fertlizer question

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by poppy, Apr 30, 2005.

  1. poppy

    poppy Guest

    Some of you folks more up to date on this might be able to help. I tested my garden soil. The PH was fine ( I spread lime on it last year ). The nitrogen was on the low side, as was the phosphorus. The potash was down to nothing. I get confused about the numbers on bagged fertilizer. Mostly around here you find 10-10-10. How many pounds should I put on a 30 x 60 garden?
     
  2. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    The 10-10-10 is percentage of each component, so if you had a 50 pound of fertilizer you would have 50#X10%=5 actual pounds of Nitrogen, 50#X10%=5 actual pounds of phosphorus, and 50#X10%=5 pounds of actual potash.

    Most growing crops need more N (nitrogen) in order to make plant growth than they do P or K. The phosphorus promotes blooming and the postash promotes root growth.

    How was the zinc and iron on the test?

    I usually opt for a 37-10-10 for my sandy soil, and apply several lighter doses during the season, the heaviest dose as a starter boost.

    The crop you intend to grow will dictate the minimum amount of fertilizer that you should be putting on your garden. "Vegetable Growers Handbook" tells the requirements for each vegetable crop. Perhaps you can get a copy to read through inter-library loan. It is a high dollar book that is often not loaned out because of the cost.

    A Scott's brand fertilizer for vegetables bag can probably give you a good idea of how much product to use as well.
     

  3. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Messages:
    19,427
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    The area you have I would put 75 pounds of the 10-10-10 on.But this Fall I would plant a Green Manure Crop,work it into your ground next Spring.Some Woodash would help too.

    big rockpile
     
  4. poppy

    poppy Guest

    Thanks for the info folks. Rockpile, that is what gets confusing. I found some 12-12-12 today. It says on the bag to apply 3 pounds per 1000 square feet. At that rate I would only use about 5 and 1/2 pounds. I think your amount sounds closer to what I need, but i don't want to burn my plants.
     
  5. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    Poppy, I am working today at my local library. We have a copy of "Knott's Vegetable Growers Handbook" which I mentioned except for the Knott's.

    If you would like for me to look up the requirements for 4 or so of your crops I can then post them here--while at work if a research computer is available, otherwise from home this evening. Pick one of the heavier feeders like sweet corn if you grow it, and some of the lighter feeders.
    ======

    On a side note when I was a wheat farmer producing crops I figured on using 40# of actual nitrogen per acre. Since I was using a 34% solution I applied approximately 115# to 120# of solution PER ACRE which is 43,560 square feet. The solution weighed about 11 pounds per gallon which meant I applied nearly 11 gallons per acre. I applied slightly heavier apps to lighter soil areas so usually hit real close to the 11 gallon mark.

    When I blended in phosphorus fertilizer and potash fertilizer the solution mix changed considerably as they were 11% instead of 34%. I also added iron and zinc which were much higher %. Because I don't know algebra formulas it got to be a real nightmare for me to determine the correct amount to apply. Thankfully even without algebra I can usually come up with the right answer.

    Soil tests usually told how much of each to apply for a 40 bushel per acre yield, and for a 60 bushel per acre yield. As corn farmers will tell you, it doesn't always pay to aim for maximum yields by adding more and more fertilizer.

    Many farmers co-ops carry generic garden fertilizer and lawn fertilizer in 50# bags. You might check prices with them if you have a co-op in your area. They usually beat the brand name big boys since they have no advertising costs to cover.
     
  6. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    Here we go, I found a fertilizer requirement chart showing pounds the PER ACRE need for various vegetable crops. Remember that the chart shows actual pounds, not percent. To find the number of pounds of a percentage fertilizer to use, divide the actual needed by the % and that will give you how many pounds of product to apply. Remember this is per acre, which has 43,560 square feet.

    http://sanangelo.tamu.edu/agronomy/soil/vegnut.htm

    Fertilizer is fertilizer folks. It doesn't matter if it is organic or chemical, you just need to find the % of actual per pound of product you have in order to figure the correct amount to apply.

    Now where did I see those charts that showed how much NPK are in various manures-----
     
  7. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
  8. bonnie lass

    bonnie lass Semper Fi

    Messages:
    194
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Location:
    Beautiful Cape Cod
    Thank you, that was eloquent.
     
  9. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    "You were, of course, specifically refering to how to measure out the appropriate amount of fertilizer to use on a given size of ground when you made that statement."

    Thank you for making it clear as to what my post intentions were.

    I generally agree with most all of what you have written. Soil tilth and general health is first and foremost in any productive garden in my opinion. While I certainly don't disagree with those that wish to grow organically and do indeed applaud their efforts, I have my own personal opinion that chemical fertilizers can be used for decades or longer (we are only decades into using them in this area, so the jury is still out) without harming the soil to the point of it becoming useless and barren. I do believe that caution must be used and kinds of chemical fertilizer use be switched from time to time, such as anhydrous/granular/liquid.

    I hope that you will agree that we can disagree and still be friends. Your post was very well written and beneficial although I have a difference of opinion on some of the matter. Thanks for calling me to task and informing us all rather than bashing as some would.
     
