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Every Saturday and Sunday morning from 6 to 10, GardenLine's Randy Lemmon answers listeners' questions on everything from aphids to zoysias. He's Houston's absolute expert on lawns and gardens, offering help to listeners both with and without "green thumbs."
Randy's a Texas Aggie who truly KNOWS plants and flowers. He explains them with ease and candor, and is as competent a "plant person" as there is. He studies, and he practices. He embraces "new methods" as well as the "old" ways of dealing with problems. Call for Randy's solution for your question ... 713-212-KTRH (5874).
Recently, I received an email from a listener asking if my fertilizer schedule is safe for dogs. We've always had dogs in the Lemmon household, so don't think for a minute I would suggest anything that would be dangerous for pets!
The products on my schedule, especially the fertilizers, are safe for dogs to romp on once watered in. The fertilizers are actually made from products found in common livestock feeds — urea-based nitrogen, potash, and phosphorous. They feed this stuff to cows, pigs and chickens. So, if a dog or cat gets some on its paws and licks it off, it's not going to hurt them.
If you're thinking, "I just don't want to use chemicals," you should know that the elements above are also part of human DNA — you and I are made up of such chemicals. Also remember that you can't believe everything you're told by the promoters of an agenda — like going "all organic." A claim such as "fertilizers kill soil microbiology" may have been true years ago, when there was an ill-conceived product around known as anhydrous ammonia. But no one uses that anymore, and it's not in any of the products that make up my fertilization schedule.
Soil scientists have studied such claims for years, and while there may be a salt element in some fertilizers that's supposed to have a negative effect on beneficial microbes, the fact is that "salt burn" is very temporary. Research shows that even if beneficial microbes are affected by salt for a brief moment, microbial activity is very quick to re-energize and repopulate the area.
If, however, you feel you absolutely must go organic because you don't want to use chemicals near cats or kids, I have an organic schedule RIGHT HERE! I'm fine with going organic, especially if you have small children. But ironically, if you use organic fertilizers because you have dogs, you'll find that they'll actually eat it! Dogs go nuts for poultry-based fertilizers, and they'll dig through yards and gardens to get to them.
Another irony for those who believe they're "going organic" by using Epsom salt: The fact is, Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate - an inorganic salt!
Here are some facts about my fertilization schedule at this time of year:
PHOTO: Dogs - Ian Britton Creative Commons License