Low budget Bearded Iris fertilizer?

misskaydJune 25, 2007

Well, this is the second question I've posted, hope it don't bother anyone.

But, I have a rather large iris bed that's about to grow a lot bigger and I'm going to have to buy a lot of fertilizer to get the new and the ones I have. But, extra money is usually a problem for us.

Does anyone know any good fertilizer that don't have too much nitrogen that's not too costly? I know luck runs short on that, but if anyone knows of any, please let me know. I'd love to be able to get some for them.

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iris_gal(z9 CA)

I bought a 20 lb. sack of 12-12-12 at Home Depot. Could not find any cheaper and lower in nitrogen. I'm not recommending it but it's what I did. Used it sparingly.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 5:26PM
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misskayd

Thank you for your comment, iris_gal. =)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 5:29PM
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sierra_z2b

I am going to try alfalfa pellets. A Canadian iris grower recommends them for an organic fertilizer. He says just to sprinkle lightly around the iris. Alfalfa pellets are sold as horse feed...and are usually pretty cheap.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 10:44AM
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njiris(z 5 NJ)

I use the alfalfa pellets. As animal feed they go for about 20.00 for a 50 lb bag. I think they work great. But of course don't over use! I don't know what 'too much' is, but about 30 pounds went into an area 20 x 15.
And don't get the stuff mixed with corn meal; get only the 100% pure alfalfa.
Laetitia

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 2:18PM
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njiris(z 5 NJ)

I almost forgot: the 30 lbs also went into another approx 10 x 10 area. That makes 30 lbs for 400 square feet and they seem to like it just fine.
Laetitia

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 1:42AM
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misskayd

Sounds good. I'll have to try some, but I'll be working for a while to get the money. I get paid even less than minimum wage, so I should hopefully be able to buy some after I help my mom with things we need for now.

Thank you all very much, I really appreciate it. :)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 2:24AM
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sparxiris

I use superphosphate and pottassium sulphate, which i buy seperately. If you have a lot of irises, buy in bulk for lower prices. I feed no nitrogen, but i do incorporate well rotted cow manure and compost into the soil when I make up new beds. I also mulch between rows with lucerne (alfalfa) hay or pea straw whis are both high in nitrogen.

I have used lucerne (alfalfa) pellets around irises with a very strange effect. They rapidly absorb any moisture and expand into a sloppy mush, so keep them away from the rhizomes. When I touched this sloppy looking substance, it recoiled, and so did I. It had effectively 'come alive' as the earthworms had laid thousands of eggs in it and the lucerne mush was full of baby earthworms, giving it a sort of elasticity. If it is good for worms it can't be bad for the garden!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 4:11AM
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misskayd

Thank you sparxiris for your message. This is a lot of help and I am going to share it with a friend of mine who's also an iris grower with a larger bed.

I'm sure it will help him out too as much as these suggestions have answered a lot of my questions.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 4:23AM
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wmoores(7/8 MS)

All of my experiences with alfalfa pellets has been bad.

Topdressing with it in a hot, damp climate leaves a bad odor. Also, if it dries out after a rain, it forms a crust that keeps air from getting to the plants.

Tilling it in when making a new bed might be ok, but I had bad leafspot and rot the next spring.

A friend who does a lot of container gardening with huge plastic pots put alfalfa pellets in the bottom of the containers. He had the worst invasion of mice ever. They went through the drainage holes after the alfalfa, even killing some of the plants. It was his worst gardening nightmare. He fought this problem for months.

If you are going to use it at all, use it sparingly the first time in just one area to see how it reacts in your garden. Then, if things work out, use it in other areas or over the entire garden.

To those of you who have had success with alfalfa, I salute you.

If you are on a budget and want commercial fertilizers, check with co-ops. They have 'busted' sacks that don't weigh 40 or 50 # that they sell for a dollar or so. Go for the lowest first number you can find.

Walter Moores

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 6:42AM
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irisfan(z 5-6 OH)

We buy a fertilizer at a feed mill that is 6-24-24 and it costs us less than $10.00 for a 50 lb. bag. We have been using it for many years.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 12:17PM
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west_texas_peg(8a West Cen TX)

Been using alfaltha meal with no problem; my garden and lawn love it. Pay $11 or so at a local feed store.

Also use cornmeal, buy 25# bags (the stuff you use to make cornbread), think it is $5 or so. I dust my roses with cornmeal and we have no black spot which should have been really bad this year what with the 22" of rain thus far which is our annual rainfall if we get any at all! We have been in a drought for years here. Last year it was wildfires, this year it is flooding.

Peggy

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 10:16AM
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njiris(z 5 NJ)

Peggy:
I am surprised you use cornmeal with good results. All I have heard about it is that it retards growth and not to use it as a fertilizer.
Laetitia

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 10:50PM
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west_texas_peg(8a West Cen TX)

njiris

Corn gluten is used for that....cornmeal you use to make cornbread is beneficial to your plants. I need to put out more but I forget...guess I need to put the bag by my door!!

Peggy

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 2:55PM
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njiris(z 5 NJ)

So corn gluten is not in corn meal? I think of it as a component of the corn like wheat gluten is part of the wheat meal but I really don't know.
Laetitia

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 10:48PM
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west_texas_peg(8a West Cen TX)

You will find many threads on GW if you use search for 'cornmeal'. Some use it for fungus problems; I was just reading a thread and think I'm going to use it on my crepe myrtle, squash and cantelope vines...we are having so much rain here in Texas, we usually do not have this problem so I'm not complaining!

Good luck,
Peggy

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 10:23AM
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