Sprinkle Miracle Gro instead of mixing

Joe Dupre'

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Strange idea .....maybe. I normally fertilize ala Walter Pall about every 2 weeks with Miracle Gro at about double strength. It's worked fantastically for 6 years. BUT...... with 70 trees. this entails mixing 5 or so 2-gallon watering cans of mixture. I had the idea that, since Miracle Gro is water soluble, if I just sprinkled the proper amount on each tree and then watered them normally, it might amount to the same thing. Not a big time savings but would make fertilizing just a bit easier.
 

Joelshack2362

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I have been doing this the past few years as well. I “assumed” with the right amount of watering in that you’ll get the same results as mixing in the water. Hopefully someone with more knowledge will correct if not right.
 

Kanorin

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Is it really a time saver? 70 sprinklings of fertilizer seems like a lot of time too.
 

rockm

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Hardly a strange idea. Crosses the minds of most. I wouldn't do it. You risk salt "burn" on top roots and destruction of myc etc. You don't know how much is being delivered--is it all at once when it rains or when the dew sets up, or is it when you water. Did it rain hard enough to wash it into the soil?...Too many variables that can just be eliminated simply by following the directions...
 

penumbra

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Hardly a strange idea. Crosses the minds of most. I wouldn't do it. You risk salt "burn" on top roots and destruction of myc etc. You don't know how much is being delivered--is it all at once when it rains or when the dew sets up, or is it when you water. Did it rain hard enough to wash it into the soil?...Too many variables that can just be eliminated simply by following the directions...
Ditto^^^
I would not even consider it................
and I consider a lot of things people frown upon.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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I have done this with mixed results. If you miss the salts with the water spray and wet everything around it.. It's game over.
That's why I use organic crap for sprinkles. Way less risky.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Nutri-Cote and Osmo-Cote type products are fertilizer in coated time / temperature release pellets or beads that release a little fertilizer with every watering. Both recommend applying some quantity based on pot size (volume) and replenishing the pellets every 60 days in warm weather 90 to 120 days in cool weather. This is MUCH MORE CONTROLED than just sprinkling soluble fertilizer on top of your media. I

1. Water soluble fertilizers dissolved into your irrigation water give you the greatest control over your fertilization program. You can know with certainty the parts per million or mg /liter dose rate of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (K) if you choose to do the maths.

2. second best is the time release fertilizer pellets such as Nutri-Cote and Osmo-Cote type products. These are pretty good. Except one must keep in mind that release rate is governed by temperature. In cold weather they will not make enough of their nutrients available for cold weather growing species, like spruce and firs. In hot weather, especially when we have temps above 100 F or 40 C they will tend to dump much of their contents very quickly. This can be a problem in hot summers. If you put these pelletized fertilizers in mesh bags, and place the bags on the soil, then it is easy to remove the fertilizer during excessive heat waves. This takes care of the problem of temperature release of the fertilizer.

3. the all organics - these are good, it is difficult to get enough nitrogen from "all organic" fertilization, but you can get nice healthy short internode growth, this is good for bonsai, but won't win the "biggest pumpkin or beefsteak tomato" contest. Upside, fertilizer burn is unlikely, even with fairly heavy organic fertilization. Downside, most organic fertilizers leave behind fine particle waste. This fibrous material eventually "plugs up" drainage. Heavy organic fertilization can force you into having to repot a tree sooner than you might want to. putting cake type fertilizers into mesh bags does trap much of this waste, but not all. Also having the fertilizer in bags allows one control, you can put on more or take all the fertilizer away simply by adding or removing bags. In Japan pines and many conifers are potted in nearly all mineral potting mixes, pumice and such. These organic fertilizers become the source of soil organics that feed the mycorrhizae and create a healthy soil microbiome. Myself, I have been transitioning to more and more organic, though I do sell chemical fertilizers to the orchid community, and do cross over a little into the bonsai community with my chemical fertilizer sales. Rape seed cake, sugar cane bagasse, cottonseed meal and other seed meals are typical organic pellet or cake fertilizers. Composted manures can be used, composting is important because fresh manures can be high in salts and attract animals that dig, racoons, skunks, an other destructive vermin. Actually skunks are likely after earthworms and beetle larvae, both of which can be found in manures that are in various stages of composting. I like liquid fertilizers, because I created a set up for easy dosing and easy control of dose rate. Its not an "easily transferable" set up, unique to my house, so I won't go into detail. But for liquid applications I like Fish Lysate by Dramm (as superior to Fish Emulsion) and any of the various Kelp Extracts.

