previous
  • NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
    NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
  • Go Green on the Patio
    Go Green on the Patio
  • DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
    DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
  • Black Plants Done Right
    Black Plants Done Right
  • 3 Ways to Design with Containers
    3 Ways to Design with Containers
  • Plant Finder: Spring Plants
    Plant Finder: Spring Plants
  • Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
    Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
  • Garden Design Basics
    Garden Design Basics
  • Building Better Borders
    Building Better Borders
  • Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
    Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
  • Rex Begonias
    Rex Begonias
  • Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
    Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
  • 10 Seed-Starting Tips
    10 Seed-Starting Tips
  • How to Grow Mustard
    How to Grow Mustard
  • Homegrown / Homemade
    Homegrown / Homemade
  • Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
    Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
  • Pick Plants for Fragrance
    Pick Plants for Fragrance
  • Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
    Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
  • 10 Combinations for Shade
    10 Combinations for Shade
  • Using Containers as Elements of a Design
    Using Containers as Elements of a Design
  • Planting the Right Way
    Planting the Right Way
  • 20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
    20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
next

Using leftover fertilizer

Q: I moved into my new house, I found that the previous owner had left several half-used bags of fertilizer in the garage. Does fertilizer go bad over time? If it is not safe to use, how would I dispose of it?

Barbara Carlstrom, Beacon, NY

A: Contributing editor Lee Reich responds: Chemically, fertilizer does not go bad over time. It might, however, cake up and become hard to spread. Breaking it up with a screwdriver and hammer should solve this problem. 

If you decide to use it, check the label to see if weed killer is included in the fertilizer, as it often is. In that case, you have to be more selective where you use it, if at all, to avoid damaging plants. It is possible that weed killer in a fertilizer could degrade over time, but it would be hard to tell how much. 

If the label is no longer legible, it is impossible to know the proper way to use the fertilizer. In that case, contact your local recycling center, which should have regularly scheduled dropoff days for hazardous materials.

From Fine Gardening 83, pp. 76