Best Type of Fertiliser for Japanese Maples

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Keeb's, Jul 10, 2005.

  1. Keeb's

    Keeb's Active Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I was wondering, what is the best fertiliser to use at the end of winter just prior to the new spring growth? I was thinking I would use cow manure as I will be using that for my roses anyway. What is the general consensus? Is there a better fertiliser? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi,

    I'm sure you're going to get a wide variety of answers as every one has their own fert regimen. You could use cow manure, but if you do use it, or any type of manure be it chicken or cow, make sure it is well composted. If it still smells like, erm, cow then it's still not composted enough and may be too "hot" to apply. You could make a tea from it and apply it as a diluted liquid fert. When it is well composted it shouldn't smell like cow. In Los Angeles every year the landscape maintenance crews dump fresh cow manure on the lawns around apartment buildings. The whole neighborhood smells like a farm.

    Last year I was using Tillies fish fert 0-10-10 mixed with Growmore kelp extract. The maples and other plants did well on it. The one thing I like about Tillies is it's made from organically farm raised tilapia fish and algae. It's some what expensive, but I thought I'd give it a try.

    This year I'm using Peaceful Valley's Omega 1-5-5. It's made from soy protein, casein, fish meal, rock phosphate, bone meal, and potassium rock. I mix in kelp extract with that. I'm using this mix on every thing I have (maples, azeleas, juniper, cryptomeria, cacti & succulents), except the kitty grass, kitty nip, green onions, and tomato. For those plants I'm using Alaska fish emulsion 5-1-1 w/ kelp. Fish ferts are great for herbaceous plants. My tomato was looking pretty haggered when I rescued it. The new growth it's putting out since I got it is looking great.

    For my maples especially I'm staying away from too much nitro. Just a bit of nitro, like 1-5-5 plus adequate light will give maples more compact, natural growth.

    My two cents,

    Layne

    ps, usual disclaimers apply.
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Fertilizers should be chosen in relation to the makeup of the soil or medium they are being applied to. Sampling soils and having them tested by a soils lab is one way to get an idea what, if any nutrients should be applied, and in what amounts. Although not flawless, this approach is certainly better than just assuming what worked for somebody else, with their own soil, irrigation water, perhaps other pertinent variables will work for you.
     
  4. Keeb's

    Keeb's Active Member

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    Thanks for the advice every bit helps.

    Does Cow manure contain Nitrogen?

    What is the numbering system used for fertilisers and what do each number represent?

    What effect do each of the elements have on plants?

    I guess I am asking for is an idiots guide to fertilisers!

    Thanks in advance
     
  5. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi,

    Ron B does have a point. I should've stated that all my maples are in containers.

    Layne
     
  6. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Keebs,

    Try this website for basic fert info:

    http://www.gardeners.com/gardening/content.asp?copy_id=5161

    Regarding whether cow manure has lots or little nitrogen...it all depends. A lot depends on what the cows were fed. This reminds of when there was a big controversy in the late 70s or so in Hawaii regarding dairy cows. Seems dairy farmers were feeding their cows pineapple clippings and such from the local pineapple company as a cheap source of feed. The pineapple company had been spraying the pineapple with heptaclor insecticide...which was showing up in the local milk supply and certain artesian wells...

    Layne
     
  7. mjh1676

    mjh1676 Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Keebs,

    I have been struggling with whether or not to chime in on this thread, but I can't help myself so......

    I have not had great luck with spring fertilization of my potted plants and I suspect that while we often run to get nitrogen into the soil in the spring, it may not be so important with maples.

    I have tried 5-1-1 fish emulsion in the spring for the last two years and I have usually waited unitil the first leaves are nearing maturing as I know the roots are then approaching readines for nutriets. Soil temps can still be low at this time and the plant is relying on stored energy, so I am in no hurry to throw nitrogen into the soil and damage the roots.

    With the fish emulsion, I have seen little results. What I see is that I get consistent spring growth regardless of fertilization, but I see some stagnation later in the year. What I am believing to be more important in the fall and spring is the P-K component for root health and bud set and then when summer begins to approach, we consdier something like Layne is doing--very small amounts of fertilizer for potted plants on a regular basis--very dilute with a good complex of micronutrients.

    I have used slow-release osmocote and multicote products in my pots and with the intense heat we have here, I have had little success and far too much foliar damage.

    I have gone back to using supertrive in potted waterings and periodic dilute liquid 0-10-10 and mabye some Vitamin B1, but established mature plants in good health will not need this specific care. To get nitrogen into the pots, something like 2-4-3 would be great, but I have not identified the product yet that will go into the waterings--the kelp extract that Layne uses has been hard for me to locate and will still need some additional nitrogen at some point.

