley in less than a summer. I love feeding the soil bacteria. I love seeing the organic material "melt" into the soil. In "landscaped gardens", we generate a ton of green waste and even with green waste recycling, too much of it goes into landfills. Putting it back down ON the ground, where it belongs, then assisting Nature to digest and recycle it is great fun to me. Kim


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

  • Posted by seil z6b MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 21, 13 at 16:55

I feel that if you are using both chemical and organics you can get the boost from the first and keep the soil healthy with the second. All things in moderation is the key.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Bingo! The best of both worlds! I've observed it working beautifully here for thirty-plus years. Unless you're sitting on engineered soil or a sand dune, it improves drainage, moisture retention and boosts the performance of plants very well. Kim


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

When I first started mulching I couldn't understand where it was all going so fast. My sister and I scraped away what was left and saw worms. The worms must be eating it my sister said but I found it hard to believe that such tiny things were eating whole trailer loads of horse manure compost so fast. The truth was that even tinier things were eating it that fast.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Me too! In four years, I have probably put a total of about 20" of manure/compost over my gardens. Looking today, I see straight sand (clearly time to mulch again). But ... I do note that I have quite different earth when I dig new holes. Still sand sand sand, but moisture retaining sand with a much denser, and alive texture than it had before. This thread is extremely informative. I was worried about using Chem. Fertilizers, but I mulch with SO much organic material that I feel much more at ease now.

I had a bit of an epiphony the other day. I have tried to straight compost green material from the kitchen, and just couldn't bare it. The smell was SO awful, it was just digusting. I cleaned the fridge the other day, and ... well, came up with so much green (in truth nothing in that color) stuff, that it seemed such a waste (tee hee) to put in the garbage. I had a huge container of super old, beautifully composted manure by the house that I was going to use in some holes, and I brought all my yuck out and put it in that barrel and stirred. Poof - gone. Days later - absolutely no smell, nothing visual, it just disappeared into the dirt/compost. Earth to earth in earth!


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Karen......

You are right as the rule of thumb is to cover fresh kitchen waste put on the compost pile so that you have no smell.

The only thing to remember with compost put in our beds and in the compost pile is that the bacteria need oxygen. That's why you don't compost too deeply in the beds and you stir the compost pile.

The bacteria do the rest.

Smiles,
Lyn


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2 bits, maybe a dollar:

Problems, sadly, are usually a result of success.

Huh?

Well, say for example, I fertilize and I get rapid results in growth and bloom production. What would this result tend to influence me to do? I might just decide if it works like that I should keep doing it.

"2. Oversupply of N leads to softening of plant tissue resulting in plants that are more sensitive to diseases and pests."

And more susceptible to freeze damage and drought and basically any challenge.

These are observable ill effects on plants which no sensible gardener would ever attribute to the fertilizer regimen because it is ostensibly, at least, reasonable to assume that fertilizing is like giving them their vitamins. It is easy to conclude ideas like: "oh, they like that!" and more powerfully "oh, I like that!"

Fitting most of us humans into handbaskets is much less difficult than Physics allows.

Also key is understanding that the adverse effect on soil is invisible because human visual acuity doesn't include microscopic levels.

OTOH: Some fungi are visible exceptions. And these can be wonderful indicators of the health of the soil. Do I have mushrooms of any sort (or many varied sorts) each year? If yes, then I can feel somewhat reassured about the general health of my soil.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

The following was stated: "OTOH: Some fungi are visible exceptions."

I agree. The main test that I use is the long white threads of Mycorrhizal fungi that I can see in my garden soil.

Here is a link that might be useful: go down this link to picture of mycorrhizal fungi


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

SandandSun.........

I truly find posts like the one above with a quote from Henry's post"

"2. Oversupply of N leads to softening of plant tissue resulting in plants that are more sensitive to diseases and pests."

and your conclusion:

"Also key is understanding that the adverse effect on soil is invisible because human visual acuity doesn't include microscopic levels"

to be quite simplistic in that the basic premise is that all soils are equal and that people will over-use chemical fertilizers. Not true.

It takes Mother Nature decades to create loamy soil. She's quite good at it, but rather inconsistent.

When I started my rose garden in '04, my soil was dead. Totally and completely dead. The previous owners of my home were in their 90s and had killed off all of the plants and weeds, put down weed barrier and covered everything with decorative rock.

Since the house pad and the gardening area was cut out of a rocky slope and is about 4' down from where the top soil would be, I am essentially gardening in subsoil which has no plant organic material in it. (The areas I have not cultivated still can't even grow weeds.)

The use of chemical fertilizers along with organic fertilizers and mulching twice a year has allowed me to create a rose garden with healthy, productive roses.

Last year, I tried to use less chemical fertilizer and more organic fertilizers along with the mulching, but the plants were not as healthy. Is it because they are dependent on the chemical fertilizer and were suffering from withdrawal ? Or was the performance affected by insufficient organic material which supplies nitorgen in a form the plant can use ? Hard to say by just looking at the plants.

However when I was re-working a bed that was one of the first I had created, I found that the soil in maybe the top 3 to 4 inches greatly improved with plenty of worms which are an indicator of soil life. But further down, the soil still has not improved sufficiently to be considered viable without the assistance of the chemical fertilizers.

