Yes. You worked it moderately and then used a lot of osmocote to fertilize. Why can't you use organics? If it is because of animal thievery you can dust your organics with habanero pepper powder or flakes. It is fun to watch a squirrel post habanero encounter.
Great to hear John! I'll start it on a foliar feed for a mos or so and see how it goes. I actually hadn't touched it since Peter Warren helped me style it in Aug. And it was growing mature foliage all fall and early spring. It reverted about the same time as the blight, the fall off the stand, and me putting a fair amt. of osmocote on. Lesson learned here, start MUCH slower
And you guessed it too, and just not animals, but rats...yuck! Life in the city of Chicago. Last yr., I tried putting them up, about 30, and all were gone in one day. Put bird netting on (at the time thinking it was birds), and chewed right thru that. Then I bought the plastic baskets, and they chewed thru that ...all eating every cake in 1 night! Liquid organics, fish emulsion, kelp, seaweed...are all so expensive I gave up on that. So I thought putting the osmocote in the baskets was a good idea in that I could remove whenever I want too. I tried putting up a 30"T fencing in the back, but they're able to climb anything.
I do have one last thing I'm going to try. Brian Van Fleet uses Plantone, an organic, and told me it doesn't attract critters in his yard. So a few dys ago I bought a bag and am going to make a very small batch and see how it goes. At your suggestion, a good one too, I'll make half with some Cayenne pepper.