Feeding Time

Spring is feeding time and it’s worth going around the borders with a bucket of fertiliser now, so plants start the season topped up with the nutrients they need.

In most cases there’s no need to buy separate fertilisers for different plants – an economy-sized bag of general purpose fertiliser will do.  Sprinkle a light dressing on soil around your shrubs, evergreens, roses, climbers and perennials and lightly fork it in (preferably before you mulch).  Treat areas where you plan to grow bedding plants in the same way.

The multitude of fertilisers available can be confusing, but are basically split into two types – inorganic and organic.  Inorganic fertilisers are synthetic, and are usually more concentrated and faster acting.  Organic fertilisers are derived from plant or animal sources and are usually slower acting.  Fish Blood & Bone, Bone meal, Seaweed, Hoof & Horn, Poultry Manure Pellets and Liquid Comfrey or Nettle feeds are all examples of organic fertilisers.

TurfMaster SB-4300RD 34Kg Broadcast Spreader
Photo: TurfMaster SB-4300RD 34Kg Broadcast Spreader

Lawns need a good feed to set them up for the summer as a healthy lawn helps to fight off weeds and moss.  Wait until early May if you live in a cold area or it’s a late spring with bad weather (you don’t want all that lush new growth clobbered by freezing weather).  Products that combine a fertiliser with a weed or moss treatment are time-saving, and choose one with slow-release nutrients for long lasting effect. Lawn products can be applied by hand or with a spreader.

Camellia Williamsii 'Anticipation' - Waitrose Garden
Photo: Camellia Williamsii ‘Anticipation’ – Waitrose Garden

Plants that do need a specialist feed are acid-lovers such as rhododendrons, camellias, pieris and azaleas, unless they’re being grown in acid soil.  In the fruit garden, blueberries also fall into this category.  Signs of nutrient deficiency are leaf-yellowing and discolouration.

As a general rule, the faster growing the plant the more they will benefit from fertilisers, so it’s important to feed your fruit and vegetables regularly. Plants in containers also need regular feeding as they rely solely on what you give them.