I have little or no disease in this garden and in winter, my night temps can go down to the low teens and I have no die back.

Not all soils are equal. The key to success in my garden is the combination of using chemicals, organics and mulch.

Gardening with any plant is a combination of many variables, so most generalization just don't fit most circumstances. It is the gardener who assists nature in creating an environment where plants can succeed.

Smiles,
Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

You know, I can see if you were only using inorganic fertilizers many problems with soil, diseases and insects would result. Using high guaranteed analysis types such as a 16-16-16 in inappropriate situations such as low drainage, low rainfall, high heat, etc., could also result in issues, or using them where drainage and run off are high so pollution of water sources would result. But, there are many situations where organics just don't provide the push desired or required. And, it IS the desires of the person owning the garden which matter, as long as the products used and the situations in which they are used are appropriate. Cold, wet soils don't sufficiently benefit from only organic feeding. Sub soils don't obtain sufficient benefit from only organics. Providing appropriate levels of AVAILABLE nitrogen to help kick-start the biological process with the organics has quickly resulted in decent soil which can continue digesting organics as they are applied. Providing it in spring to get the stuff "cooking" so it remains available as the weather heats up, keeps the plants pushing, growing and producing without resulting in insect and disease issues. Kim


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Thread Reference

Here is a link that might be useful: Reference Thread


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Behaviorial perspective

Here is a link that might be useful: Perspective


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Tedium

Tedium

Here is a link that might be useful: Tedium


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Naturally

I'm reminded of this line in a post in the thread linked below, "Naturally, they don't expect that I will initiate conversation with them after enduring their know it all ridicule."

Here is a link that might be useful: Naturally


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I so wish there was a like button on this forum @roseblush1


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

The following statement was made: "..........to be quite simplistic in that the basic premise is that all soils are equal and that people will over-use chemical fertilizers. Not true."

H.Kuska comment. Of course it is not true particularily because no one in this thread made such a premise.

The post being critized has "say for example", "tend to influence me to do?", and "I might just decide".

The above is very different than "WILL". My interpretation is that the post being discussed discusses a possibility that an inexperienced gardener "could" follow.

Taking an argument to an extreme and then showing that the extreme is wrong is called: "setting up a straw man".

I had been a member of 2 local rose societies for many years, and I feel that I am in a position to state from experience that the above possibility is a real one - but please understand that "possibility that a subset of gardeners could make the mistake that "since a little works more would be better" and the statement: "basic premise is that all soils are equal and that people will over-use chemical fertilizers." are 2 different starting points.

Here is a link that might be useful: straw man definition


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Thank you all for making this such an incredibly informative thread. I now feel super comfortable adding chemical fertilizer as I was, in moderation, in conjunction with healthy and probably slightly excessive mulching (since I have 14 horses) with organics. In reading other stuff, especially from Kim about not wasting valuable resources, I'm motivated to compost more green material from the house now that I know it isn't awful when mixed with earth to muffle the fragrance of composting green material.

Clearly time to go to other places now. After a few unnecessary battles, have finally learned (the hard way, but learned none-the-less) when to leave a thread.

We've all been so well behaved lately. One poster on this forum continually likes to get into battles over minutia, and will continue to degrade this thread and forum as long as you're willing to participate. Would suggest a quiet exit for all at this time. Lets find another fun topic.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Q: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Roses?
A: Maybe not, but they affect the Long Term Health of people (including the gardener), the water and our environment.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

lbuzzell - what is your data to support your answer?


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

harmonyp, there's more scientific evidence for the effects of chemical pesticides, fertiizers and herbicides on human health, water quality, pollinators and the environment than I can list here. I was alerted to the effects on rose gardeners years ago by a lecturer on organic rose gardening who said she had stopped using toxics because so many people in her rose society were coming down with cancer. I took note of that and have never used them since.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I forgot to add that I was also very moved by Jeri Jennings' report about her dog collapsing with seizures from garden toxics.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

"Toxics" generally refers to "cides" ( Latin: a suffix; kill, killer; murder, to cause death, slayer; cutter), such as herbicides, pesticides, miticides and fungicides, not "fertilizers". ANYTHING used in sufficiently great concentration can easily become a "cide", including water (or the lack of it). Kim


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Linda..........

We are talking about fertilizers in this thread and it is not about insecticides or herbicides. That is totally another discussion.

Smiles,
Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Title: "Effect of crop protection and fertilization regimes used in organic and conventional production systems on feed composition and physiological parameters in rats"

H. Kuska comment: This reviewed scientific American Chemical Society research paper (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry) is presented here not for its crop protection studies but for its fertilization regimes studies and literature review.