    The other issue I suspect I am facing it that the bagged bark I am adding to my pots is not well aged or aged at all, and at somepoint, there is a nitrogen deficit occurring. So when we consider the medium we are planting in for pots, there may be need to account for these sorts of things.

    For landscape plantings I simply find it easier to use the granular 0-10-10 in the fall every year and after 3-4 years in the ground add some granular fertilizer in late spring or early summer N(6-10)P(16-20)K(16-20). Make sure this fertilizer accounts for the macro and micro nutrients your plants would need.

    I have never had experience with the more natural forms of fertilization, so I can't really speak to the manure, but without the product being processes and analyzed for nutrient ratio, you would be taking some chance. It would make sense to get the prodcut from someone who has a good history with its use or production.

    MJH
     
  8. SilverVista

    SilverVista Active Member

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    As stated previously, the nutrient content of cow manure will vary greatly with the diet of the cow. Because of the quantity needed in order to produce either bagged or bulk manure for gardeners, most commercially sold manure comes either from dairies or feed lots where large quantities of consistent output are available. In both cases, the animals are being fed for maximum production, resulting in higher levels of pass-through nutrients. Both meat and milk production require a high protein input, and protein is to animal life what nitrogen is to plants. However, keep in mind that ruminant animals (cows, sheep, goats, deer, and actually even baleen whales, to name a few) are designed to digest their nutrition from large quantities of high-bulk, low-digestible forages, and the rumen uses both enzymes and specialized bacteria in order to break down the roughage enough to extract the nutrient value. Those enzymes and bacteria continue to "work" in the manure after it has exited the system, and help in the composting process. They also often serve as secondary nutrients themselves.

    The only problem I can see with use of composted manure is that you may not be able to purchase it with a guaranteed analysis. Chemical and fish fertilizers come with a "recipe" so that you know that a tablespoon in a certain size container, or diluted in a certain amount of water, provides a certain amount off nutrition to your plant. But manure is a much more subjective ingredient. I think there is a definite benefit to the organic and live-organism content of the soil, but it's a much more touchy-feely sort of thing to know that you're using it correctly for your situation. I'd be very cautious if using it in a potting media or to amend the soil in a planting hole because it will be very dense, spongey and moisture-retentive like peat. A little can be good, but goes a long way. Manure tea, made by soaking a couple handfuls of manure in a 5-gal bucket of water, can be very beneficial by encouraging the natural soil organisms in addition to adding some n-p-k, and the "Soil Soup"-type concoctions that have become very popular in the last 3 or 4 years are just fancy, aerated versions of manure tea, and have been shown to be helpful in protecting against all kinds of plant maladies.

    Susan
     
  9. Keeb's

    Keeb's Active Member

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    Thanks everyone for your help it has been very informative.

    Layne thanks for the link :) Now I understand!

    Kind regards
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Don't amend the soil in a planting hole anyway, with manure or anything else. It's not beneficial, is actually somewhat harmful.
     
  11. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Layne
     
  12. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I've stated what I use for fertilizers in another post in this forum.
    I agree with the concept that what works for me may not be what
    you all may want to use for a fertilizer. I will instead be rather
    steadfast in when to fertilize a Japanese Maple as timing is more
    important to me.

    Japanese Maples have historically grown well with small to no
    added applications of Nitrogen. Manures applied to Maples have
    their plusses but there are also some definite drawbacks that may
    outweigh or preclude the use of any of them. Cow manure or
    steer manure used in a planting mix or even placed at the bottom
    of a planting hole is just asking for trouble as the roots have to
    endure a poisoning of some sort, mostly a burning effect, while
    the Nitrogen from the manure goes through a denitrification
    process of undergoing a few oxidization reduction stages
    before the Nitrogen can be fully readily utilized by the plant.
    In some cooler areas this cycle can take as long as a year to go
    from a nitrate form of Nitrogen to a Nitrogen form that can be
    absorbed by the roots and then moved upward and throughout
    the plant.