4. As aptly described by @rockm , just sprinkling soluble fertilizer on top of the potting media is a really, really bad idea. Sure, one can get lucky. Might even get lucky for quite a number of plants for a number of years, but it can go oh so wrong. Its no big deal to loose a juniper in a nursery pot you bought 3 months ago. It is another matter to loose a juniper you might have been nursing for 40 years in your care. Just sprinkling soluble s**t on top of your soil you will never get to the point where you can point to a tree you have been caring for, for over a decade or two. Respect the time you have put into your projects. Respect the time you WILL in the FUTURE be putting into your projects.
 

Joe Dupre'

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I probably won't go this route. May be just a wild notion brought on by the second glass of scotch. :D
 

andrewiles

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Agree with @Leo in N E Illinois et. al. on this one. Would be a dangerous game to apply concentrated fertilizer directly to the soil.

FWIW I was getting tied of fertilizing as well. The slow release pellets have their own challenges since it's hard to know when they are fully expired. It's not cheap, but this year I set up an injector and so far I love it. Might be worth looking at. While I primarily use a timed watering system you can also hook up a hose at the output and use the injector's enable/disable switch every 2 weeks to move between plain water to fertilized water for manual watering (just have to flush out the contents of the hose after the switch). It's really convenient. And if you get an injector with a high ratio you just need to mix your batch of injectable solution a few times a season, if that.

As a bonus you can also use the same system to adjust pH.

Example of my setup. Still an experiment. Injector pulls from the tub at left at 500:1, which has Miracle Gro and citric acid. Output goes to both automated watering system and manual hoses.

PXL_20220803_223509606.jpg
 

penumbra

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Agree with @Leo in N E Illinois et. al. on this one. Would be a dangerous game to apply concentrated fertilizer directly to the soil.

FWIW I was getting tied of fertilizing as well. The slow release pellets have their own challenges since it's hard to know when they are fully expired. It's not cheap, but this year I set up an injector and so far I love it. Might be worth looking at. While I primarily use a timed watering system you can also hook up a hose at the output and use the injector's enable/disable switch every 2 weeks to move between plain water to fertilized water for manual watering (just have to flush out the contents of the hose after the switch). It's really convenient. And if you get an injector with a high ratio you just need to mix your batch of injectable solution a few times a season, if that.

As a bonus you can also use the same system to adjust pH.

Example of my setup. Still an experiment. Injector pulls from the tub at left at 500:1, which has Miracle Gro and citric acid. Output goes to both automated watering system and manual hoses.

View attachment 449985
Good looking system
I have three zones in different areas so this would not be practical for me. I foliar feed my plants every week in spring and every other week in mid Summer.
 

Paradox

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Hardly a strange idea. Crosses the minds of most. I wouldn't do it. You risk salt "burn" on top roots and destruction of myc etc. You don't know how much is being delivered--is it all at once when it rains or when the dew sets up, or is it when you water. Did it rain hard enough to wash it into the soil?...Too many variables that can just be eliminated simply by following the directions...

For the reasons stated in the quote, I wouldn't do it.
 

Scarlet Ibis

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Agree with @Leo in N E Illinois et. al. on this one. Would be a dangerous game to apply concentrated fertilizer directly to the soil.

FWIW I was getting tied of fertilizing as well. The slow release pellets have their own challenges since it's hard to know when they are fully expired. It's not cheap, but this year I set up an injector and so far I love it. Might be worth looking at. While I primarily use a timed watering system you can also hook up a hose at the output and use the injector's enable/disable switch every 2 weeks to move between plain water to fertilized water for manual watering (just have to flush out the contents of the hose after the switch). It's really convenient. And if you get an injector with a high ratio you just need to mix your batch of injectable solution a few times a season, if that.

As a bonus you can also use the same system to adjust pH.

Example of my setup. Still an experiment. Injector pulls from the tub at left at 500:1, which has Miracle Gro and citric acid. Output goes to both automated watering system and manual hoses.

