“What is this ‘Sweet Green’ you speak of so highly?”
That was a question I received in an email from someone who had, for years, used only a poultry-based fertilizer on his lawn.
What he likely heard was one of my endorsements for the product, which I’ve also said I use exclusively on my “back 40.”
Before I explain why it’s a game-changer in organic fertilizers, let me say I’m a huge fan of dancing with the one what brung you. In other words, If you’ve had success with poultry-based organic fertilizers - or alfalfa meal-based organic fertilizers or even national synthetic fertilizers - I’m not here twist your arm into making a change.
However, if you are interested in going organic with your lawn, I’m a huge fan of Nitro-Phos Sweet Green 11-0-4. In the 22 years I've been hosting GardenLine, I’ve never found another organic fertilizer that meets all three important criteria that would garner my endorsement. Many I have endorsed meet two of the three, but I will never endorse one that fails in all three.
First, I don’t want my fertilizer to smell bad! Second, it must be easy to use in a typical broadcast spreader. And, third, it needs to be cost-effective.
Most poultry-poo fertilizers smell bad, but they are also great at fertilizing just about anything, including the yard. The odor makes me gag. And when I have to fertilize an acre and a half, or even a typical 7,500 square foot yard, that requires a lot of walking behind a broadcast spreader, inhaling that smell.
It also has to be usable in a typical broadcast spreader. I can name at least a half-dozen manufacturers that, over the years, have pitched products to me that looked like rabbit food (and in some cases, rabbit poop). They could never be dispersed well in a broadcast spreader. Poultry-poo types do broadcast fairly well, but not as evenly as products with a uniform prill.
As for cost-effectiveness, most organic fertilizers don’t cover as much square footage per bag as do synthetic fertilizers. For example, the No. 1 synthetic fertilizer on my lawn care schedule covers 7,600 square feet. The average bag of alfalfa-meal organic fertilizer will take care of only about 3,500 square feet, and the average bag of poultry poo is good for about 2,000 square feet.
Sweet Green runs away from the pack in all three categories.
- It smells good
- It has a uniform prill for broadcast efficiency
- It covers 4,300 square feet per bag
You may be wondering why Sweet Green smells so sweet. Well, it is derived from molasses and sugar beets, and I think is smells like a combination of coffee and molasses. It also has the highest nitrogen content (the "11" in 11-0-4) of any available organic fertilizer. Previously, 8-2-4 was the highest among all-purposes fertilizers. There are some 9-0-0 organics ... nothing but nitrogen ... but I couldn't recommend those for my organic or synthetic fertilization schedules because, along the Gulf Coast, we still need potassium (the last number in the ratio) for cell wall protection and enforcement.
I’ve used the word “prill” a few times here. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s the uniform roundness of a fertilizer pellet. (See the top photo.) Since we use broadcast spreaders almost exclusively, a uniform prill is just flat-out easier to spread for ideal coverage. Anyone who has used fertilizers that look like rabbit food will back me up on this one.
Okay, so now you're asking, "Do I use it instead of Super Turf, or what?"
Yes! No! Maybe so! Does that clear it up for you?
Here’s why I use it exclusively on the back side of my property … my “back 40.” I need to fertilize more than 1.5 acres.I also want to keep it organic, because of all the kids, pets and wild animals that roam around my property. And since it takes a couple of hours to do that much acreage, I need those three attributes on a grand scale. I still use Nitro-Phos Super Turf 19-4-10 in the front yard, which is probably no more than 5,000 square feet. None of the kids or pets ever roam there. And that uniform prill is an added bonus in coverage.
You'll find Sweet Green 11-0-4 at almost any retailer that carries Nitro-Phos products. Or, they can order some and get it for you in less than a week.
Finally, let me emphasize that Nitro-Phos Sweet Green 11-0-4 is for the lawn. While it can be used for some trees and shrubs, it is not a fertilizer for vegetable gardens, fruit trees or flowering plants. They need significantly more balance and, in some cases, far more phosphorus (the middle number in a fertilizer ratio). That’s why I still endorse several poultry-poo and alfalfa-meal formulas. They are great all-purpose fertilizers for veggies, fruits and flowering plants.