Always remember, if it is not good for your love ones (PETS), is it really good for you?
Use organic fertilizer that’s safe for your furry friends
MAUREEN GILMER Tribune News Service
A test of a new organic fertilizer.
What is really in this package?
Turns out to be whatever is left over after meat plants finish their packaging!
I thought it was a good idea to make organic gardening easier. A company had packaged tea bags filled with a blend of organic fertilizers. It was to be placed in a deep hole beneath a seedling for a nutritional boost after roots reach this cache. Clean, tidy and easy to use, it looked innovative enough for a test. As always, I want to be sure about any idea or product before advocating its use to others.
My test involved two groups of plants from the same flat planted together in the same bed so conditions were uniform. I forked compost evenly into both sides. On one side I dug a slightly deeper hole and dropped a tea bag in, then added soil and finally the plant. On the other side I planted normally. This control group would show me whether or not the tea bag group produced plants more vigorous and floriferous.
My rescued pit bull Lotus lay on the warm patio taking in the early season sun. She was a fixture in the garden and had seen me plant many times before, taking little interest in my efforts.
The next morning when I called her for breakfast, the food-loving dog didn’t appear as usual. Curious, I wandered outside to check on her. There, amid, a minefield of torn-up plants and empty tea bags, was Lotus, tail wagging, muzzle caked with dirt. Clearly she’d found the tea bags appealing enough to dig up the whole bed.
What had made this otherwise passive dog go ravenous in my flower bed? It was blood meal and bone meal in the fertilizer. These byproducts of the meat packing industry are rich in nitrogen and phosphorous used in many organic plant foods. Watering in my plants had saturated the tea bags and their contents, which heightened the scent. To a dog they became hamburgers and fries. Lotus’ nose is vastly more sensitive than that of human beings, and this subtle scent is irresistible to dogs. Though pit bulls aren’t renowned smellers, just imagine how much more these organic materials lure bloodhounds and other scent-trailing breeds!
Although I’d used organic fertilizers before with no problem, it was the tea bag that changed
everything. These materials were concentrated into a single potent packet. When I’d used significant amounts of loose fertilizers mixed into the soil, the earth diluted the sent to such an extent that there was not enough in any one spot to lure the dog.
While I learned something important about the concentration of organic fertilizers, there was another lesson, too. Lotus suffered from an upset stomach for days afterwards, making quite a mess indoors and out. I realized she’d ingested some pretty potent animal byproducts that could contain bacteria dangerous to pets. While this junkyard dog has a cast-iron constitution, many other smaller dogs or those with more sensitive digestive tracts may not be nearly as resilient if they get a stomach full.
These fertilizers. as well as guano and eggshells, will be highly attractive to dogs. Fish emulsion and amendments rich in fishing industry byproducts will also appeal to house cats. In rural areas, concentrations of fertilizers can lure scavenger species such as coyotes, bobcats and raccoons.
Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Keep using these beneficial organic fertilizers, but avoid concentrations. Work them into the soil deeply and thoroughly, which also ensures they are available to microbes and plant roots.