fertilizing bulbs

Merrill Jensen merrill@gamblegarden.org
Thu, 07 Apr 2005 14:53:10 PDT
Hey everybody,

Ken has hit the nail on the head with "ones size fits all" does not apply to
all cases or regions.  That is where the beauty of "Observe, Deduce, Apply"
comes in.  If you are paying attention to the volumes of information that
our plants are telling us, and taking that information along with all that
we have picked up with years of growing, you will easily see what will work
in your particular instance.  That is why I take cultural information as a
guideline and adapt it to the local growing conditions (soil type, pH,
exposure, water quality...) to give the 'kids' the best chance to grow and
give us pleasure.  Sometimes it is impossible to meet the cultural
conditions due to environmental constraints (like trying to grow Meconopsis
in the Desert SW), so we move on to a plant pallet that will be more
conducive to where we hang our hat.
For ODA to truly work (and it does in numerous endeavors) one must have a
sense of place that comes with time.  If you are short on time, track down
the locals that have had time to observe and quiz them relentlessly to find
what you are looking for.  We garden for a reason, and vast volumes have
been published with 'how to' information.  But if you are not getting your
fingers dirty, all that knowledge for naught...

Palo Alto, CA   zone 9/10, where the learning curve is going straight up...

-----Original Message-----
From: pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org]
On Behalf Of Kenneth Hixson
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2005 1:11 PM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: RE: [pbs] fertilizing bulbs

Hi, members
         Fertilizing any plant is a complicated matter--your soil, its pH,
what minerals are present, the mineral needs of the particular plant you
are growing, moisture levels in the soil,  temperature,  the stage of growth
of the plant, etc. all interacting.

>   No foliage, no fertilizer.  I have applied any good organic
>fertilizer just when the new leaves start to nose out of the ground.

         If what you are doing works, continue.  But remember when
fertilizing bulbs, you are feeding the bulb, and the effect will be shown
in next year's plant, with only minor effects on this year's plant.  All
the minerals for this year's plant are already in the bulb.  There are
numerous studies of which minerals are taken up by bulbs, and at
what times.  It is very easy to be mislead, because the mineral levels
in the upper leaves of an easter lily for instance, will be different than
the mineral levels in the lower, older leaves on the same stems.  And,
as the season draws to a close, minerals are translocated out of the
leaves down to the bulb. An excess of one mineral may cause another
needed mineral to become unavailable, and this can change with the pH.
         Different species or hybrids, even in the genus Lilium for
use minerals at different times, and "one size fits all" does not apply.
Species which grow their roots at a different season than their foliage,
have nutrient needs at a time you may not expect.
         When using organic fertilizers, it should be remembered that
their nutrient content is released more slowly, as the fertilizer is
decomposed by soil microorganisms, so applying the fertilizer needs
to be done far enough in advance that the decomposition can be
accomplished before the minerals are needed by the plant.....then you
need to be sure it won't be taken up by some other plant or otherwise
tied up, before the targeted plant can use it.
         What I'm really saying is, I can tell you what works for me, but
it may not work for you, growing the same plant under other conditions,
and you may be just polluting the ground to apply a fertilizer when the
plant can't use it.  Comments from elsewhere need to be regarded as
a guide, not a "cookbook" that can be blindly followed.


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