View attachment 449985
Andrew, that setup looks awesome. I don't want to hijack this thread but would love more info on your system.
Cheers, Steve
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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What I actually do:

I have a 55 gallon drum in the basement. Top has been cut off so it is open on top. Using hoses, including a "T" that allows me to run hot and cold water into the drum, I can fill the drum with water. The hoses are simple hoses of type used to connect laundry wash machines to the water supply for the basement wash tubs. This feature is not usually found in apartments. You got to have an old home with a basement. There is a concrete floor with a floor drain to the sewer if there is an overflow. The floor drain is only a few inches away from the 55 gallon drum. The occasional "overflow" is inevitable, no matter how diligent you are. I absconded from work a 3/4 horsepower centrifugal pump. This would have been prohibitively expensive if I had to purchase the pump. The model I have is much larger than needed. You could get away with a much smaller lower pressure pump. The intake hose is short, from the inside bottom of the 55 gallon drum, to the inlet to the pump. The outlet is 50 foot garden hose with a brass shut off at the end. When not in use, and preparing for use, the 50 foot of outlet garden hose is coiled up in the basement, while still connected to the pump.

Fill barrel with water. Hang outlet of garden hose into drum, prime pump if needed (whether you need to prime the pump depends on centrifugal, centripetal or impeller driven pump) This begins to recirculate the water in the drum. The pump should be powerful enough you can see ripples on the surface of the water. Add sufficient fertilizer to dose the water to your desired ppm as Nitrogen, or if you prefer use Total Dissolved Solids as your key parameter. I like to dose based on nitrogen levels, 40 ppm in cool weather 120 ppm in May-June peak growing weather. You need to make the calculations yourself from the brand of fertilizer you are using, because those numbers on the bottle do matter. A 30-10-10 will be dosed quite differently than a 12-1-4 . I use a 12-1-4 most of the time and my dose ranges from 1/4 teaspoon/ gallon to 1 teaspoon per gallon. There are times you might want to go heavier or lighter depending on your frequency of fertilization and the main species you are targeting. Typically I do low concentrations, 1/4 teaspoon per gallon, more frequently, weekly or even more frequent, versus higher concentrations, less frequent.

When thoroughly mix, using the brass shut off at the end of the hose, I stop the flow, attach the watering wand with a Dramm water breaker rose (nice 1000 hole rose, gives a soft spray) I drag the hose up the stairs. Drag, because it is full of water, and somewhat heavy, then I begin watering my bonsai, which are all within about 30 feet of the back door of my house. I can simply add another length of hose to water further away.

This is where a centrifugal pump is superior to a less expensive diaphragm pump. You can use a valve to start, stop or throttle back the flow of a centrifugal pump without damage to the pump. The centrifugal pump works with vanes on a spinning disc moving the water in a chamber. If flow is restricted or blocked the disc with its vanes still has enough clearance with the pump head housing to keep spinning even though the water can't move.

A diaphragm pump if throttled back or flow stopped without turning off the pump will burn out rapidly. The diaphragm pump has a flexible flap that more or less completely seals against the pump head housing, as the shaft turns the flap moves a quantity of water from the inlet to the outlet. If there is back pressure, there is no room for the flap or diaphragm to keep moving, the shaft of the motor must stop, causing the motor rotor coils to overheat. Diaphragm pumps can not tolerate back pressure..

There are other types of pumps, you need to investigate before purchasing. Key to check is how the pumps tolerate back pressure if you were to restrict flow while watering your trees. Centrifugal pumps are great in this aspect, but they tend to be quite expensive. Swimming pool filter pumps tend to be centrifugal pumps, you might be able to find a used pool pump on Craig's list.

They beauty of my system is my dilution is to the final dose rate. Right there in the 55 gallon barrel. If you have the room to set up a similar system.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I have heard many use sump pumps for their pumps. I have not checked these out at all. Anyone with experience can report on how sump pumps work? What types of pump are they? and how they respond to being throttled back and or have flow stopped by a valve at the watering wand?
 

waydeo

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Try looking at aquarium pumps. Most are submersible and some can be electronically speed controlled or throttled with valves. Just be sure and check head pressure depending on setup/distance and valving.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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The pump I use pumps 15 gallons per minute with the garden hose as outlet. You really have to hang on to the hose or it whips around the room. If it were plumbed with larger diameter pipe it could move triple the volume. The pump is over-powered for what I'm using it for, but I got the pump for free. It was returned from one of our customers. We couldn't find anything wrong with it, so it got repurposed.
 
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