I’ve been getting a version of this email a lot in the past two weeks:
I want to start your fertilization schedule, but I need to know if it’s safe for my dogs. I know you’re an animal lover, and I don’t think you would recommend products unsafe for them, but there’s scary information on the internet about ill effects on animals from synthetic fertilizers. Please advise! ~ Sarah R., Baytown
Yes, I am an animal lover. That’s my pup, Mr. Snuggles (Snugz), above. In fact, I probably could’ve, would’ve, should’ve been a veterinarian. I went to Texas A&M University thinking that’s what I wanted to study. As it turned out, though, I didn’t want to be in school as long as a medical doctor for statistically less pay.
But I would never put out anything I didn’t trust to be safe for my pets … or for my kids. I can assure you that the products on my fertilization schedule, are perfectly safe for dogs to romp on, especially after you water it in. That’s the most important thing to remember – once watered in. But even if a prill (fertilizer morsel) of this or that gets on a dog’s paw pad, and he or she licks it off, it is not going to negatively affect the animal.
In fact, all the fertilizers on my schedule are made of materials found in common livestock feeds — urea-based nitrogen, potash, and phosphorous.
Let me reiterate: They feed that stuff to cows, pigs and chickens! Next time you hear someone say, “I just don’t want to use chemicals,” keep in mind that those ingredients are also part of human DNA. You are made up of chemicals, and I am made up of chemicals.
Secondly, Sarah and everyone else, don’t be misled by some information on the internet. Look for actual facts, data and research … skip inflammatory statements aimed at boosting a specific cause – for example, “going all organic.” If someone makes a grandiose statement such as “fertilizers kill soil microbiology,” they’d better have some empirical research to back up the claim. I forget which TV show I heard that on, but it so applies in this case.
That statement may have been true years ago, when some fertilizers included the substance anhydrous ammonia. But no one uses anhydrous ammonia anymore, and it’s not in any of the products on my fertilization schedule.
I will admit that nitrogen-only fertilizers aren’t doing anything to help soil fertility. But there are instances (not permanent, mind you) when we need that kind of fertilization temporarily to rid ourselves of burr grass.
The simple fact is this: While organic fertilizers are better than synthetic fertilizers in helping to build up organic material in soil, you can super-exceed that microbial buildup with a compost top-dressing or the consistent use of soil activators. Then you can stick to the synthetic fertilization schedule that has been used successfully for years in Southeast Texas and beyond.
But if you’re still concerned about dogs, children and synthetic fertilization, I do have an organic schedule.
And I’m fine with going organic, especially when you have kids. But there’s a rich irony with most organic fertilizers and dogs. They go nuts for poultry-based fertilizers and will dig through yards and snoot around so they can munch on the stuff.