Keep your garden flourishing and healthy. Here's your simple guide to fertilising.

Woman picking lettuce growing in community garden

It is incredibly important that you fertilise your garden at the right times of year to ensure that your garden stays healthy and productive. Plants need a number of nutrients to grow well, and different plants will need different amounts and types of fertiliser.

If you prefer to use organic fertilisers like animal manures (and we certainly recommend that you do), research what is best for your vegetables. Blood and bone is a slow-release fertiliser; cow manures provide great organic matter but lower ratios of nutrients; sheep and poultry manures are more condensed as they are usually provided in pellet form, which is also a good slow-release option (they are too strong when fresh).

There are also liquid fertilisers, either commercially produced or your own liquid fertiliser teas (nettle and comfrey are good fertilising teas). Nearly all will need to be diluted before application as they can be really strong.

For this activity you will first need to decide on which plants you are fertilising, which fertiliser you should use and what quantities are required.

Equipment

What to do

  • 1. Read the instructions on your fertiliser, or if it is an organic fertiliser like animal manure decide how much you need to apply per square metre. Work out how to measure this.

  • 2. Pelletised and granular fertilisers, including pelletised chicken and sheep manure:

    • Always use gloves when applying fertiliser.
    • Work out how much to apply by weighing out the recommended dose per square metre.
    • Then work out how many handfuls this equates to.
    • Gently and evenly scatter the correct number of handfuls of fertiliser over the surface of the soil of the first square metre.
    • Try not to leave the fertiliser sitting too close to the stems of plants, or on the leaves of plants that might be touching the ground, as it could burn them.
    • Repeat for all the square metre areas in your garden bed.
    • Water the area well.

  • 3. Manures:

    • Always use gloves when applying fertiliser.
    • Using a garden fork, gradually spread the manure over the surface of the garden bed to a depth of about 5 cm.
    • Try not to leave the manure sitting too close to the stems of plants, or on the leaves of plants that might be touching the ground, as it could burn them.

  • 4. Liquid fertilisers and homemade fertiliser teas:

    • Measure the amount of liquid tea you require into a measuring jug and pour it into the watering can.
    • Dilute with water to the recommended amount.
    • Apply to the ground around the drip line of the plants.

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