Thursday, April 9, 2015

Why Not All Fertilizers are the Same

During my college years, I had a number of friends who were into bodybuilding. I found the supplements and how they could be used to build muscle fascinating. Frankly, I did more research than your average pencil neck geek. However, in the early days, I have to shake my head at some of the worthless stuff I bought. Marketing hype sometimes drove purchases because of my ignorance.  At other times, good research was done, but the studies were early and later researched disproved the early hypotheses. On some occasions good quality supplements were purchased, but the the quantities of the key ingredients were so low that no good would come from them. Much of all of this is the same when it comes to picking fertilizers for your pumpkin plants. All fertilizer labels should read, "Buyer beware!"

I have to chuckle to myself when I go into a hydroponic shop. It kind of looks like a GNC store. Slick looking labels, marketing lingo and lots of promises. You look at the label on some of these products and most of them have good ingredients but very little of the key ingredients. Then you look at the price. For 1/2 the price you could get 3x the amount of product if you got the fertilizer at somewhere other than a hydroponic store. If you were to test the products, in some cases you would find that there was very little of the key ingredients in the bottle. I think of a popular mycorrhiza product that was recently tested and it was found that it pretty much was just kitty litter in the bottle. This is the same product I see getting rave reviews on some of the forums.

If I told you I had a product that in studies it was found, when given in the proper doses, would double your plant size and yield, it may grab your interest. Then what if I told you that this plant supplement was found to increase beneficial microbe activity, increase root mass and was found in university studies to increase fruit yield by over 25%, it may grab your attention. Then, what if I told you is that this magic elixur, used by the past 5 world record giant pumpkin growers could be yours for just $10 per pound, would you buy some?  Then, what if I told you this magic supplement was, drum roll please: water!?

If you go through and read my claims in the previous paragraph you'll find that all of the statements I made were accurate. Water would do all of that for your plant, and although misleading, nothing was a lie. Now you understand how the marketers do it.

Having said all of that, don't think you should not buy fertilizer and other nutrients for your plants. In many cases you need them. But do your research first. Read everything you can. If a fertilizer makes a claim, go read the first hand source and see if it matches up to the claim. Ask other growers if they have used the supplement and what they found. And then do your own trials and take notes. There are great things out on the market, even more than just 6 years ago. But be an informed grower, save money and get a bigger pumpkin!

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