From literature review: "the use of mineral fertilizers increased Cd, Ni, Cu, and Zn concentrations compared to crops fertilized with compost"

From their research:
"The use of manure instead of mineral fertilizers in feed production resulted in lower concentrations of protein (18.8 vs. 20.6 %) and cadmium (3.33 vs. 4.92 ��g/100g) but higher concentrations of polyphenols (1.46 vs. 0.89 g/100g) in feeds and higher body protein (22.0 vs. 21.5 %), body ash (3.59 vs. 3.51 %), white blood cell count (10.86 vs. 8.19 �~103/mm3), plasma glucose (7.23 vs. 6.22 mmol/L), leptin (3.56 vs. 2.78 ng/mL), insulin-like growth factor 1 (1.87 vs. 1.28 ��g/mL), corticosterone (247 vs. 209 ng/mL) and spontaneous lymphocyte proliferation (11.14 vs. 5.03 �~103 cpm) but lower plasma testosterone (1.07 vs. 1.97 ng/mL) and mitogen stimulated proliferation of lymphocytes (182 vs. 278 �~103 cpm) in rats."

The whole paper is available free (but you have to register).

Here is a link that might be useful: link to abstract


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Fortunately, I don't eat my roses ;)


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

hehe @harmonyp. People far too eager to say how bad fertilisers are but with no science to back them up. I think bundling them in with pesticides herbicides etc is used as a ploy to try to scare people. It is naive to think we could sustain the population of the planet on manure and compost, really naive.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Earlier in this thread a subthread was started:
"Q: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Roses?
A: Maybe not, but they affect the Long Term Health of people (including the gardener), the water and our environment."
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That post was challenged by another post:
".....what is your data to support your answer?
-----------------------------
In this post I will link to an environmental issue.

Abstract introduction: "The atmospheric nitrous oxide mixing ratio has increased by 20% since 1750 (ref. 1). Given that nitrous oxide is both a long-lived greenhouse gas2 and a stratospheric ozone-depleting substance3, this increase is of global concern."


Abstract concluding statement:

"These long-term trends allow us to distinguish between natural and anthropogenic sources of nitrous oxide, and confirm that the rise in atmospheric nitrous oxide levels is largely the result of an increased reliance on nitrogen-based fertilizers."
---------------------------
This link is to what the EPA has to say:
http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/n2o.html

"Nitrous oxide is emitted when people add nitrogen to the soil through the use of synthetic fertilizers. Agricultural soil management is the largest source of N2O emissions in the United States, accounting for about 68% of total U.S. N2O emissions in 2010."

Here is a link that might be useful: link for first set of quotes above


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

The following statement was made:

"It is naive to think we could sustain the population of the planet on manure and compost, really naive."

H. Kuska comment: Where did someone make this statement in this subthread? I interpret this statement as another example of trying to argue from an extreme - the statement may be true, but it is not addressing the point of this subthread: synthetic fertilizers as being used now are causing environmental problems.


"Nitrogen (N) is central to living systems, and its addition to agricultural cropping systems is an essential facet of modern crop management and one of the major reasons that crop production has kept pace with human population growth. The benefits of N added to cropping systems come at significant environmental costs, including increased coastal hypoxia, atmospheric N2O emissions, increased reactive N gases to the atmosphere, and N deposition onto forests and other natural areas as some of the consequences of inability to keep fertilizer N from leaving cropped ecosystems."

Please see: http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-007-5364-8_11?LI=true

Here is a link that might be useful: Conclusions: Towards Managing Agricultural Soils for Mitigating Nitrous Oxide Emissions


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Blimey this is boring. If harmonyp wants better roses by giving them fertiliser then she(?) should go ahead. The people arguing on here are so morally superior I'm sure they don't eat any cereals or green crops, meat, fruit etc. The 8% of total greenhouse gas that is n2o is surely not coming from gardeners, and after all, clue is in the name "gardenweb" a usually sensible forum not dominated by one or two nutters. As you seem such a fan of ridiculously pedantic arguments, the thread was about future health of her roses not trying to fix the world single handedly.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Cadonbeck.....

It gets like this when Henry gets into his linking mode. This thread is really over, now. It's time for the rest of us to move on.

Smiles,
Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

One last word of support for Henry. It turns out that home gardeners are a significant source of pollution (sometimes more than farmers), so each of us who opts out is doing the planet a favor. Blessings and thanks to everyone who's helping out with this.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Thanks Linda, now, did your supporting source possibly offer any suggestions as to how much of the "significant pollution source" can be attributed to home ornamental growers; home fruit and vegetable growers and how much is attributable to the enormous areas of turf so many dump tons of high nitrogen fertilizers on every month? There should be a tremendous difference between the 20# of 5-4-3 I put down in a garden and the 40#+ of at least 16% nitrogen their lawn guy dumps on the Marathon 2 monthly. Kim


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

It is a documented fact that lawn fertilizers make up the bulk of this pollution.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

So, Linda, how do you know that each of us are not doing our part ?

I have a no spray garden for the reasons you mention above .. to do my part, but I will continue to use chemical fertilizers until my soil builds to where is is viable and can support plant growth and am quite aware that over use of any chemical can cause damage to soil organisms and/or be pollutants.

Generalizations again. tsk, tsk.

Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Hi Lyn,
I'm glad to hear that most rose folks are doing their part. Thanks to all who are doing so.
My understanding is that there is no need to use chemical fertilizers on roses. Our roses do fine on organic fertilizers, compost and mulch. And of course when most of our heritage roses were born, that's exactly what they were fed! Dean Hole, one of the founders of the UK Rose Society, waxed poetic about manures in his "A Book on Roses."
For more info on the problems with chemical fertilizers, whether they're put on golf courses, parks or backyards: http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/oceans101104.cfm


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

The following was stated: "There should be a tremendous difference between the 20# of 5-4-3 I put down in a garden and the 40#+ of at least 16% nitrogen their lawn guy dumps on the Marathon 2 monthly."

H. Kuska comment: "maybe" this assumption ("40#+ of at least 16% nitrogen their lawn guy dumps on the Marathon 2 monthly") was accurate in the past but now the lawn service companies appear to be responding to environmental concerns (please notice even the "big names" in the Google search).

Since it appears that "some" will not open links, here is an example of what Scotts lawn service offers to those who are concerned about the environment:

"Scotts LawnService® Organic Choice™
Lawn Care Programs
There’s more than one way to get a Scotts® Lawn. With Scotts LawnService Organic Choice™ programs, you can feed your lawn all season long using 100% natural fertilizers. These fertilizers are even more kid and pet-friendly, so you and your family can enjoy your lawn immediately after they're applied. And they work on any type of grass in any climate."

http://www.scottslawnservice.com/sls/templates/index.jsp?pageUrl=slsAboutOrganics
--------------------------------------------

Here is a link that might be useful: Google results for home organic lawn service


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

"Healthier" options abound for everything, Henry, and they're great....when followed. However, from personal experience, many who have popped for the name brand turf, deliberately seek out the name brand fertilizer believing it is the best for their expensive sod. The top name specified around here is Marathon and their fertilizer is:

Formulated especially for your Marathon Lawn.
Nitrogen-rich for quick greening.
Three fertilizers in one, using three application rates:
Quick Boost - revives faded lawns with a high nitrogen formula.
Winter - high nitrate gives relief to yellowed lawns in cooler weather.
Maintenance - provides the right balance of nutrients to keep lawns green and looking lush no matter the season.

The "starter mix" contains 15% nitrogen; the "maintenance" type contains a whopping 25%. Stand outside the big box stores and garden centers here and watch the tonnage of it flowing out of them. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Marathon fertilizers


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

In the past many people smoked, did not use seatbelts, used arsenic in the garden etc. What people did (or are doing) is interesting, but hopefully should not serve as a rational for future actions.

One of the purposes of scientific research is to determine what is safe for us individually, our families, our neighborhood, and for the environment now and in the future. Those who looked at the EPA link found that:

"Nitrous oxide molecules stay in the atmosphere for an average of 120 years before being removed by a sink or destroyed through chemical reactions. The impact of 1 pound of N2O on warming the atmosphere is over 300 times that of 1 pound of carbon dioxide."

i.e. one's use of synthetic fertilizer is contributing to global warming for an average of 120 years. With a generation interval of 30 years, this means that todays use of synthetic fertilizer will affect at least 4 generations. Of course there is always the possibility/probability/fact that some other route is contributing more. Personally, I do not accept that as a justification for not doing my part.

--------------------------------------
There are scientific studies of synthetic fertilizer problems generated by the home user but I have not yet found one, that I could access free, that separated lawn and garden contributions. Perhaps this Seattle one (published in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment)
does (I do not have free access to the complete article):

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1065/lca2007.07.350?LI=true

"Background, Aims and Scope
Measuring Environmental Value for Natural Lawn and Garden Care Practices provides a life cycle assessment and impacts valuation methodology to quantify environmental (public health and ecological) and water conservation benefits from natural lawn and garden care practices in Seattle. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) initiated this study as part of a triple-bottom-line analysis of its Natural Lawn and Garden Care program."

Here is a link that might be useful: EPA link presented earlier


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Linda... you understand that chemical fertilizers are not needed on roses.... geesh...did you bother to read my post above ? When you start with dead soil and are working to build it to viable soil, you cannot grow vegetables, fruit or ornamentals. Please read my post above and you will see a description of the soil I am working with.

Not all soils are equal.

Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Lyn, I'm not following my own advise am I !!!

How many fruits and vegetables do you guys think you eat that haven't been chemically fertilized, with every imaginable "cide" applied to them you can imagine. I live in ag central - you should see the planes and helicopters flying over spraying horrible toxins on the food you buy from the grocery stores. Not even getting into the discussion of bioengineered foods. If you eat meat, do you have any idea of the hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals you are getting through your meat?

Peanut butter causes cancer in labratory rats. I'm sure so does tea, coffee, water from plastic containers. We're all hosed. So I'm putting chemical fertilizers on my roses. Done. Thanks all!


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Google should be of help if one is interested in restoring dead soil. The link below gives the hits for the keywords:

restoring completely dead soil

Please notice that I did NOT search only for:

organic methods of restoring completely dead soil.

Maybe it was sheer "luck" but most of the links I looked at did not mention using syntheic fertilizer (to be specific only one did).

Here is a link that might be useful: Google search


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Yup... sheer luck. All focused on top soil, not subsoil.

