Some fertilizer, some bamboo

I may have mentioned it before, but I use organic fertilizers on all of my in-ground plantings: vegetables, perennials, bamboo -- everything. For my potted plants though, I use synthetic fertilizers.

Typically I use a water-soluble blue powdered fertilizer -- Ok, it's "Miracle-Gro".

Why don't I use organics on my potted plants too? Well, I will use organic lawn fertilizer (Milorganite for instance) on my potted bamboos, but that's in addition to the Miracle-Gro. Bamboo are pretty heavy feeders. For plants in pots, organics just aren't enough, and they're too slow-acting.

They take some time to start breaking down and deliver the nutrients, while the magic blue solution works almost instantly. I won't use this stuff in the ground though, as I want good organic soil there, and don't want the chemicals to interfere with the bacteria or other essential organisms that live in healthy soil. Plus repeated use of synthetics can lead to harmful salt buildups in the soil. This isn't a concern with pots, since pots get flushed out almost every time you water them.

One trick I've learned when fertilizing dozens of pots of all sizes is to mix up a big batch instead of filling the watering can over and over. I'll use my 5-gallon bucket to carry up to the deck, or back to the bamboo area:

Then I'll use a smaller bucket to ladle the solution out into the plants. Much faster than mixing in the watering can.

But I'll also fill up this 20-gallon tub:

Then I'll just submerge my watering can into it for a quick refill. It saves so much time!

I'll fertilize this way every 2 weeks or so. Ideally I would fertilize every week with a weaker solution than what the package directs, but that's a lot of work and I've got a long list of other chores I can be doing...

...for instance, digging some more bamboo from Michael's garden!

Since I've written about digging over there several times I'll spare the details, but this time we're digging up an Indocalamus tessellatus -- a smaller bamboo with some huge leaves. The leaves can reach 4" wide and 24" long, and it's a beautiful bamboo that contrasts nicely with the smaller-leaved varieties.

I've already got some smaller specimens of this species, and I planted one a couple of months ago, but I've got a good-sized specimen now that's ready to make an immediate visual impact, not in a few years like the smaller plants. Where to put it though...

Too many bamboos, too little space!

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Chris  – (June 16, 2013 at 11:45 PM)  

Love the idea of submerging cans to save time. What about younger bamboo? I put in two 5 gal pots about 3 months ago. They are starting to put out a couple of culms about 1/2 a foot so far. As a starter the few culms were 4 feet or so.

I've used an organic grass fertilizer called Down To Earth. But,I wanted to goose it a little with Miracle Grow - more nitrogen. I plan to continually amend and improve the soil What do you think? Thanks!

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