Food, feeding, fertiliser – and chickens!
When the weather warms up, we get hungrier. And this goes for garden plants as well. They come out of their winter slumber (or dormancy) and need to start feeding – straight away. So, if you are ever going to spread a little fertiliser over the garden, now is the time to do it!
There are three main plant nutrients, and each is essential for the development of a certain part of a plant.
Nitrogen (N), for example, is responsible for leaf and stem growth. It is vital to nearly all plants in the early stages of growth. It is essential to leaf crops (lettuce, cabbage, spinach and so on). Westland’s Bone Meal is an ideal source of nitrogen, used when planting.
The other two essential plant nutrients are: phosphorus (P, usually referred to as phosphate), responsible for root growth; and potassium (K, usually known as potash), for flower and fruit production.
This early in the season I like to give everything a general feed, but with a slightly higher level of nitrogen. This way you encourage good leaf and top growth, which photosynthesises in the sunlight, and gives a plant the best chance of succeeding as the season progresses.
In the past few years I have developed an affection for … poultry manure! Sold in dried and pelleted form, it is a brilliant, non-chemical fertiliser.
Westland Organic Chicken Manure Pellets is a useful source of nitrogen, and also contains smaller amounts of other important nutrients. It is a slow-release feed, meaning that it nourishes the soil over a long period, and this is the best way to prolong the life of garden plants. I’ll be applying it to all areas of my garden this coming weekend.
Final tip: Poultry manure pH (acidity or alkalinity) varies according to the diet fed to the birds, the age of the birds, the litter materials used, and the age of the manure itself. It tends to be in the range of pH 6.5-8.0 (neutral to moderately alkaline). Therefore it is particularly good for alkaline-loving plants (such as peas, strawberries, leeks, grapes, garlic, blackcurrants, clematis, buddleja, lavender and many more) but less valuable to lime-hating (ericaceous) plants, such as rhododendrons, heathers, camellias and blueberries.
After all that talk about plant food, I’m beginning to feel a bit hungry myself!