But thank you for trying, Henry.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

You can grow roses I'm sure with manure and mulches alone but not to the quality you'd like. I don't think anybody is saying chemical ferts improve soil but they help thing grow in a less healthy soil. Don't forget how much methane comes from compost production and belching ruminants.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I present for the reader's pleasure the recommendations of The American Rose Society. Published by the ARS and available online and as a downloadable pdf reference from the link below.
Please enjoy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizers:When and How (published by the ARS)


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Egads! If I followed even the least grueling regimen the ARS recommends, I'd probably have a coronary.

Melissa


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I keep thinking about this thread. The idea that without chemical fertilizers you can't have the best roses just doesn't wash. The amazing Master Rosarian who does Oprah's roses is a member of our local rose society. Oprah demands total organic care of her roses because she uses the petals in her bath (yes, it would be nice to be a billionaire!)and also wants the best blooms for the house. She gets both, of course. Apparently one of the secrets is something called the Island Seed & Feed Landscape Mix - a totally organic fertilizer that gives roses everything they need to bloom their hearts out. Island Seed & Feed is an organic nursery in Goleta, CA not too many miles from Oprah's Montecito estate.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Oh god, here I was thinking this thread had died. If Oprah does it I'm sure everybody on gardenweb will start to follow suit.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I have nothing scientific to add, but will say that I use both organic and chemical fertilizers on my plants. I prefer organic, but my dogs love it, too, and will dig it out and eat it. So, I have to bury it and put coffee grounds over it, or dissolve it in water and pour it on, or use chemicals. It depends upon my time and energy which I use.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I was looking for Vigoro but couldn't find big bags, so yesterday I bought three 20 lb bags of Scotts 12-4-8 Rose & Bloom Continuous Release Granules, on sale at Lowes for $17.99 a bag. That should take care of my roses for the year.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Background reading:

http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Synthetic-Fertilizers-Environmental-Risks_vq1404.htm

Here is a link that might be useful: Synthetic-Fertilizers-Environmental-Risks


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

That's interesting to read what Oprah uses, but I can't understand why she would put the petals in her bath. I mean, they can't go down the drain with the water because it would get clogged. Therefore, wouldn't a servant have to scoop all of the petals out afterwards. Perhaps I am overthinking this:)

Maude


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

It's not clear to me what the problem of NO2 pollution has to do with the distinction between manufactured and natural fertilizers. Doesn't x pounds of N from manure or alfalfa tend to produce about the same potential for air pollution as x pounds of N from manufactured fertilizer?


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I'd imagine the total effects of one pound of pure nitrogen from either source would be the same, Michael. I guess the primary difference would be that one pound of nitrogen from urea would take much longer to be released than one pound of nitrogen from sulfate of ammonia. Perhaps the slower release over a longer period permits it to be utilized in the atmosphere more efficiently, causing less "pollution"? I dunno. Kim


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Of course once the nitrogen is released, it behaves the same per pound.

The important question is how much nitrogen escapes (does not go to feed the plant) per pound applied?

"Losses of N via denitrification as N2 or N2O gas can be important under some conditions, but are generally small enough to be ignored in estimating PAN from manure."

PAN is "plant-available nitrogen".

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/em/em8954-e.pdf

As an aside, please read the area in blue titled:
"The Environment and N Loss from Manures�Why Do We Care?"

The advantage of organic fertilizers in being more efficient delivers of nitrogen is supported by actual reseach. The following is a recent scientific review:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880912003489

"Highlights
► Information about N2O emissions from Mediterranean crops was analyzed. ► Direct N2O fluxes are generally lower for organic than for synthetic fertilizers. ► Irrigation highly increased emissions, but the increase was lower with drip irrigation. ► The most promising practices, constraints and research gaps have been summarized. ► Further research is needed to fully understand and develop N2O mitigation potential."

Here is a link that might be useful: link to above quote


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

The "link to above quote" is misleading. It is the link to the first quote. The link to the scientific review is given below:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880912003489

Here is a link that might be useful: link to scientific review


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Oh, Dear....

This means I cannot grow any kind of garden, much less roses. As stated above, my uncultivated soil won't even grow weeds. This is so sad.

Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

  • Posted by RpR_ 3-4 (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 6, 13 at 23:55

" Posted by lbuzzell
One last word of support for Henry. It turns out that home gardeners are a significant source of pollution (sometimes more than farmers), ...."-------To this I say that is a crock of BS.

Possible, if you are speaking of those who zap there lawn repeatedly with fertilizer you may have point, but I know no one who repeatedly blasts their garden with fertilizer any where even approaching that put on lawns.

I have never seen anyone running a broadcast spreader up and down his/her garden repeatedly all summer long.

Also foliar feeding does not have the possibility of poisoning anything the way granular does.
And to that, I have never seen anyone broadcast feed a rose garden.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Can anyone answer this for me? I was told that the Native Americans used to go to where the thunderstorm had been because that was where the nitrogen charged rain had fallen. By this thinking doesn't the lightning put the extra nitrogen in the air into the rain and then to the ground? I also heard that tying up the plants (tomatoes) with nylon hosiery and metal supports will draw nitrogen out of the air and to the plants. Is this true or not?


