Things that Work: Essential®, 0-0-21 Liquid Potassium, and More
With ever-improving technologies and environmental changes, it’s more important than ever for green industry professionals to stay up-to-the-moment on nutrition research, bio-controls, and innovative ways to use familiar products. One person who understands this well is Chris Ruske, a 4th generation nurseryman, who is the younger half of the father-son duo who own Cumberland Nurseries, LLC. Located in Millville, New Jersey, Cumberland specializes in ornamental shrub liner production with an emphasis on one-gallon containers and cell trays.
The liner operation covers 70 acres, and focuses on natives and deer-resistant ornamentals -- all items for which consumer demand is very high.
All the propagation at Cumberland Nurseries is done in-house. For the last ten to twelve years, Chris has relied on Growth Products’ Essential Plus® 1-0-1 Soil Amendment and Root Stimulator as part of the nurseries’ propagation routine. Chris typically does a quick soak – just dipping the cutting or plant into an Essential® mixture – although with harder-to-root plants he also may do an over-the-top ‘sprench.’”
Why Essential®? Prior to adding Essential® to its propagation routine, Cumberland Nurseries tried a number of products that claimed to be similar, and the nursery also conducted side-by-side tests comparing Essential® with other biostimulants. There was only one product about which Chris could say, “This stuff actually works” -- and that product was Essential®.
“We still find Essential® to be very beneficial and effective in promoting root growth,” Chris explains, “and using Essential® allows us to be a little more flexible with our schedule, it gives us a little more leeway.”
Another Growth Products formula on which Chris relies is 0-0-21 Liquid Potassium. A crystal-clear solution, 0-0-21 contains 25% soluble potash derived from potassium carbonate. Like potassium carbonate, 0-0-21 is a safe and efficient K source with an extremely low salt index.
Chris uses it to quickly correct any potassium deficiencies in his one-gallon liners and appreciates its ability to rapidly bring up his water and soil pH levels. “Our well water is very acidic and our soil checks in with a pH of about 4.5. Unless we take corrective action, you can easily see the effects of pH suppression in the plants,” he says.
For a number of years Chris searched for an answer to his pH problem. He wanted a way to raise the pH without having to use cumbersome quantities of materials such as lime. He hadn’t found a satisfactory answer until Growth Products suggested 0-0-25 Liquid Potassium. With an alkaline pH of 12, the solution works wonders to raise the pH and is easy and convenient to use. As Chris says, “one of the best parts of using 0-0-25 is that I don’t have to use a lot of product to get the job done.”
Another thing that works, no matter who you are what you do, is an education. Chris, who has a degree in Plant Science from the University of Delaware, likes to say that a good education teaches a person to ask questions. “That’s very important in running a nursery, because things are changing all the time,” he explains. As an example, he notes that people now know how to kill the “easy” weeds, and more problematic herbicide-resistant weeds are now a major concern.
Continuing education – be it through membership in professional associations or trade shows such as MANTS (Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show) where Chris recently made a presentation, or simply by posing questions to technical reps from industry-leading companies – is also important. “A good technical rep is worth his or her weight in gold,” Chris says. “They have up-to-date information and are willing to share it.”
With thanks to Growth Products for this informative article.