Organic fertilizer for Peach

amyjeanApril 4, 2009

I am new to growing fruit trees and have seen that it's recommended to use a 10-10-10 fertilizer on them (I have a peach tree.) When I went to my local feed store to purchase an organic fertilizer for it, they only had the Espoma brand, which states it is recommended for fruit trees, but it lists the contents as 6-3-2. Why the difference? Isn't this too much nitrogen in relation to the other nutrients? Thanks in advance for any help.

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alan haigh

Who knows what your peach tree needs exactly? When you are establishing it, it might benifit from extra quick release N but in most soils won't respond at all to P and K. Standard recs of 10-10-10 are not based on research I'm aware of but someone here will probably enlighten me.

I am certain that you won't experience any significant difference by using 6-3-2 instead of 10-10-10, but it might be better if you had some idea about what you're doing. That would mean testing your soil as a minimum.

I only automatically add N when I'm establishing a tree and want max growth.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 5:39PM
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I am in the Harvestman corner here. I never deliberately fertilize any of my fruit trees with chemical or organically based fertilizers, but do apply a thick ring of stable manure mulch at least every 2 years. This builds up the soil naturally, and provides all the slow-release nutrients the trees need. Other organic mulches, such as shredded leaves or shredded bark/trees available at many municipal waste sites would serve the same purpose.

Applying your low-number organic fertilizer will probably not hurt anything, but since these products are usually quite expensive, I would not use them on a cost basis alone. They are not worth what they cost. The distinction between the numbers of chemical and organic fertilizers is almost irrelevant, but you do not want to apply anything with a very high N number. 6 is fairly low.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 2:50AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Almost all soils when tested will be found slightly low in nirogen. This is common and only indicates that nitrogen is easily leached from the soil. I agree with jellyman and would do likewise. It is not the amount of nitrogen that is important but the vegetative matter from the mulch that feeds the soil microbes which is what actually converts the nutrients into minerals the roots can take up. The vegetative matter is also responsible for helping maintain the soil structure which helps provide the oxygen the roots need. Al

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 9:17AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I agree that organic mulch is the most important. I still give all my trees a handful of Epsoma Plant Tone in case they are having a shortage of something (it includes all trace minerals, not just NPK).


    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 10:17PM
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alan haigh

When establishing trees and your key aim is rapid growth, a quick release N may be helpful. Urea is your cheapest form and is the primary ingredient in most lawn fertilizers. I believe that most plants show greater growth when given supplementary quick release N in most soils.

Commercial orchardists establishing young trees that aren't growing organic and all the big commercial nurseries I know of exploit this response with ample application of urea. This would amount to about a quarter cup spread around the base of a young tree.

I agree that a good mulch may accomplish the same results and fertilizer applied to a tree that is competing with weeds will fail to. Still, it is amazing how big some of the large fruit tree nurseries (Hilltop and some of Adams trees) can grow a tree in 1 season. Of course accelerated growth may encourage scale and mites.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 7:49AM
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Thank you everyone for the very helpful information. I think I'm starting to get the hang of gardening. I suppose as a newbie that I'm somewhat anxious and it seems that everywhere I turn I read about adding fertilizer to the soil. It is, however, very expensive, as mentioned!!

I did have a soil test done, although I don't think it tested nitrogen. Perhaps this is something not normally tested for. It listed the P as 14, the K as 305, and the Ph as 7.1. When I called the Extension Office (Cornell) to ask about the results, the person on the phone didn't seem to be very sure of herself, but did say that the Fe is low at 4.0. When I asked if this reflected the absolute amount of iron in the soil or the availability of iron, she didn't seem to be sure.

Considering the comments given by everyone here, it seems the appropriate action to promote a healthy peach tree for me is to give it a good bit of organic mulch on a regular basis and, perhaps, correct the soil for the low iron content? Is that a good plan? Again, thank you everyone for your expert help!


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 9:03AM
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alan haigh

By the time I answered the second time I forgot you were interested in organic fertilizer, sorry. For quick organic N I used to use blood meal, now I recommend alfalfa cubes that are used for horse feed, just because it's cheap and works quickly enough. I have posted elsewhere that human urine is an extremely affective quick release form of N. For some reason this tip has generated zero response!

You won't have much difficulty working out strategy if you were smart enough to ask whether iron was unavailable or deficient. I think iron is pretty omnipresent so I suspect that acids released by mulch as it decomposes will free up iron from your soil.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 9:47AM
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Harvestman: Organic or otherwise, your information is helpful and appreciated for my general knowledge base!

I read your idea about human urine as a source of nitrogen on a separate thread and did a little "googling" on it awhile back. It would seem to be a great source of nitrogen but with some limitations. There was some commentary that it shouldn't be stored for any amount of time; why I can't remember. If this is true, however, that would make it somewhat awkward to use.

Also, I suppose that the idea in itself is a bit off-putting, perhaps because as a culture we aren't used to it. Also, I'm wondering if it was ever done in the past regularly. I'm thinking that maybe with the Victorian age and its associated aversion to all things body related, and then in the early and mid 1900's the emphasis on everything technological and science oriented (including perfectly healthy mothers feeding their children lab-produced milk instead of their own milk; perfectly healthy young women encouraged to have babies in what I consider to be horrific hospital situations instead of at home with a good mid-wife, EVERYONE, practically, eating synthetic foods instead of real, such as margerine versus butter, and -who knew that chickens came with bones and skin?? And FEATHERS! It seems most of us have no idea how to get from the whole, live, clucking thing to Coq Au Vin -what we think of as a chicken these days is a lump of white meat with no bones and no skin. But I digress. My point is that perhaps it is a very good gardening practice but just has been victim to sqeamishness, etc. I shall consider it, but I have a feeling my husband won't be as enthusiastic!


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:10PM
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"Also, I suppose that the idea in itself is a bit off-putting"

I think for guys it's somewhat less and women somewhat more.

"but I have a feeling my husband won't be as enthusiastic! "

For most men it's second nature.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 1:43PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

This is good news. As soon as my new trees are in the ground I'll stop yelling at my 6 boys for being lazy! I'll say, "Hey guys, direct the spray to the new trees". I'm sure they'll be glad to oblige!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:18AM
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alan haigh

Milehigh approach with caution. Urine converts to urea very quickly and overdose is quite possible. I haven't worked out the math in terms of potency but I generally use it fairly diluted in my vegie garden- if only to get it into the soil a bit. It really helps my vegies get off to a bangen good start- I lay off by mid-summer.

On my young trees I use a quart or 2 undiluted when trees are about to come out of dormancy right before rain (to keep complaints down and to avoid volitization). I don't believe that storage poses any problem at all besides amplifying the smelliness. I store all my winter production. I wonder what that claim was about. In China urea is often manufactured from human urine, I'm told.

A small gasoline container is pretty good for men to use- no chance of anyone mistaking it for apple cider that way!
My wife always hides my gas container when we have guests.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 5:02PM
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