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The Perils of Sulfate of Ammonia
It does more harm than good
On the surface, sulfate of ammonia (21-0-0) looks like a great product. It can make grass turn green in a matter of days. It can stimulate growth on poor performing plants, and it makes gardeners look good when their clients complain about a poor landscape and the yard looks wonderful a week later. Best of all, the product is dirt cheap to use for both gardener and homeowner.

But a month later, the grass or plant starts to yellow again, looking for its sulfate of ammonia "fix" which it needs to support its new dependency. And because the roots were not fed along with the foliage, they cannot support the rampant top growth above them, and slowly the plant or lawn weakens and declines. Over time, a build up of salts which are a chemical by-product of ammonium sulfate start to turn the pH of the soil alkaline, further adding to the stress the lawn or plant is experiencing. Adding to one's woes is the fact that insects and disease just love that tender foliage created by this unbalanced product when it softens the cell structure of the plant.

Unfortunately, a garden columnist form our local paper (who should know better) has become infatuated with sulfate of ammonia, claiming it will cure almost any ailment a plant or lawn might have; and that it is the only food a garden needs. In the process he is misleading frustrated consumers who mistakenly take his extremely poor advice.

Worse yet, many homeowners have burned or killed their plants or lawns by accidentally over-applying this product. Because it is unbalanced and temperature sensitive, it has no buffer for the plants, leaving no room for error when applying. The warmer the outdoor temperature gets, the faster it releases, the higher chance of burn or death.

Contrary to that columnist's personal opinion, our local soil is not the best around. Plants need balanced feedings of nutrients along with minerals and trace elements at regular intervals, preferably in an organic slow-release form. This they can only receive from a balanced fertilizer such as Dr. Earth ( a plug for a great product) which also contains beneficial microbes. In this way you not only feed the plants but also the soil. My staff and I are so concerned with the poor advice by this columnist and what we believe to be an inferior garden product that we felt compelled to speak out.

At Almaden Valley Nursery we have been providing homeowners with plant advice for more than 33 years. We are staffed with certified garden experts that stay up-to-date and are aware of the latest plant and product improvements in the nursery industry. We care about your garden needs and hate to see you misled.

Written by:
Matt Lepow, Owner, CCNPro, B.S. Ornamental Horticulture

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