    I think there is a real problem herein in that people are looking
    at ways to get their Maples to grow better for them, produce lots
    of new growth at the expense of a viable root system. Short term
    we can get a lot of new growth on our Maples growing them in
    containers and in the ground but I must point out that there have
    been several posts in this Maple forum dealing with Maples that
    are not showing their truer characteristics all because the Maples
    are too young to give a good read as to what they are and we have
    faked the plants somewhat with over fertilization. So much so
    that we are seeing much larger sizes to the leaves, taller plants
    than are characteristic of some cultivars and Maples that may not
    live a long time for us once they are in the ground. Few of you
    have been paying attention to some of the posts as there have
    been stated a few do not do areas that some of us learned the
    hard way but many of you want a nice looking, fast growing
    plant but you will not take heed of the advice that in doing so
    you risk that your Maple will not be around long because of it.
    Maples in the wild get no added fertilization than what nutrients
    are in the soil already. Even those Maples will outlive most
    people's in this forum all because many of you want too much
    top growth on these plants when they are too darn young to be
    successful doing so for long term stability. Maples are not 5-10
    year plants but many of you are caring for them as if they are
    going to be. If you want your Maples to last 25-30 years or
    more then many of you are going to have to rethink your
    fertilization practices and learn when to fertilize and when
    not to. You'll learn this stuff but many of you will lose a
    few Maples in the process and then many of you can blame
    Verticillium as being your killer pathogen when many times
    it was you that killed your Maple due to you wanting too
    much from the plant too soon in its development.

    As far as amending a planting hole: in many areas of the
    Pacific Northwest with their prevailing soils it probably
    is best not to amend the planting hole. That thinking will
    not work here too well. For several plants grown here
    regardless of soil type to not amend the top half of the
    planting hole will be considered reckless by consensus.
    People that have not grown plants here just do not know
    the importance of being in the position to be forced
    sometimes into having to apply less water and still
    maintain the livelihood of the plant. Experts from other
    areas for years have gotten their information on growing
    plants from us down here and now they want to be
    highly regarded at growing plants in their regions. Well,
    some of them are expert in their home areas but the basics
    of growing plants in temperate climates with dwindling
    water supplies makes us have to look at the water, soil
    and plant relationships in more defined terms than they
    have had to. So we have to take what they write with a
    grain of salt as what may apply for them in the Pacific
    Northwest may just be a death sentence for plants grown
    here. I have always felt that when giving, what many of
    us will take it as being, universal advice of growing plants
    in a specific region that there should be a clarification made
    that what may work well there, conducted under mostly
    controlled conditions by current day researchers, may not
    apply at all to areas elsewhere and to some extent even at
    the original location with plants grown under normal
    growing conditions instead.

    As an added note: I read a .pdf file recently on a type of
    fertilization recommended from people I know from here
    that would not do for themselves what they are advising
    production growers to do with their own trees grown in
    their own home orchards. I am not picking on anybody
    in particular from the Pacific Northwest or anywhere
    else with the above paragraph as we have our share of
    people here that have lost sight on what not to do for
    fertilizing certain Fruit Trees for example.

    Jim
     
  13. PoorOwner

    PoorOwner Active Member 10 Years

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    Jim, that is a good warning for us.

    I think most of us probably have gotten used to a habit to fertilize our plants like Roses and fruit trees and see good results. The idea of "fertilize is good" kind of burned into our heads. Not to mention when you go to any gardening center a whole shelf full of fertizers with wonderful claims will make us want to try them.

    As maples are on average more expensive plants, we tend to overly care and protect them and hence get the idea to fertilize them again.

    At least we are here to ask the question first, and learn from each other's experience rather than dumping a bunch of miracle gro at the recommended strength onto our maples.

    Well, what I get from this thread is that Japanese maples are understory trees and probably thrived on composted material found on the forest floor. So then maybe fertilizer high in nitrogen would stimulate too much top growth but not giving the roots enough time to match it. Are we safe if we stay away from nitrogen for younger plants i.e. 0-10-10?

    I admit, I recently fertilized one of my maples too with dynagro 7-9-5 This was on my (ugly) lawn that was probably 20 years old near an ash tree of 3 feet caliper that is probably much older. In this case I thought the soil was not so fertile and too lazy to find a place to test my soil, but I wanted to make sure I covered all the bases.

    Other than that, I have been using kellogs compost and lightly top dress the maples I planted this year in the ground, that has been my sole "fertilizer", time will tell how well that works but I thought it might be a more natural way to supply nutrients.
     
  14. mjh1676

    mjh1676 Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    To further what Jim is saying, when I get a new maple, it often comes with a healthy supply of slow-release fertilizer in the container. A one gallon plant may have enough fertilzer for a 5 gallon can. At the least, I usually remove the fertilizer and often I repot, removing the fertilizer and as much soil as I can safely manage.

    From this point, I feel like I have a good place to start. I will begin with a root stimulator that contains rooting hormones and maybe a light does of fertilizers. In the first year, my plant might see some more rooting compounds, maybe some B1 or liquid 0-10-10. In the fall some granular 0-10-10.

