Fertilizing made easy again?

MartyS

Seed
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I have been doing bonsai for 21 years (11 in South Florida & 10 in Northern N.J.). I currently have 11 old medium - large very fine trees ( 2 Black pines, 1 Zushio and 1 Scotts pine, 2 Gingkos, 1 Boxwood, 1 Coastal oak, 2 Junipers & 1 Azelea). I apply Biogold to all as well as Mycominerals regularly. I used to apply MiracleGro to deciduous trees and Miracid for conifers / junipers (using the MiracleGro spray bottle) about every 7-10 days from May to end of September +/-. Trees did well and I did this for 19 years but 2 years ago, switched over to just Miracid (local water is alkaline) and trees continued to do well. Two years ago, I also began "precise" hand watering with a can ( 2 tablespoons Miracid / 2 gallon can with 2 tsp. of Superthrive ( I know it's smoke & mirrors but been doing it for years). I now feel that hand watering is a P.I.A., takes too long and gives me no pleasure!
I want to go back to fast application of Miracid with the spray feeder but re-thinking this, the proper amount is 1 tablespoon / gallon (by hand). Anyone who has used this feeder always sees bluish water at first then pretty clear water. I used to shake the container while spraying, in order to see bluish water, confirming fertilization but now realize that was probably resulting in too much applied. I will now probably use 1/2 of the 1.5 pound bag in the feeder for the 11 trees (MiracleGro said NOT to leave unused fertilizer in the bottle for the next application).
The specific question is does anyone do this and if I don't shake the bottle, is the fertilizer still being applied when the stream is clear?
 

sparklemotion

Shohin
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Can you clarify which "spray feeder" you want to use? It is something like this one?

If so, I feel reasonably confident in stating that less fertilizer is being applied when the stream is clear than when the stream is blue. :cool:
 

MartyS

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I see no image here....however it is the MiracleGro brand spray chamber device with a green screw on top sold at Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.
Ordinarily, you empty an entire 1.5 pound bag. Since the chamber doesn't know what is inside, I figured I would only use 1/2 bag at a time. Supposedly, it takes 15-20 minutes to use a complete bag -- I guess I could experiment on some outdoor hedges and see if it uses the whole bag in 20 minutes without me shaking the bottle.
 

sparklemotion

Shohin
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Ok.

As far as I can figure out, the MG feeder works by dissolving the granules in the stream from the hose. At least one source says that the feeder is built to dispense 4 gallons of solution per minute, and that 1lb of product should result in 40 gallons of solution (for 1.5lbs: 60 gallons, 15 minutes). That would be the equivalent to the labeled 1 tbsp/gallon amount. The problem is that the concentration level isn't consistent over a given use, and in order to make sure that you apply all 1.5lbs, you need to shake the bottle to keep the last of the product in solution.

What I would do, if I wanted to use half a bag per application is:
1. verify that my hose/sprayer combination is in fact outputting 4 gallons/minute (mark a line in a 5 gallon bucket, fill up for one minute).
2. Fill with half a bag, and apply, shaking periodically for about 7.5 minutes. If you pour for longer than that, you're diluting the solution (and lowering your overall fertilization rate). If you stop pouring as soon as you no longer see blue water, you're applying a stronger solution than you would expect, because the clear water at the end of the time window is calculated as part of the overall solution that is added to the soil.
 

MartyS

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Ok.

As far as I can figure out, the MG feeder works by dissolving the granules in the stream from the hose. At least one source says that the feeder is built to dispense 4 gallons of solution per minute, and that 1lb of product should result in 40 gallons of solution (for 1.5lbs: 60 gallons, 15 minutes). That would be the equivalent to the labeled 1 tbsp/gallon amount. The problem is that the concentration level isn't consistent over a given use, and in order to make sure that you apply all 1.5lbs, you need to shake the bottle to keep the last of the product in solution.

What I would do, if I wanted to use half a bag per application is:
1. verify that my hose/sprayer combination is in fact outputting 4 gallons/minute (mark a line in a 5 gallon bucket, fill up for one minute).
2. Fill with half a bag, and apply, shaking periodically for about 7.5 minutes. If you pour for longer than that, you're diluting the solution (and lowering your overall fertilization rate). If you stop pouring as soon as you no longer see blue water, you're applying a stronger solution than you would expect, because the clear water at the end of the time window is calculated as part of the overall solution that is added to the soil.
Many thanks for the info....sounds good.
 

Cofga

Chumono
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To be sure I avoid these hose end sprayers and just dissolve the fert powder in water in a watering can then apply by hand. The water stays blue the whole time.
 

Cofga

Chumono
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My opinion is these hose end sprayers that use solid fert don’t work worth a hoot. You end up dissolving a lot at first then you end up with a more dilute solution later until you have used it all, thus no blue color, and you are spraying plain water. It is hard to know how much fertilizer each plant actually gets. The best system of this type uses a liquid concentrate and injects it into the hose as you water. They use large enough containters so as not to exhaust all the concentrate before finishing. This is the way many commercial nurseries do it. Of course many just toss a handful of timed release Osmocote into each pot and figure they’ll sell the plant before it all gets used up. If you are using a mainly inorganic soil mix most of what you apply just flows through anyway and the roots only get a small amount. When I apply by hand with a watering can I alsways do it after the plants have been watered. That way you displace basically plain water using the fertilizer mix instead of vice versa.
 

Saddler

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You could use this sprayer https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/chapin-all-purpose-16-dial-hose-end-sprayer-with-metering-dial-0591114p.html

It has a fine enough resolution in the amount of fertilizer that I could probably just use this to water my trees. Instead I use a watering wand and then give them a spray with this every day using the small hole and number 3 but will probably go to number 4 in a week or so and go to 5 in another month if the tree like it. I used it all last summer and have never had those results before. So easy and so much growth.
 

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