One look at the plant food section of your local nursery or retail store can make a person literally dizzy. There are so many different a la carte nutrients that sometimes, it is hard to understand what they are all for. Today I am going to discuss a few of those products along with some possible uses.
The first item on my list is bone meal. Bone meal is made by steaming crushed bones for 1.5 hours at 260 degrees. Bone meal is an excellent source of phosphorous and calcium and also can provide some other trace minerals including nitrogen to your plants.
Because the nutrients are released so slowly, the product is excellent for use on new plantings as well as bulbs. Bone meal is an excellent product to use on rose bushes. The product is also excellent for using on new transplants to help avoid plant shock. Bone meal also helps plants to maintain and develop healthy root systems.
Blood meal is another product that is available at most nursery retailers, although many people do not know how well this product can work.
Blood meal is actually made from the blood collected from animal processing plants. This collected blood is stored in cooled vats that use an agitator to keep the whole blood from coagulating. It is then sent to drying plants, where the product is spray dried. Once dried, the product is packaged in bulk 50-pound bags and sent to various distributors where it is packaged for the consumer.
Blood meal is an excellent source of rapid release nitrogen. This product can be used on all plants and is especially useful for plants that are heavy feeders. It is a great product for instances when you want fast greening or to give your plants an energy boost. If you grow lettuce in your vegetable garden, it is especially useful for helping to grow your dream salad.
Apply the product on top of the soil and water it in or mix it with water and use it like a liquid fertilizer.
In some lawn and garden supply stores, you can purchase bulk quantities if you want to use it on your lawn as a quick boost.
Lime is another useful product for your garden and is very widely available.
The active ingredient in lime is calcium. Lime is an excellent product to use if you have a vegetable garden. Since the vast majority of Florida's soil is acidic, vegetable gardens can benefit from lime, because most veggies require a lower ph level in the soil for optimum growth. It can also help provide sweeter veggies.
Lime can also be useful for your lawn, but it would be a good idea to test the ph of your soil first to determine if is actually needed.
Occasionally, you may encounter yellowing of certain plants, such as hibiscus, ixoria and gardenias just to name a few. This yellowing is often caused by an iron deficiency in the soil. Adding an iron supplement, in either granular or liquid form, will often reverse this yellowing trend and get your plants back to their original lush green color.
Iron can also be used to help promote a lush green lawn that you can brag about. Most, but not all, lawn fertilizers contain a percentage of iron.
Sometimes, if this percentage is too small, an iron deficiency can still develop. You can buy iron at many nursery retailers in different size packages, as well as in different forms. Iron comes packaged in liquid and granular form.
As you can see, there are plenty of additives you can experiment with besides just your basic fertilizers. All are safe if used according to package directions.
You never know, you just might come up with that record-setting tomato or lettuce plant.
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.