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I discovered there are bottled off-the-shelf liquid nutricient mixtures available to buy. Is there some special factor in them (a.k.a. secret magic) or is this just mumbo-jumbo and there are just basic plant nutritions in different quantities?

  • the primary macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K)
  • the three secondary macronutrients: calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg)
  • the micronutrients/trace minerals: boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni)

Not to mention super dumb names "ORGATREX","Magic Green", "Amino Root", "Root Complex" etc.

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They're just different formulations, in both quantity and ingredients, and used differently, of the basic elements plants require. That doesn't mean, however, that they might not be useful - Orgatrex is used often in hydroponic growing, but for general use in the garden or for potted plants, the most important thing to note is the N-P-K. There's usually a readout for those (and if there isn't, I'd suggest not buying the product) along the lines of, for a general purpose fertilizer such as Growmore 7-7-7, showing that it's balanced. If you're growing tomatoes in pots, then a specialist tomato food will have a completely different N-P-K, usually with a high potassium level. Miracle Gro General Purpose has a much higher N than any other ingredient, so depending on what you're growing, especially in pots, a choice should be made regarding the elements your plants will particularly need.

As for something like Magic Green, that's a foliar feed, and I was unable to establish what the NPK readout was.

  • There are a few ingredients that seem to be neglected by many gardeners and growers, Iron and calcium. These two nutrients are used by the plants to help absorb the other all importan nutrients. Fruit bearing plants and trees especially need lots of calcium. Without iron, a plant can appear to be deficient in any number of nutrients even if they are available. Without the iron plants aren't able to take up nutrients that are available to them and wouldn't need the boost in NPK other than through natural composting. – Escoce Jan 13 '16 at 19:58
  • @Escoce - the calcium thing; usually, the problem is insufficient or erratic water supply, which disables the plant from taking up enough calcium, rather than a shortage in the soil itself, though it depends on the soil in a particular region. – Bamboo Jan 15 '16 at 14:05
  • true, except in fruit bearing situation. If you are harvesting lots of fruit, the calcium really needs to be replaced, which is easily done with composting. So long as you compost your eggshells you should have plenty of free calcium in the soil. – Escoce Jan 15 '16 at 14:17
  • @Escoce - I know that in orchards they do supplement calcium, but if you're just growing one fruit tree in the average garden, there shouldn't be an issue. – Bamboo Jan 15 '16 at 14:24
  • well I guess it really depends on your soil as well. Using an apple as an example, the difference between a nice crisp and juicy Apple vs one that is soft and grainy and suitable only for apple sauce is calcium (as well as other nutrients, but calcium being the principle one for this example) – Escoce Jan 15 '16 at 14:28

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