  10. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    273
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2004
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Windy in Kansas,


    I must admit, I believe in organic gardening almost to the point of being a zealot over the issue. I hope I did not come on too strong, but I do have strong opinions when it comes to organic gardening. I guess it shows up in my writing. (It shows up in my teaching too, if ever you were to have an opportunity to take one of my Self-Reliance: Raising Food For You and Your Family classes.)


    Interestingly enough, my conversion to organic gardening and growing food for yourself did not come out of any concern for the impact of chemicals on the soil. Nor did it come out of a concern for the use of pesticides on the environment. I have to admit, I haven't even read Rachel Carson's book on the effects of DDT and the other pesticides.


    My conversion to organic gardening and growing food for myself came as a result of two things happening: 1, my husband's diagnosis of Type II diabetes; and 2, my learning about the nutrients that were missing out of the food that we can purchase at the local grocery store.


    My husband always prefered Little Debbie snack cakes to a snack of wholesome sliced carrots, or celery, or a red, delicious apple. After his diagnosis, he had to lay off the snack cakes. Turns out that he doesn't care for the bland tasting vegetables that come out of the produce section of the grocery store, but he seems to love the flavorful produce that comes out of my raised beds.


    I took a Master Gardener's course before I ever got into gardening, and the teachers in that course were big on raised bed gardening, using compost for fertilizer, and doing other things that were borderline organic. So I never did use the chemicals in my garden, not even from the outset, though I was not a true organic grower either at that time. I just did what they told me to do back then, and as it turned out, their methods produced very tasty treats that my diabetic husband would eat without whining or complaining about.


    One might say that the reason that my veggies were more flavorful was because of the fact that they were freshly picked, and that a Miracle Grow or 10-10-10 grown veggie would also be tastier than one that was bought at the grocery store.


    And, indeed, I have tasted veggies grown with Miracle Grow, and when freshly picked, they too were flavorful. Certainly they were better tasting than the groceries bought at the supermarket.


    Yet, with some vegetables -- most notably the cole crops, strawberries, and lettuce, there seemed to be a difference in the richness of the flavor between my nearly organically grown veggies and my sister's Miracle Grow veggies.


    My diabetic husband sure seemed to be able to taste the difference. He really does seem to be able to tell when a veggie comes out of my organic garden, and when it comes out of my sister Cynthia's Miracle Grow garden.


    The richer flavor of the veggies grown in rich, raised bed soil with compost as a fertilizer made me begin to ask WHY this food tasted so much better.


    That is when a friend of mine, a home economics professor at the University of Tennessee, clued me in to the difference in nutrient levels of vegetables grown using rich soil and compost vs. vegetables grown using chemical fertilizers.


    It is unfair to claim that the difference between the taste of homegrown produce and store bought produce is solely the result of the fertilizers used to feed the plants.


    The fact is that there are other reasons for the difference in taste as well: the long distances that the food must travel before it gets to your table, for one thing, and the fact that commercial farmers often times choose vegetable varieties for commercial growing that are chosen for their ability to survive mechanical harvesting and long distance trucking. (For example, commercial growers choose to plant mostly thick skinned tomatoes because they can survive machine harvesting.... Commercial lettuce growers choose to grow iceberg lettuce because it transports better than something like romaine or buttercrunch.)


    But I swear to you, my husband Don can tell the difference between my vegetables and my sister's vegetables, and the only thing we do different is that I use my soil to feed the plants, and Cynthia uses chemical fertilizers.


    That is where the 2004 study published by the American College of Nutrition comes in: it suggests that the chemical fertilizers are just not providing the wide breath of nutrients and micro-nutrients that rich soil, compost and organic fertilizers do.


    It is very hard to get my husband to eat the veggies and fruits that he needs to eat in order to control his diabetes, and if he is more willing to eat organically grown produce, then I will grow it that way. Anything to keep him healthy.



    But please be assued, Windy, there is room for both organic growers and chemical growers in this world.


    For one thing, whereas organic growing methods are best for the family farm, IMHO, it is doubtful that these methods could feed the large numbers of people currently living on this planet. One thing chemical fertilization/insecticide spraying farmers are good at -- better at, in fact, than the organic growers -- is growing huge volumes of food on minimal acreage using the lowest number of workers in the process. Chemically fertilized, insecticide treated foods may not have as many vitamins and minerals than their organically grown counterparts, but they are the only way that you can feed all the folks currently on this planet. And lets face it, eating veggies with a lesser amount of vitamins and minerals is still better than going hungry.


    For another thing, there are lots of folks who just do not want to go through the trouble of composting, or cannot tolerate to see a single insect within 60 yards of their vegetable plot. And alot of folks use the chemicals in their garden because that is the way their parents taught them to do it.



    In my opinion, gardening with chemical fertilizers is far better than not growing a home garden at all.


    In short, yes I can respect your way of gardening, Windy, just as I respect my sister's way of doing it.


    We do not all have to garden the same way in order to enjoy the hobby and benefit from the effort.

    :)