skip to Main Content
Shovel holding fertilizer

The Enviro-Educator: Learning to Live with Less Fertilizer

The following information was obtained from the Tampa Bay Times article written by CR Bowden and published July 20, 2021.

(Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith wants to revisit a proposed fertilizer ban that didn’t pass more than a decade ago. Smith said she would ask the rest of the commission to pass an ordinance to prohibit application of Nitrogen fertilizers across Hillsborough County during Florida’s rainy season.)

Algae Blooms in our lakes and Red Tide in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are reasons enough for many Florida county and city commissioners to place bans on fertilizer.

The culprit is Nitrogen and Phosphorous which are the first two numbers on a bag of fertilizer. June 1 through Sept 30 are the restrictive months for fertilizer with these two elements. Some counties are thinking of extending these months especially after the last couple years of devastating Red Tide. Depending on the county/city, other fertilizers who’s first two numbers are OO, can be used during the rainy months. Between Oct 1 and May 31, fertilizer can be used only if it has a 50 % nitrogen slow rate. It is best to check with your local municipalities because the fines for improper fertilizing can be quite steep.

Also, it is important to emphasize that these fertilizer restrictions do not apply to the agriculture industry. They are governed differently and have their own mandates they must follow when growing crops and dealing with animal waste.

Fertilizing in the summer with the amount of rain that comes down is a waste of time and money.

The summer rains are hard, so the fertilizer gets washed away rather then washed into the ground. If you are having fertilizer withdrawals during a rare summer drought, try using another kind of fertilizer with iron and some other micronutrients that won’t wreak havoc on the environment.

Fertilizing in the winter could be curtailed as well. Nothing wrong with having a dry, slightly browning yard. Many plants, including lawns, remain dormant in the winter, and will come back as green as ever as soon as the rains start. This last spring, we had very little rain for over six weeks. Horse and cow pastures in the area were looking like they would soon go to sand. Those same pastures are now Emerald green, they survived the drought just fine without watering or fertilizing.

What is better than fertilizer?

Manure of course. Most any livestock manure that is composted will be perfect for your yard and plants. Keystone is blessed with many beautiful horse farms. Many of the horses are stalled for most of the day and that creates a lot of manure and soiled bedding. Places like PRO Inc, will take your manure and compost it and then sell it. Many smaller farms will compost their own manure. If you are interested in composting, make sure your fresh manure is placed on concrete or clay to catch the leachate run off. Leachate is the brownish liquid that leaches from the solid manure and can drain into ground water.

Lastly, dog and cat manure does not compost well, which is a good thing since the smell is so bad. Always pick up after your dog and throw the feces into the garbage. The more that goes into the garage the less that goes into our ground and surface water.

Remember, always work with nature instead of against her.

September 2021
1. Aug 2021 Ice Cream Social
2. Common Tree Owner Questions and Concerns
3. The Enviro-Educator: Learning to Live with Less Fertilizer
4. Old Fashion Fun
5. Livestock Registration Program
6. What is Greenbelt?