I thought it might be useful to compare the "ingredients" in organic and non-organic fertilizers. The two bags I have on hand are North Country Organics Pro-Gro with a 5-3-4 NPK ratio, and Scotts Starter Fertilizer, with a 20-27-5 NPK ratio.
North Country is what we used this year on my lawn; last year when we seeded the lawn, we used Scott's. (That was back when we were still "ignernt.")
Before I compare the ingredients, I want to compare the companies. North Country Organics is based in Bradford, Vermont. They have a full line of organic fertilizers, seeds, pest control products, etc. Many are the NCO brand but they distribute products from other manufacturers as well. Their products are available online and at retailers throughout New England, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Missouri. According to their website's "about" page:
NCO was founded in 1983 with the concept that any type of agriculture or horticulture can be productive, successful, and more profitable without compromising the earth's delicate eco-system with harmful chemicals.
I used Pro-Gro 5-3-4 on my lawn. They also have a fertilizer product that's called Nature's Turf 8-1-9 for specific use on lawns; in a perfect world I suppose I should have used that. But, I am not one to pay postage costs for a 25# bag of fertilizer so I bought what the nursery had in stock. (One of the problems with using organic products is that you often can't find what you want at retail stores. Drives me bananas.)
Anyway…the ingredient list for Pro-Gro 5-3-4 says:
Derived from: Dried Whey, Cocoa Meal, Compost, Peanut Meal, (Natural) Nitrate of Soda, Fish Tankage, Animal Tankage, Phosphate Rock, Soft Phosphate with Colloidal Clay, Ground Shells, Kelp Meal, and (Natural) Sulfate of Potash/Magnesia.
I have some questions about the materials, such as how they were obtained. Were the phosphates mined, for example? That may still be organic but I hate mining…I wish there was another way to get things like phosphates, coal, whatever, besides tearing holes in the earth. Also, what does "tankage" mean? But all in all, it seems to me a very earth-friendly ingredient list…that's why I bought it.
Please note: although you can tell from what I've written here that I admire North Country Organics fertilizer, I don't necessarily consider this an endorsement of it. I did use it on my lawn but haven't really seen the results yet. So I don't really feel it's appropriate (yet) to recommend it.
Scotts Starter Fertilizer is made by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. According to their "about" page:
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG) is the world's largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products, with a full range of products for professional horticulture as well. Scotts Miracle-Gro has helped to grow the nearly $7 billion global consumer lawn and garden market through product innovation, industry-leading advertising efforts and its trusted brands.
I did find something that was a little more warm and fuzzy, but still the main focus is on their size, profits, & famous brands.
When my father, Horace, founded Miracle-Gro in 1951, he couldn't have envisioned how the consumer lawn and garden industry would grow into a leading outdoor leisure activity and a nearly $7 billion global business. That's probably even more true for O.M. Scott, who started The Scotts Company in 1868. Neither could they have imagined the future success of this company. Today, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is the world's leading lawn and garden company with trusted brands in every category in which we compete.
Scotts Miracle-Gro US brands include Scotts, Miracle-Gro, Osmocote, Ortho, Scotts Lawn Service, and Smith & Hawken (?!??), which they acquired in 2004. Their international brands include KB, Weedol, Levington, Pathclear, Evergreen, and Substral. And just to warm the very cockles of my Monsanto-hating heart, they are "Monsanto's exclusive agent
of Satan for the international marketing and distribution of consumer Roundup."
Taking a VERY deep breath and moving along…..The Scotts ingredient listing says:
Derived from: methyleneurea, ammonimum phosphate and potassium chloride. *Contains 4.5% slowly available methyleneurea and dimethylenetriurea nitrogen.
Um, my spell checker does not recognize those words. Also, I am unable to type them without going very slowly and staring at the bag at the same time. (Try it yourself.)
Please note: You can pretty much tell that this is not an endorsement of Scotts fertilizer so I don't need to add a qualifier. I guess I really don't have anything else to say about these ingredients. Except perhaps…WTF?
Sorry for the long & meandering post…it's been one of those mornings.