type of fertiliser?
If plants are to grow well, you must add nutrients
– nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in
particular – to replace those they draw
from the soil. Such nutrients can be provided
to some extent by organic matter, such as manure
or compost, or in the concentrated form of dry
or liquid fertilisers, which can be either organic
or inorganic chemical compounds. Organic fertilisers
come from the decay of living organisms –
as in manure, compost, or blood, fish and bone
– and ‘feed’ the soil, which,
in turn, feeds the plants. Inorganic compounds,
which occur naturally in mineral deposits or are
produced synthetically in the form of chemical
fertilisers, are not derived from living organisms,
and feed the plants directly. They do not replace
organic matter in the soil; unless used in moderation
and with organic matter, the organisms within
the soil die, the structure of the soil breaks
down, and the ground becomes impoverished.
TO USE FERTILISERS.
Nitrogen encourages leaf growth, phosphorus helps
plants to form good root systems and potassium
will benefit flowers. Fertiliser containers are
marked with the letters N for nitrogen, P for
phosphorus and K for potassium, and each is followed
by a number indicating the percentage of the nutrient
in the fertiliser. Fertilisers are available with
the emphasis on the relevant nutrient needed for
the specific encouragement of foliage, roots or
flowers and fruit. For example, N-6%, P-6%, K-10%
indicates a high potassium content and is used
for flowering or berried plants.
Base fertilisers are high in phosphorus and potassium
and are added to the soil before planting to encourage
root formation and sturdy growth. General fertilisers
used as a top dressing are applied around growing
plants and lightly forked into the surface as
a stimulant during the growing season. One of
the most popular fertiliser formulas, Growmore,
containing equal percentages (7% by weight) of
nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, will encourage
Liquid fertilisers can be applied to the soil,
or sprayed on the leaves of plants. They have
varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium,
and are absorbed more quickly than dry fertilisers.
They are useful during rainless periods, as dry
fertilisers need moisture in the soil to dissolve.
To fertilise ornamental borders organically, mulch
annually with well-rotted manure or compost, top
dress with blood, fish or bone fertiliser in early
spring, and apply a dressing of composted seaweed
every three years.
MULCHING – adding
a final touch.
Mulching adds a top dressing of organic material
to conserve moisture and condition the soil. Pulverised
and composted bark, fully decomposed garden compost
or any other organic material can be used. Spread
a layer 2-3in deep for the best results. Apply
mulches only when the ground is moist, otherwise
the soil beneath will stay dry unless there are
long periods of heavy rain. Don’t mulch
too early in the year or you will prevent the
soil from warming up.