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Old 04-04-2012, 05:08 PM   #1
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Default Organic vs. chemical fertilizer for hops

Sorry if this is redundant but I havent found too much solid info on fertilizers for hops.

Anyone have personal opinions experiences they could share on compost/manure etc. vs chemical fertilizers for hops?

Thanks.

Caleb

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Old 04-04-2012, 05:24 PM   #2
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I haven't had a TON of experience growing hops...

But Fox Farm organic soil is awesome. It's actually mostly earthworm castings. And then there's a myriad of Fox Farm nutrients (both liquid and soluble crystals) for keeping a balance.

The nice thing about that them is you can adjust the Phosphorus-Nitrogen-Potassium levels to help the plant focus on shoot growing, and then when it's big enough switch over to a ratio that favors flowering.

The stuff really is quite awesome.

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Old 04-04-2012, 07:24 PM   #3
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I'm a big fan of organics - stuff like Fox Farms is good stuff but a bit pricey and more intended for growing hops cousin plant (although I'm sure hops would love the stuff). There are lots of organic options out there that work great and can be found at Wmart, HD, Lowes. Miracle gro makes an organic fertilizer that is composted poultry manure that works good for early growth since it's high in Nitrogen. Fish derived fertilizers are great too for early growth. Sprinkle some bone meal around the crowns to add phosphorus and calcium to the soil and keep the area covered with a nice layer of compost or leaf mold and your plants will be pretty well fed all year. Good healthy soil with lots of room for the plants to spread roots will pay off nicely at harvest time.

Miracle grow and chemical fertilizers will grow plants quickly, but it's like feeding your kids steroids to make them bigger and stronger. They become dependant on the chemicals, and the chemicals will kill all beneficial bacteria and microbes in the soil that naturally help feed plants and keep them healthy. If you stop feeding them the chemicals the plants become weak and more prone to disease.

I really enjoy watching all my plants in my garden grow every year, knowing that earthworms, microbes and all sorts of little creatures are symbiotically working together to make my plants green, healthy and strong. But I am a bit of a dork.

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Old 04-04-2012, 07:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crstevens15 View Post
Sorry if this is redundant but I havent found too much solid info on fertilizers for hops.

Anyone have personal opinions experiences they could share on compost/manure etc. vs chemical fertilizers for hops?
Where are you and what kind of soil do you have? Hops need nitrogen until they start putting out cones and then potassium after that (or shortly before spur formation).

If you have a good top-soil base, IMO, top-dressing with well-aged compost is the way to go. Any chemical ferts should be of the slow-release variety.

There are a few field pocket guides to help diagnose issues you might be seeing in the field if growth seems off or leaves are burned/deformed, etc (google search will find it for ya).

Here is a well-circulated fertilizer guide discussing hop needs (as measured in Willamette Valley hop yards)
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/cat.../fg/fg79-e.pdf
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:27 PM   #5
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Organic is king for in-ground growth

Chemical is king for container growth

What are you planning on? Either way, I suggest perusing the forums on gardenweb.com - Tons of good info there that will further support my above advice with much research.

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Old 04-04-2012, 07:36 PM   #6
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from another thread:

Quote:
i wouldn't be afraid of artificial fertilizers. it's the pure form of the same things the plants would get from manure, compost, etc. research has shown that plants are indifferent where they get their N-P-K from.

manure/compost/etc is superior for other reasons (soil structure, slow release, pH, micronutrients, etc) so go with that if you've got it. but there is no reason IMO to fear the 10-10-10.

one thing with manure/compost/etc is that it is best if mixed into the soil. artificial fertilizers have the advantage that you can apply them at the surface or to the water, and they will make their way down to the roots much more efficiently than organic matter at the surface.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:39 PM   #7
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For chemical fertilizers in containerized plants, the best ratio is actually 3-1-2 (N-P-K). You might need a potassium boost upon fruiting/flowering to strengthen the roots (think of it like prenatal vitamins for pregnant women) but during the vegetative stage you really can't go wrong with the simple 3-1-2 ratio.

These will all give better results than 10-10-10, 10-15-30, 30-30-50, etc:

3-1-2
6-2-4
9-3-6
12-4-8
15-5-10

You don't want to mix and match Manure and Miracle Gro though. The soil culture in container plants is not suitable for organic composts and constantly changing soil structure/tilth. Just as the culture of in-ground soils is everchanging and more accustomed toward organic breakdown over time.

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Old 04-04-2012, 08:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigljd View Post
stuff like Fox Farms is good stuff but a bit pricey and more intended for growing hops cousin plant (although I'm sure hops would love the stuff).
Oh crap, really? My bad.... I've just used it on veggies and hops
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetcell View Post
from another thread:

i wouldn't be afraid of artificial fertilizers. it's the pure form of the same things the plants would get from manure, compost, etc. research has shown that plants are indifferent where they get their N-P-K from.

manure/compost/etc is superior for other reasons (soil structure, slow release, pH, micronutrients, etc) so go with that if you've got it. but there is no reason IMO to fear the 10-10-10.

one thing with manure/compost/etc is that it is best if mixed into the soil. artificial fertilizers have the advantage that you can apply them at the surface or to the water, and they will make their way down to the roots much more efficiently than organic matter at the surface.
I wouldn't necessarily be afraid of artificial fertilizers either. Slow release varieties would be the best artificial option since they will feed a bit at a time. I'd just be careful with the high NPK stuff out there like 20-35-25 or something like that (Miracle gro powders). They can burn plants and build up salts in the soil that can screw up soil balances. The nutrients are the same in artificial fertilizers, but the way the food is delivered to the plants can be very different. Compost and organics are broken down by microbes slowly over time, so the plants have continuous food available. Regular Miracle gro will give your plants a blast of nutrients but after a few days the plants begin to starve until the next feeding. Sort of like people binging on a huge meal and then starving for 2 weeks - it's not the healthiest way to live.

To me building compost piles and enriching the soil with it is all part of the fun of gardening, but I know not everyone has the space or desire to do that. Mix compost in with your potting soil and top dress with blood and bone meal and cover with more compost, and organics work just as well in containers as in the ground. I grow lemongrass, galangal, several citrus and blueberry plants, lettuce, spinach, garlic and lots of flowers and herbs in containers and grow all organic and the plants love it. As the saying goes, feed the soil, not the plants.
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:17 PM   #10
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Oh crap, really? My bad.... I've just used it on veggies and hops
Well, they are good ferts and will grow most anything well. Hop growers are not Fox Farms 'target consumers' though. Not that I would know about such things of course - it's strictly hearsay

Edit: Their company is based out of Humboldt County CA, if that give any clues to anyone LOL.
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