    What the primary question becomes in subsequent years is what do I expect? What we all face is not knowing what to expect from our plants and we make subjective judgements about what to add based on assumptions. I have always expected to see even growth regularly from year to year on my plants, but I am beginning to see a pattern of delayed gowth, where some plants grow better in some years and some years there are two flushes of growth and others there might only be one. Do we run to fertilize or let the plants grow when they want and are ready.

    I speak specifically to the potted situation where I have burned maples with Miracid and damaged foliage with slow-release products like osmocote and multicote. With poor success in this fashion, I am trying to find a good program with the roots in mind. Looking a products like superthive, soluable kelp, B1, and a regular application of micronutrients for potted plants. By doing this, maybe I can get a healthier plant without the top overgrowth. At critial times of the year, soluable nitrogen can be added into waterings, maybe mid-spring and once or twice in the summer with a return to 0-10-10 in the fall.

    I mentioned in my first post that I have been adding dry, but green, small pine bark to my potting mix and I suspect that it is using some of the nitrogen in its decay. I am looking for a good source or aged fir bark as to eliminate this as a factor. I have lost only a couple plants over the past 5 years, but I also have plants that look o.k. but stagnate, only growing a very little amount every year. Say an Osakazuki that only puts on a couple of inches of growth, for example. So I still have many issues to solve--the goal being health, good color and characteristics, with necessary vigor.

    I have to remind myself that not all problems are not directly nutrient related. Many issues can be linked to watering schedules and soil composition. A heavy soggy potting mix will be very hard on the roots of a potted plant, mistaking this situation as a nutrient problem and adding nitrogen is certain trouble. We might consider starting with determining what to plant our maple in and analyzing how to deal with native soils and worry about the fertilizers next.

    MJH
     
  15. Elmore

    Elmore Active Member 10 Years

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    hmm...what's the best? I don't know but when I look at fertilizer labels I look for a complete fertilizer with a micro-package and extended release or controlled release. In addition I look for fertilizer with nitrogen that is not entirely of an ammoniacal or urea source. I look for a fertilizer with nitrogen sources consisting of the above ingredients in addition to calcium nitrate, potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate. I don't find much like this in retail products. Another thing that I look carefully at is the potassium source, I look for potassium sulfate and avoid other sources especially potassium chloride a.k.a. muriate of potash, too hot for my plants in containers. Well established trees in the field are more forgiving as far as fertilizers go but I usually topdress them with a decent extended release with a micro-package. With any of my maples, in containers or in the landscape, I use a good CRF at time of planting and transplanting. Polyon, Osmocote, Nutricote, whatever I have on hand. I will likely go with a Harrell's product next time I need CRF as they are local and are advanced. A similar product, out west, would be APEX. I also topdress my plants in containers with a little calcium nitrate and an extended release granular, Pennington Nursery & Landscape 14-7-7. It has worked well for my trees, is economical and is not too "hot". I have used bloodmeal and guano on occasion and sometimes use organic, natural or fortified organics like Nature Safe or Espoma on young plants. On new seedlings I find that a little calcium nitrate dissolved in water works great. Apply as soon as true leaves form. My approach is not based on soil/water test results or leaf analysis but is primarily on guess work and trial & error.
    I hear that foliar applications work well and experimenting with that method is on my future agenda.
    Overall I have seen a big improvement in wholesale fertilizer products and a marked decline in the quality of retail fertilizer products available. Read the label. If in doubt go organic.
    If anybody knows of a silver bullet please forward the info.
     
  16. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    This year I tried Osmocote for the first time in some of my potted maples, just to see. The result is that those with Osmocote showed stunted growth and significant leaf burn as compared to those without ( the potting substrate that I use is based on composted oak leaves). I will not use it again.

    Gomero
     
  17. mjh1676

    mjh1676 Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Gomero,

    That has been my experience this year. I am a pretty conservative user also. I used on 3-7gal pots. All showed very burned foliage and little growth. I used the Osmocote related product multicote. I assume that there was some root damage or burning as well as a significant salt buildup that led to the leaf burn. The burn is pretty tell-tale.

    Brad mentions APEX which is used by one of the growers I buy from very often and he uses it pretty agressively. I do not see burn on his plants, but it might be timing of application or possibly a climate difference as he is farther north without the intensity of light or dry heat. It is possible it is also a superior product, but i have not compared lables. The plants I have not repotted from him that still have the APEX on them from this season have not burned yet and we are over 100deg.F. today. Maybe there is some truth to what Brad says about retail vs. wholesale fertilizer products.

    I think I am going to try the more organic dilute appliations of products more frequently and see how that goes. I have plans to repot nealy my entire collection this fall in a new mix, so I will have the opportunity to start fresh.

