I am a member of the Wharton Garden Club – have been since we moved here in 2004. It is a group of men and women that are interested in growing all sorts of plants – every day annuals to orchids and plumerias to cacti and succulents to grass and trees to all sorts of edibles. We are a very diverse group. The clubs’ program director chooses a variety of speakers through out the year with the hope that she manages to hit on topics that are interesting to everyone. I’ve had that job. It’s tough.
Today, she hit the nail on the head with a speaker whose topic was about the fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides we all use. How to save money. What to look for in the ingredients. How to make your own. It was a very good program.
So, I thought I’d share a few things I learned:
First of all – you should know about your soil. No need to waste money and time amending your soil with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, etc if you don’t need it.
Fertilizers all have three numbers prominently listed on the package. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (N,P,K). Which means, if you purchase a 50-pound bag of 10-10-10, you will have five pounds of nitrogen, five pounds of phosphorus, and five pounds of potassium. The remaining 70% is simply filler. So you want the nitrogen. The other two? Well maybe, maybe not. Something to think about.
Homemade fertilizer: Add 1 cup of household ammonia (nitrogen) and ½ cup liquid dish soap to a gallon of water.
Next -- Read the label. I do this. Not that’s it’s been particularly helpful since I am not a chemist and have had no idea what any anything listed is. These are some of the things to look for -
Bifenthrin is an insecticide. It interferes with the nervous system of insects when they eat or touch it. It’s found in a number of products which gives you the ability to price shop.
Imidacloprid is a systemic pesticide. Which means that it is absorbed by the plant root and moves up into the stems, leaves, flowers and fruit. And, while it is good at killing many noxious insects, it will also kill bees collecting pollen or butterflies that drink the flower nectar.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide. It is applied to the leaves of plants to kill both broadleaf plants and grasses. There are over 750 products containing glyphosate. Price shop.
Triclopyr is used for the control of undesirable woody and herbaceous weeds. It is used on rights-of-way, pastures, rangelands, forests, turf, and residential lawns. It’s good for all those pesky trash, bird-or-squirrel-planted, trees.