Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fertilizer Choices! Natural is Best!

Following is a quick outline of some of the basic fertilizers we sell and how these fertilizers will work to improve your soil and ultimately your plant's performance.

Now is a great time to fertilize your trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns. When these plants “awaken” from their winter slumber, they are starving for nutrients. What do you use for fertilizing? We at Skillin’s pride ourselves on our wide selection. And different situations do call for different remedies. However, we have 2 types of fertilizers that we recommend frequently for situations which are not dire, but when a seasonal supply of nutrients is in order. It is important to note that your soil should be tested once per year for pH and nutrients. (We sell easy to use and inexpensive soil test kits here at Skillin’s). These “once a year” soil tests will provide a good barometer over time of the needs of your soil.

The first types of fertilizers are of an all purpose nature and we offer many outstanding choices here at Skillin’s. Our old standby is called Pro-Gro. It is a totally natural fertilizer (manufactured by North Country Organics in Vermont) and is a wonderful food for all-purpose situations. For many years I have used Pro-Gro twice yearly on my deciduous shrubs and trees, and perennials. A natural fertilizer like Pro-Gro BETTERS YOUR SOIL. A better quality soil results in deeper root growth for your plants. Deeper root growth means larger plants and also plants and lawns that can better withstand cold winters and dry summers as plants thrive best in soil that is well draining and rich in organic matter. There is some immediate nutrient flow to the plant but the effects of using a fertilizer like Pro-Gro twice a year are of a long-term nature. The benefit takes a little time to show but your plants will be healthier and happier for a long period of time. In recent years, Espoma has very much improved their Plant Tone formulation by adding natural microbes and many people like that fertilizer. Organica produces Plant Booster Plus which I used for the first time in 2008 and I was very pleased with the results. Plant Booster Plus contains patented soil microbes and is I think a cutting edge product by a cutting edge company. All of these fertilizers are good steady soil additives but the microbial emphasis in Plant Booster Plus made it my choice in 2008 and I will probably use it again this year although for all purpose use, you cannot go wrong with Pro Gro, Plant Tone or Plant Booster Plus.

The second fertilizer is called Holly-Tone. Holly-Tone is also a natural fertilizer (manufactured by the Espoma Corporation) but is geared toward acid loving plant material (such as evergreens—pine, fir, spruce, rhodys, azaleas, and hollies are common examples). The same long-term attributes that apply to Pro-Gro also apply to Holly Tone.
Again we generally recommend two applications per year. However, it is important that your garden and lawn soil should be given a soil test annually.

What to feed the lawn? I am a firm believer in the all natural Organica Four Step Lawn Program that we highlight by clicking Organica's All Natural Four Step Lawn Program at the Skillin’s Garden Log. Organica's Four Step Program Lawn Program is a back to basics approach to plant management designed to revitalize soil biology and provide a foundation for healthy turf growth. The establishment of beneficial microbial populations is the key to creating a healthy soil environment. Organica's "Natural Lawn Program" is designed to reestablish beneficial microbial populations and provide the soil with the necessary components to promote healthy controlled growth and reduce plant stress. Your lawn will thank you and thank you!

How about vegetable gardens? Any of the all purpose choices will work although I find that Espoma's Garden Tone is high in calcium which is essential for good tomato growth!

As always if you have any questions or need any advice please contact us at any Skillin’s location or email us at!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
April 15, 2009

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