Buy the best fertiliser for whatever you grow
We are not trying to sell you a range of fertilisers, merely attempting to show the best type to buy because a good product will help to give your crops/flowers etc. a boost, and knowing what sort of fertiliser to use (not which make) may make the difference between a good crop and a poor one.
So take a look at your soil and think about what you have added to it over the years to make it better, and unless you are a keen gardener I bet the answer is “not a lot”, which may explain why you are only getting poor to average crop yields.
I most firmly believe that if you have a little space in your garden, and just a wee bit of time you can make a perfectly good compost area, the results of which can be dug into your soil in the Autumn. But you may need more than that in terms of the three major nutrients your garden needs so much.
Those nutrients are:
nitrogen, in a form such as nitrate;
phosphorus, as soluble phosphate;
and potassium, in the form of potash
These major nutrients can be found in natural products such as garden compost and animal manures, or they can be man-made fertilisers which you buy from garden centres, shops etc. These are often referred to as ‘NPK’ or, more correctly, as N:P2O:K2O (nitrogen, phosphate and potassium), because the ratio between them is as important as the absolute amounts (something I have never got to grips with).
Well rotted organic matter, such as garden compost or manure, will build up soil fertility over the long term rather than feeding the plants directly, and when we say, “well rotted” we mean just that as using fresh manure to where you are planting or have just planted will most probably burn your tender seedlings.
Animal manures can also feed the soil with nutrients, but there are now concerns over their use due to farm herbicide contamination, so check sources and store and apply with care but, yes, over the years we have had some very strange plants growing from piles of horse manure but my view is that if it hasn’t hurt the horse it won’t hurt me and mine.
Slow release fertiliser
Fertiliser is also on sale as plant feed/food or even as plant tonic, but we must always remember that fertilisers are a more concentrated form of nutrients, often made in a factory, either from inorganic chemicals or derived from organic (once living) materials. An example of the latter is Basalt rock dust which I have recently started to use whenever possible.
But Basalt rock dust is not really a fertiliser even though it contains lots of trace elements and minerals which have been trapped in it up to 400 million years ago. I tend to use slow release fertilisers such as Miracle Gro continuous plant food during the Autumn and Winter as by doing that it allows the nutrients to mix into the soil nicely by planting time in Spring. If anything else is needed you can always top dress your spoil with a “quick fix” of blood/fish & bone to speed up your seedlings’ growing process.
Be aware though that fertilisers come in both granule and liquid form, and for slow release the obvious choice are granules every time