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

The following was stated: "I know no one who repeatedly blasts their garden with fertilizer any where even approaching that put on lawns."
H. Kuska comment: interesting, but in many (most?) neighborhoods that I am familar with most people do not put any or at most once in the spring fertilizer applications on their lawns (those who use a lawn service are the exceptions, and there are not many of them).
One example in the literature.
"Do I really need to fertilize my lawn?
In terms of turf survival, the answer probably is no, since the majority of lawns in Oregon receive little or no fertilizer and are more or less functional."
----------------------------------------

Here is a link that might be useful: link for above


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Kitty, I fear that by putting nylon hosiery in your yard, you may attract some unwanted attention. But somehow I think you may be onto something with the metal - if you put giant pieces out, it may attract lightening to hit the garden, and if the lightening doesn't burn up all the tomatoes, they may well end up fertilized. Or if you fail, you may have a new recipe for fried green tomatoes.

Actually, since we're talking about pollution, I'd like to posit that lawns cause pollution. They are ultimately a waste of prime rose and garden real estate, and the mowers needed to mow lawns certainly pollute the air.

Of course, then again, I am a major polluter by owning horses. You should see the smoldering piles of composting manure. The heat build up is incredible, and you really note the steam coming out in the cold weather. I can't wait until spring so I can apply my chemical fertilizer...


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

@kittymoonbeam the first is true, lightening fixes nitrogen from the air which is why your lawn always looks greener after a thunder storm. Doubt the metal spikes thing though, don't know why that would work.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

There was a garden show on PBS and they showed a man's large tomato garden. He grew about 20 heirlooms and 30+ modern tomatoes. He was using the metal tomato cages and nylons and said it made the leaves greener. I never tried it out to see if I got the same results. If I have room for a few tomatoes, then I have room for another rose! Tomato ladders from Gardener's Supply Co. make great supports for floppy bands just planted out though and they last a long time.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

New nitrogen article.

"A paper just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows the impacts of nitrogen deposition in the environment may extend even further than previously thought. Dr Richard Payne and Professor Nancy Dise, of Manchester Metropolitan University, together with colleagues at Lancaster University and the Open University, studied more than 100 individual plant species� reactions to nitrogen deposition at 153 grassland sites across Europe."

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1804679/wildflowers_at_risk_from_safe_levels_of_pollution.html

Here is a link that might be useful: link for above


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 11, 13 at 12:16

Nice article, Henry, about impacts of human input of fixed nitrogen into the biosphere.

An interesting example from the Netherlands that I often use features a common perennial grass that is a phosphorous hyper-accumulator, Brachypodium pinnatum. With nitrogen deposition, it can proliferate and create monospecific stands because, having cornered all available phosphorous in a given area, only it is able to use the excess nitrogen (good example for Liebig's law of the minimum).

The same sort of thing is playing out here in California along freeway corridors, where the exotic annual grasses capitalize on auto emissions to the detriment of native plant species which, for the most part, do not take up and respond to added nutrients the way exotic plant species do. Stuart Weiss at Stanford University has documented these effects on the larval host plant of the now-highly-endangered Bay Checkerspot Butterfly.

Below is a link to a UC Berkeley study that measured the extent that synthetic fertilizers have added to "in-play" nitrogen in greenhouse gas form. As one of the study authors says:

"We are not vilifying fertilizer. We can't just stop using fertilizer," she added. "But we hope this study will contribute to changes in fertilizer use and agricultural practices that will help to mitigate the release of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere."

~Debbie

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizer and atmospheric nitrous oxide


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

All I usually put on is nirtogen because that is the nutrient that is lacking. Our soils in our area are rich in phosphorus and potash so I don't add it. I have a Kelway soil tester and my ph is 6.3. I look at my leaves and they tell the whole story. If they are not a good greencolor something is wrong. Ph will throw off any good fertilizer. I like to use Monty's Joy Juice for my regular fertilizer.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

My soil is definitely nitrogen poor and there is no doubt until the soil is built up to where it is viable, I will have to add nitrogen and other nutrients. It's a long process to build soil.

Importing good soil is not always an option, so learning how to work with what you have and still be environmentally responsible is simply ... and difficult at the same time ... part of doing one's part to protect the earth's environment.

As I have thought about this thread, I've realized that there is nothing that we do that will not have some kind of consequence as we are pushing our plants, our soil ... our whole gardens ... to perform in a fashion that is not found in nature. So, to me, it's a matter of balance. I try to do my part, but I cannot manage to do it 100% perfectly all of the time in this garden.

I am grateful to those who point out the impact of over use of chemicals and other practices that harm the environment, because the message does need to get out, but the expectation that all of us can go to organic gardening just because it is "the right thing to do" doesn't take into consideration all of the variables that are a part of gardening.

Just my 2 cents.

Smiles,
Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I found it interesting to hear how much the California Cash Crop growers have contributed to organic fertilizers and pesticides. (from a talk on backyard orchard culture by Tom Spellman of Dave Wilson Nurseries)

Something to be thankful to pot for :)


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

"lightening fixes nitrogen from the air which is why your lawn always looks greener after a thunder storm"
Or maybe all the rain washes the dust off the grass.

