Set the Tone in Your Garden

6a013488d5d086970c01b8d0bc1d5b970c-257x227New Jersey, the Garden State, has an eight-decade resource fully capable of providing nutrition for all your “green friends.” The Espoma Company, founded in 1929, is a fourth generation family owned and managed business in Millville, New Jersey dedicated to the highest quality, most effective, natural and organic products for the lawn and garden industry. Sourcing the finest and purest natural ingredients available and adhering to strict quality control standards, their steadfast journey to continually improve their products has led to generations of happy gardening.

For over eighty years, Espoma Tones, organic plant foods, have helped define the naturally beautiful garden. Each Tone has been carefully developed in conjunction with nursery and horticultural professionals to produce outstanding flowers, shrubs and vegetables. No fillers, sludge or inert ingredients are ever used. Their long lasting natural organics break down slowly, adding organic matter to the soil while being low in salts so they won’t burn your plants. Espoma’s arsenal of organic plant foods covers everything; evergreens, deciduous beauties, vegetables, bulbs, flowers, roses, citrus and even palms. And while their label names take all the guesswork out of the decision-making process, many customers seem unfamiliar with or are intimidated by the proportion of each macronutrient the fertilizer contains.

So what about those three numbers on a fertilizer bag… what do they really mean? In order to understand plant nutrition you should be aware that there are nineteen elements essential for plant growth. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are primarily supplied by air and water, leaving a plants roots to absorb the remaining sixteen elements from the surrounding soil. The primary nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) are the three numbers we read on a fertilizer package to guide our decisions and help target our needs. Plant foods sold in the United States generally have a label with information on the following: Grade, Net Weight, Guaranteed Analysis and Source of Nutrients. Having said this it really is as easy as UP, DOWN, ALL AROUND! Nitrogen, the first of the three numbers, is responsible for vigorous growth and dark green color above the soil line (Up). Phosphorus helps root development and flowering (Down). Potassium is responsible for the overall hardiness and disease resistance of a plant (All Around). Let’s put this simple idea into play. If you were to buy a starter fertilizer for your lawn you would want to develop the roots first before the green growth. Many starter fertilizers would then have a higher middle number, as is the case with Espoma’s Organic Lawn Starter Fertilizer 3-6-3. This “N-P-K” ratio reflects the available nutrients, by weight contained in that fertilizer. Important to note that the N-P-K ratio for organics is typically lower than that of synthetics, as it’s an expression of what is immediately available.

The debate whether to use organic or synthetic fertilizers is always heavily weighed. Organic and synthetic fertilizers provide nutrients in different ways. Organic fertilizers are made from naturally occurring mineral deposits and organic materials while synthetic fertilizers are made by chemically processing raw materials. Generally speaking, organic fertilizers are not water-soluble and are released to the plant slowly over a period of months. Organics stimulate beneficial soil microorganisms and improve soil structure. Soil content plays an important role converting organic fertilizers into nutrients that can be absorbed by your plants. Synthetic fertilizers are water-soluble and can be taken up by the plant almost immediately. This in turn gives a plant a quick boost, however it may do little to improve soil structure. Be mindful not to apply too much of a synthetic as you can burn the foliage and damage your plant. One advantage synthetics have over an organic though is they make themselves readily available to a plant early in the spring before soil temperatures are warm enough for organics. Both are useful, so you decide for yourself.

Espoma is a company whom you would enjoy doing business with. A local company whose ideas still reflect those of yesteryear. Environmentally and socially responsible, utilizing a vast array of renewable and sustainable ingredients that work with nature. Espoma supports a wide variety of community, education and environmental outreaches as well as other non-profit organizations working towards a positive change. Pillars that may seem trite, but are in fact their makeup are quality, service, integrity, education, profitability and responsibility. Attributes that immediately want me to align our company with theirs. And with all this they still pick up the phone to field questions and concerns without automated machines and call centers.