Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Synthetic vs. Organic Fertilizers

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Have you taken a look at the annuals in the Enabling Garden raised beds?  They are growing like crazy!  Last season, a good friend of the Arboretum ran across an organic rose fertilizer that was working wonders at the Deluth (Minnesota) Rose Garden.  We thought why not give it a try in our Rose Garden and annual beds?

The fertilizer is equal parts alfalfa meal, blood meal, fish meal and soybean meal.  We bought 50# bags of each at Waterloo Mills Company and dumped them on the Head House floor to better mix.  With our wholesale prices, we were able to get all under $70.00!  200 pounds will likely last us 2 full seasons.

Over the summer, I have spread the fertilizer in both the Rose Garden and Enabling Garden twice.  I’m not sure if I can tell a real difference in the Rose Garden, but I definitely can in the Enabling Garden!

What are the advantages of using organic fertilizer versus synthetic fertilizer?

Synthetic fertilizers feed (has more soluble nitrates that the plant and immediately uptake) the plant itself while the organic fertilizer feeds the soil which in return feeds the plant.  Feeding the plant directly with synthetic fertilizer gives you quick, lush growth …. but the downside is that it also attracts many pests (like aphids, thrips, etc.) that are also attracted to the nitrogen and new growth.  Feeding the soil which then in return feeds the plant, gives you healthy soil and a healthy plant …. but at a slower rate. 

Both types of fertilizers have their uses.  But I think I’ll stick with the organic fertilizer and remember the age old adage “slow and steady wins the race.”

See you in the gardens.


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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