Dr. Earth has a variety of fertilizer products specially blended for specific plants. For succulents of every kind the best formulation is the Dr. Earth cactus fertilizer called Root Zone. We use that for all our succulents of every kind. The following video answers some commonly asked questions about all the Dr. Earth fertilizer blends.
What is the best way to apply Dr. Earth fertilizer?
The best way to apply it is to broadcast it over the soil surface cultivate it into the soil four to six inches, but if you can’t do that, if it’s a very dense clay soil you can lightly scratch it in a couple of inches that’s fine. Now let’s say if you have an existing plant such as a camellia which is notorious for having a very strong surface root system that occupies the entire surface you can’t cultivate anything into the soil. When you’re dealing in situations like that what you can do in this case is simply broadcast the fertilizer on the surface. Keep it about six inches away from the trunk and then solve your customer an amendment, any kind of an organic mulch to cover the fertilizer. What they would do at that point to simply water the mulch down and that would be sufficient.
The whole idea is that the microbes need to be in direct contact with moisture in order for them to be viable and to break down the organic materials.
Dr. Earth Cactus Fertilizer and Other Blends
How many Dr. Earth products are there and how do they differ from one another?
Well we have 24 different items in many different sizes they differ basically in NPK and pH and at the rate at which they decompose. Some products we want them to work much more quickly than others so we source raw materials that we know will break down more quickly. Some products we want them to last for a much longer period of time in the soil. For instance our fruit tree fertilizer. So we use more recalcitrant materials that just decompose naturally much more slowly than other ingredients. But primarily it’s the NPK and the pH that determine the difference between all the different products.
How fast is fast when can I see noticeable results?
You can expect to see results within 9 to 14 days depending on soil temperature. This temperature dictates the availability of the nutrients simply because the microbes are temperature sensitive. Nine days on the warmer side and 14 days on the cooler side. Now the microbes work within the mesospheric temperature range which is between 45 degrees and 113 degrees soil temperature. Now at 45 degrees activity temperature sufficient for activity with each rise of 18 degrees activity doubles in the soil. So that’s the state 63 degrees the microbes are twice as active as they were at 45 and once again at 81 degrees there would be twice as active as they were at 63 degrees. So this is the temperature range and temperature ultimately dictates how fast the fertilizer works.
How much faster is Dr. Earth compared to traditional organic fertilizers?
Much faster, traditional organic fertilizers can take as long as 60 days or longer to break down in the soil. As I said earlier because we contain because we have included the beneficial microbes in our products it only takes nine to 14 days. So the answer is much ,much faster than traditional organic fertilizers.
Okay I noticed that there’s a date on the packages. Why do you have a date there
and what does it mean?
Well, first of all it’s a requirement by the State Department of Agriculture. But second, it’s to ensure that the numbers of microbes that were claiming do in fact exist up until that expiration date. Now let’s say the product sits on the shelf two, three, four, five years through a dormant state. Yes some will die off but the moment we take the fertilizer and we apply it to the soil now all we have to do is take our garden hose and water it down. What they do is they break dormancy at that point. The moment they break dormancy they began to multiply very quickly. Their quickly building their numbers up every four to six hours there’s a duplicate self. Now what that really means is if the product sits on the shelf for a long period of time it doesn’t matter. The only thing it does affect is in how quickly the fertilizer works. If you buy it before the expiration date the product works within 9 to 14 days. Hypothetically, let’s say if you buy it five years after the expiration date the product may work with an 11 to 16 days that’s all that means. It’s a technicality for the State Department of Ag just to ensure that we have the numbers were claiming in the package.
There are thousands of species of bacteria and fungi in the world. How did you arrive at the 7 Dr. Earth uses?
Now like you said, there are thousands and upon hundreds of thousands of different kinds of microbes that exist out there. They all have relatively similar functions but the seven that I’ve identified are the champions. Through years of research I know exactly what every single microbe does. Some address proteins; some address carbohydrates, some address lipids, tannins, fats.
I’ve also, we’ve also got a couple that specifically fixed nitrogen in the soil. One with a symbiotic relationship, one that’s a free soil borne bacteria. The whole idea is that these are the best performers that I’ve been able to identify in over 15 years in this business.
The NPK in Dr. Earth is much lower than most chemical fertilizers yet it costs more. How would you explain the difference to our customers?
Well, keep in mind that first of all organic fertilizers become a part of the soil. They don’t break down all at one time in the soil. Chemical fertilizers are available all at one time they’ll leak through the soil very quickly or they simply re-evaporate as nitrogen gas. Now, organic fertilizers work via the bacterial processes in the soil. That means that as they’re breaking down these complex organic molecules or simplifying them making them available for plant roots to absorb.
Now organic materials don’t break down all at one time. The microbes are constantly breaking these materials down, slowly little by little, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, week after week. There’s a slow release of nutrients in the soil. Now plants don’t need an abundance of NPK all at one time. There’s no such thing in nature as triple 20. There is such thing in nature as triple two or one two two or three two one. Keep in mind that these materials become a part of the soil and they break down very slowly. Numbers are insignificant when you’re dealing with organics. A triple 2 is just as potent as a triple 20 chemical because it doesn’t leak through the soil and it doesn’t go anywhere in the soil.
The nutrients and organic fertilizer are a hundred percent available unlike water soluble chemical fertilizers, because water soluble fertilizers tend to pass through the soil very quickly. Organic fertilizers become a part of the soil. So what this means is that the plants are absorbing one hundred percent of the lower and PK numbers that an organic fertilizer offers, as opposed to absorbing a much smaller percent of a chemical fertilizer which has very high NPK numbers. That’s the key difference between the two. All of the organic fertilizer will be made available for plant roots to absorb.
Milo I see that there’s a claim on Dr. Earth lawn fertilizer that it will control thatch. I’ve never seen this before in lawn fertilizer. What does it mean, how does it work?
Well, first of all let’s take a look at what thatch is. Thatch is un-decomposed organic detritus that was produced by the lawn in the first place. Fact is nothing more than un-decomposed stems, blades, stalins. Now why did thatch develop in the first place? Because there was no microbial activity in the soil to break down this organic material. The reason why we can make that claim on our package that it controls thatch build up is simply because the microbes in our products digest the thatch, they eat the thatch. So thatch which was once a bad thing now becomes a good thing because our fertilizer breaks down the thatch and converts it into a nutrient form that the living lawn can actually utilize and use for growing, phenomenal.
What if my dog or child ingests Dr. Earth fertilizer, what happens?
Well Dr. Earth is completely people and pets safe. It says that on all of our packaging. Now for us to claim that it’s people and pet safe it’s very highly regulated by the State Department of Agriculture. All the ingredients are either organic or completely natural, not a problem whatsoever.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Dr. Earth products and the Dr. Earth company.
Please check out our website drearth.net for more information or you could always call me directly. My name and phone number is on the side of every package that I manufacture.
Thank you very much for your support.
Our Summary: There were some very informative comments about fertilizing in general. There were also some very specific details about the Dr. Earth cactus fertilizer and other Dr. Earth products. We know many succulent growers that love the results from using the Dr. Earth succulent fertilizer called Root Zone. (The link goes to Part 2 of the Frequently Asked Questions.)