SARASOTA, FLA. -- Everyone loves beautiful lush landscaping and green grass, but using fertilizer products that contain nitrogen and phosphorous during the summer months is banned by county ordinances along the Suncoast.
“Cause when it rains a lot, all your fertilizers that you put down on your lawns, on plants, will leach in the ground water or will leach into surrounding bodies of water which will bring up nitrogen and phosphorous levels which algae blooms love and fish and aquatic organisms cant take,” says Alex Barth, a horticulturist at Your Farm and Garden Supply on Beneva Road
Red Tide is probably the best known algae bloom and is responsible for fish kills every summer. The nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer ban officially begins Sunday, June 1st and runs through September 30 in an effort to protect our local resources and bodies of water.
“They consider it the raining season ban,” says Barth. He also says there are healthy alternatives to fertilizers his customers can use during the ban.
“There's things like Super Thrive which is like a plant stimulator," he says. "It is like a vitamin solution for plants that stimulate root growth and overall vigor of plants.”
Ruth Pitts is an organic gardener and is glad county governments restrict use of fertilizers that can be harmful to the environment.
“Our grandparents, it is how they gardened," she says. "My grandmother was a gardener and they ate, my mother, my grandmother, that family, they ate all organic vegetables. They did it so we should be able to do it too.”
Fertilizers with nitrogen and phosphorous are available for sale all year long at retail stores. The retailers are required to inform you about the ban from June to September and every label includes number which represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorous and phosphate each fertilizer contains.
In Sarasota County, violating the fertilizer ban can lead to civil penalties. After a warning notice the first offense is a $100 fine, second offense is a $300 fine and each additional offense is $500.