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An Aperitif for Your Plants

April 01, 1999|ROBERT SMAUS

Next time you go to dinner at a gardener's home, bring your host a fine bottle of . . . fertilizer. Daniels Plant Food, which contains a balance of nutrients sure to add a rosy glow to their favorite plants, comes packaged like a bottle of zinfandel, though a screw cap hides under the foil wrapper. It has a color similar to that of zinfandel, and a pleasant bouquet. The packaging, according to Daniels, "is designed to address the marketing needs of the most upscale garden centers and retailers." But should it be cellared?

Actually, it's ready to use, a liquid that requires no mixing. Simply add one teaspoon to a quart of water. Despite the packaging, it is a serious fertilizer, even used by commercial nurseries. It's based on soy seeds, which add many trace fertilizer elements such as iron and calcium. It contains no fertilizer salts and no nitrates, which often build up to toxic levels in our arid soils, and with a high level of nitrogen (the first figure in that 10-4-3 formulation on the label), it follows the University of California's findings that what plants mostly need in California is nitrogen.

It's available at many independent nurseries, such as Hortus in Pasadena, and will soon be available at Armstrong Garden Centers.

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