Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Archive for the Fertilizer Category

Trace Mineral Fertilizers – How Many Nutrients Do Plants Need?

I just replied to a comment in my Fish Fertilizer Post which said, “It’s surprising the article makes no mention of the full spectrum of minerals present in sea food, and therefore the fertilizer. Sea water is known to have an astounding 82 elements (don’t have the link, please Google it) The only thing that prevents us from using sea water as fertilizer is the high sodium content. Fish do the wonderful job of filtering out that excess sodium and leaving you with extremely mineral rich organic matter ! “.

A couple of weeks ago at the Guelph Organic Conference, one of the salespeople selling an Australian sea salt extract, claimed that his product contained 99 nutrients that plants need.

I found the following claim on a company website; “Azomite – Organic Trace Mineral Powder – 67 Essential Minerals for You and Your Garden”. Azomite is a brand name product made from “special” rock dust.

Why does fertilizer only show three nutrient numbers, NPK, when plants need either 67, 82 or 99 nutrients? Inquisitive gardeners want to know.

Periodic Table of Elements

Periodic Table of Elements

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Salts Don’t Kill Plants or Microbes

The idea that salts kill plants and microbes seems very prevalent, especially among organic growers. The topic is poorly understood and leads to a number of statements that are either false or mostly false.

“Fertilizer kills plants because it is a salt”

“Farmer fields are devoid of microbes because of the salt in fertilizer”

“The NPK in manufactured fertilizer is made soluble by chemically attaching the NPK to salts”

“They [fertilizers] also make it easier for the chemicals to run off into waterways”

“Organic sources contain fewer salts”

“Organic sources are slow release”

“Fertilizers are designed to be highly soluble”

It’s time for a chemistry lesson to better understand salts, ions and the difference between synthetic and organic fertilizer.

Salts Don't Kill Plants

Salts Don’t Kill Plants

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Dynamic Accumulators – Are They Beneficial to the Garden?

Dynamic accumulators are plants that accumulate higher than average nutrients in their leaves. Some people grow these plants and then either mulch with them or compost them so that these extra nutrients are made available to other plants. This is particularly popular in permaculture circles, but it is also used a lot in organic gardening.

On the surface this sounds like a great idea. Use plants to fertilize your other plants. How can you get more organic than this.

In this post I will look at the pros and cons of using dynamic accumulators to try and understand how beneficial they are to gardens.  In the process I’ll also uncover some myths about dynamic accumulators.

Dynamic accumulators - Is it worth growing them?

Dynamic accumulators – Is it worth growing them?

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Comfrey – Is it a Dynamic Accumulator?

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is probably the most popular dynamic accumulator. Permaculturists swear by it, and organic gardeners use it frequently. Thousands of web sites make all kinds of claims for it and if you believe the claims everyone should be growing comfrey to add nutrients to compost, mulch soil, and make plants grow better.

All of these benefits are derived from the fact that comfrey is one of the best dynamic accumulators – or so people claim. It is time to have a closer look at this miracle worker.

Comfrey dynamic accumulator

Comfrey – Is it a Dynamic Accumulator?

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Dynamic Accumulators – Do They Exist?

Dynamic accumulators, like comfrey, have become a hot topic. These plants are reported to have extraordinary powers to absorb more minerals than the average plant. This makes them very useful if you are trying to make nutrient dense compost for your garden.

Imagine how great it would be if you could grow a plant that increases the nutrients you are lacking in the garden. That is precisely what people are doing with dynamic accumulator plants – or at least that is what is being claimed.

In this post I will examine the idea of accumulator plants and try to figure out what they are. Do they exist? In a future post I’ll ask the question, how can they be used in the garden? Do they add any real value?

Do dynamic accumulators exist?

Do dynamic accumulators exist?

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