I am very fortunate, I now have 4 guinea pigs who work full time producing fertilizer. Cuter and safer than lightening.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 11, 13 at 18:09

I think that's an important point, Lyn. Some folks have a perfection mania on this subject and others; it's either whole-hog, 100% and suffering, or nothing. That's nonsense and counter-productive, I think. Generally speaking, just doing the easiest steps in conservation, the so-called "low-hanging fruits", causes relatively little pain but contributes the most progress. But if someone gets the idea its 100% or nothing, why try?

For example, we just got an energy audit from the power company and found out that we use 5% less energy overall than the average amount used by the LOWEST 20% of similar energy users in our area. I keep indoor temps warm (no British house temps here!), we don't read by candlelight, we have all the normal appliances, and even use an electric clothes dryer most of the time and the air conditioner from time to time in the summer (gasp!). We did throw a bit more insulation in the attic and tend to buy EnergyStar appliances. If everybody did what we do, however, energy use in this area would drop by 40% overall (45% less electricity, 30% less natural gas). That's a lot, and has caused us no pain (and not much upfront money -- all of which has been repaid many times over).

As for garden fertilizers, alfalfa pellets seem to work okay for conditions here for the plants in the ground (and I don't do shows or exhibition, so no need to push), but I use Osmocote for all my potted plants. I try to retain organic matter as much as possible, but I'm not above importing some, as needed. Like you say, it's a matter of balance.

Debbie


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I had the pleasure of hearing Michael Shoup of the ARE speak Sat. I was astonished that the ARE display gardens are organic--the profusion of blooms & the size & health of the plants are stunning. I had guessed that they did some "souping-up" with inorganic fertilizers, too.

He strongly emphasized feeding the soil--like Nature does--with a mix of organic ingredients. He also noted that the evidence of fungi mycelia is indicative of good soil health. A real interesting talk--& funny!


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

"But if someone gets the idea its 100% or nothing, why try?"

Good point Debbie. We're growing roses because we enjoy having them.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

How do you guys think your alfalfa is grown by the way? Not something we have here but if it is a crop it will be fed. You are just buying your haber produced nitrogen another way!!

And no @lucille rain in a thunder storm is like foliar feed. Nothing to do with dust!!


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

  • Posted by catspa NoCa Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 11, 13 at 22:15

Caldonbeck,

As a perennial crop that carries out nitrogen-fixation (family Fabaceae), alfalfa is not fertilized with nitrogen (will actually suppress production), though phosphorous and potassium can be supplied to improve yields. I will grant you that fossil fuel is used to harvest and transport it to the farm supply store! (Bless those rhizobacteria!)

Debbie


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Debbie ....

You phrased the issue for non-compliance better than I did in my post. It's the all-or-nothing thinking that does more harm for the movement towards utilization of environmentally responsible practices.

I do not exhibit, nor do I expect perfect roses all of the time, but I do want a rose garden in spite of poor soil. Alfalfa pellets just cannot do the job in soil as poor as mine. It takes time, heat and other variables to break the alfalfa down into the salts that allow the plant to take up nutrients through reverse osmosis. Of course, it is a long term goal and I am working in that direction. It sounds like you are gardening in fertile soil compared to mine.

Caldenbeck may have commented on alfalfa, but the principle is the same. What we do in one area compromises the environment in another area. Specific example: If I could afford the labor and material required to import soil that was sufficiently viable to support my gardening goals to allow me to go totally organic, the source of that soil's environment would be impacted.

When I collected forest duff .. the partly decayed organic matter on the forest floor ... to bring organic material into the garden, I was impacting the forest. Everything we do to support our artificial environment called a garden has an impact somewhere else.

However, as part of doing my part, I only send approximately 8 garbage cans of waste to the landfills a year. Everything else is recycled or re-purposed. Yes, there are other things, but they are not needed to make the point.

As you pointed out, working to save our environment is many faceted and therefore there is no one answer that is going to make a significant difference. They are all inter-connected, but if we each go for those "low hanging fruit" you mentioned, there is no doubt that we can create change.

The first step is to get rid of the "all-or-nothing-thinking" and the second step is to recognize that doing our part may not be in the garden, but somewhere else in our daily lives. It does add up to make a difference.

Smiles,
Lyn


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Life is not all or nothing.

A large percentage of Alfalfa growers, as well as Soybean, Corn, and Cotton and more, are growing "Roundup Ready", or glyphosate-resistant seed.

From a great informative article at:
http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8153.pdf

"Roundup (glyphosate) is a broad-spectrum herbicide that kills a wide range of plants. It is not normally applied directly to crops. The RR technology incorporates genetic resistance to glyphosate into crop plants by inserting a single bacterial gene that modifies 5-enolpyruvylshkimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase, and enzyme essential for plant growth."

Bottom line, these crops can be (and ARE) sprayed with roundup with no adverse affect to the crop itself.

Genetic bio-engineering continues on our livestock and human food sources. "Cides" are liberally applied to them. I find it amusing to call them organic additives to our ground when used as mulch. Of course I also find the continuation of this thread amusing!

Definitely not "all or nothing".


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 13, 13 at 11:55

There's two meanings of "organic" being intermingled and confusing the issues, I think, harmonyp.