    MJH
     
  18. yweride

    yweride Active Member 10 Years

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    Gomero, i have found Osmocote to work best for our plants in containers. It is my favorite time released fertilizer, though it is expensive. It sounds like you may have over fertlized a bit. I have the same problem once in a while too, it is always followed up with massive amounts of new growth that are perfect for scon wood though.

    mjh1676, i know many growers that simply use APEX because it is inexpensive. It dosent make sense for them to use a fertilizer such as Osmocote if they are not going to have the plant long term.
     
  19. mjh1676

    mjh1676 Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Good point yweride. I was with a friend earlier in the year at a growing operation and he himself is involved in propagation. Noticing the APEX, he kind of frowned and pointed out how inexpensive it is to use and that he did not care for it.

    I suppose my point was that the composition difference between APEX and Osmocote is that even when a large amounts of APEX was used, the risk of burning was much less than the trouble one can get in with Osmocote and the creation of harmful salts.

    I have been researching some of the organic fertilizers and have run into a number of them that actively state that the natural forms of macronutrients are available without the risk of creation of harmful salts. Now one has to balance the practicality of having to use water soluable liquid applications (practical for me) vs. being able to add a slow-release granular like Osomocote (more practical for you). I under stand that if all your plants ended up burned you wouldn't sell many so I suspect when used by someone that has some exerience, as with all fertilizers, it is a good product.

    On with my research.....do you use anything else besides Osmocoote on your plants. From you photos, they seem to be in pretty large containers--definately larger than the 2's and 3's I am playing with.

    MJH
     
  20. Cirrus57

    Cirrus57 Member

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    I am looking for some guidance on my Inaba Shidare and fertilization . I planted it in the second week of June (2005) and gave it a lot of peat and potting soil . I have been putting Miracle-Gro (15-30-15) on it with a lot of water . Usually a 10 liter pail of water soluble about once a week . A lot of the older leaves have been burning off as a result of the heat for the past month but the new leaves seem fine . There is a LOT of new growth on it and I am worried that I may be hurting it in the long run . It is about 4 1/2 feet high atm . It gets a lot of afternoon sun and is planted in the garden .
    from Toronto thanks for any ideas
     
  21. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Yweride wrote:
    It sounds like you may have over fertlized a bit

    Since I was not sure of the dose, I varied the amount used in each container (which, by the way, are fairly large, 5-10 gallons). The result was negative independently of the dose. I used Osmocote Pro with a formula 18+9+10+2MgO+TE (this stands for Trace Elements). The Omocote catalogue contains several different formulas and maybe the one I chose was not the best for Japanese Maples (too much N?).

    I should add that other maples that I have in smaller containers (Capillipes, Oliverianum, Barbinerve,….), oaks and birches (all in small containers) seem to love this same Osmocote with a lot of lush growth and with doses comparable to those of the Japanese Maples.

    Since all the Japanese maples concerned had been repotted last winter, one possible explanation is that one should fertilize only after the maple is well established in its new environment, but I am not betting much on this.

    Kind regards,
     
  22. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    A complement and correction to my previous post. As I checked today, there is an exception to the behaviour (as reported above) of the palmatums with Osmocote fertilizer and it is the Okushimo (see post in the photo gallery). With a fairly large dose it seems to behave quite well with strong healthy summer growth.
    To be statistically complete, there were in total 9 different cultivars that had problems and one, the Okushimo, that did not.

    Regards

    Gomero
     
  23. Idacer

    Idacer Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Interesting rationale ... not sure I follow. More to the story, there is?

    For me, I think I'm just going to side with Jim and swear off nitrogen products on my maples. I gave my potted specimens a little cocktail of 9-9-9 this spring and the resulting leaf burn was horrendous. I might buy into the phosphate-potash-micronutrient fall program, but I think they're going to have to rely on what little N exists in leaf mold compost for that part of their diet.

    Bryan
     
  24. mendocinomaples

    mendocinomaples Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    It is easy to check with your local farm or argiculture commissioner and find out where you can get a soil analysis. There are also sites on the web that can also be found.

    For approx. $35. A. & L. Western Ag labs in Modesto CA will check your sample and list out the nutrient levels. Well worth the price to end the guessing of what will work and agony of burning/killing our maples.

    robert
     
  25. Maple Sydney

    Maple Sydney Member

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    Does anyone know what the N-P-K composition of seaweed is?

    The label on my bottle doesn't list this. I am hoping it has very little or no Nitrogren as I've learned from this forum that maples do not like nitrogen.

    I also find it hard to find any fertiliser that has no nitro in my area.
     

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