Whether or not something is grown "organically" (a cultural movement based on sometimes questionable premises, in this ecologist's opinion) has nothing to do with whether or not it is an organic form of nitrogen (i.e., nitrogen as part of a large organic molecule that breaks apart slowly into plant-usable forms of nitrogen).

Nitrate and ammonium, which are inorganic, ionic compounds, are considered the plant-usable forms of nitrogen, although this view is being modified as more and more evidence piles up for plants sometimes using organic forms of nitrogen directly.

As opposed to nitrogen in large organic molecules, the inorganic forms of nitrogen, provided en masse by synthetic/manufactured fertilizers, are highly mobile in the environment. If they aren't taken up immediately by the plant, they readily move into waterways or the atmosphere where the excess becomes a problem.

So, probability of over-application is the main issue, first-order, not the form of nitrogen. Don't use excessive amounts of synthetic fertilizers and it's not a problem. Over-application of synthetic fertilizer by rose gardeners would be less than a pittance, anyway; it's large-scale use of excessive amounts of synthetics in big agriculture that is of concern (plus concomitant doubling of "in-play" nitrogen in ecosystems due to the need to feed exponentially-growing human populations, but THAT problem is second-order and beyond...).

My preference for alfalfa lies in it being an organic molecule form that makes nitrogen slowly available over a long period of time, having other benefits for the soil, and posing less potential for application of excessive amounts. It is cheap, easy to obtain and use, and my roses look fine to me. I am too lazy and busy to keep track of multiple applications and timing required for synthetic fertilizers over the growing season. So, win-win on a number of fronts; who could complain?

As a consultant in restoration ecology, I'm actually a big fan of Roundup. It's an important tool-of-the-trade, though usually considered only after non-chemical means are considered and rejected.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

  • Posted by catspa NoCa Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 13, 13 at 12:15

Lyn, I totally agree and well said! ~ Debbie


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

How much Roundup do you think could remain in the alfalfa and would it slow down the growth of roses ? I never thought to look for organic alfalfa.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Kitty - probably so negligable it's not even worth thinking about. So much is semantics. I only raised the issue for people who are so steadfast and purist in everything having to be "organic", to define organic? And please, don't in this thread, this has become so tedious I don't know why my morbid curiosity still brings me back.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

It appears to me that one point that has been overlooked is the type of synthetic fertilizer that harmonyp selected:

" harmonyp NorCA 9b (My Page) on Wed, Feb 6, 13 at 9:51

I was looking for Vigoro but couldn't find big bags, so yesterday I bought three 20 lb bags of Scotts 12-4-8 Rose & Bloom Continuous Release Granules, "

--------------------------------------------

Please notice " Continuous Release Granules".

The negative comments about synthetic fertilizer are based on the normal synthetic fertilizer which immediately releases its nitrogen most of which escapes into the environment.

As posted by michaelg z6B NC Mts (My Page) on Mon, Jan 21, 13 at 12:37 pointed out earlier in this thread:

"The problem with manufactured N fertilizer is that people often apply too much at once. If you apply smaller amounts more frequently, the effect of manufactured N fertilizer should be the same as organic N fertilizer."
This is exactly what "continuous release" and also "organic fertilizer" does.


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

I was greeted this morning by 2 news stories applicable to the overuse of nitrates.

1) "When students start school in the Salinas Valley town of Bradley, they bring with them with pens, paper and notebooks. The school district provides their water bottles.

That is because tap water in this south Monterey County school is undrinkable. It’s contaminated with dangerously high levels nitrates. "

"Nitrates are most dangerous to babies under 6 months, in whom it can cause blue baby syndrome, and pregnant women, Sandoval said. In others, nitrates are expected carcinogens. "

"Poor water quality in schools is largely, but not entirely, a rural issue. In rural communities the problem is frequently nitrates, likely from neighboring farms where nitration-based fertilizers are used"

--------------------------------------------

2) "UN says fertiliser crisis is damaging the planet"

" The mass application of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients needed for plant growth has had huge benefits for world food and energy production, but it has also caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health, causing toxic algal blooms, killing fish, threatening sensitive ecosystems and contributing to climate change, says the report, “Our Nutrient World”."

"As their use has intensified, so have the unintended side effects, especially eutrophication ��" the process which occurs when excess nutrients run off into water bodies and promote excessive plant growth, especially of algae. The resulting algal blooms can be toxic to fish and other water life and even to people, and they are occurring across the world in rivers, lakes and the sea. The large amounts of nitrogen being pumped into the environment are also contributing to air pollution and to global warming, as some oxides of nitrogen are greenhouse gases. "

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/un-says-fertiliser-crisis-is-damaging-the-planet-8498777.html

Here is a link that might be useful: Salinas Valley news article


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RE: Chemical Fertilizers - Do they Affect Long Term Health of Ros

Henry,

Just and FYI about the valley the first article is written about. This is not your average farm area growing some hay or corn. This is where your lettuce, spinach and other fast growing quickly repeated food comes from (80% of the NATIONS lettuce and artichokes per the chamber of commerce) I would not be surprised that there was a problem there, but one has to look at the bigger picture and understand that not all crops are the same.


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