Family DIY A fertiliser is classed as anything that supplies nutrients to a plant. We dig compost (or any organic materials), into the soil to improve its structure and air circulation. This also aids water retention and provides the soil with living orga
Growing from scraps
If you're a garden-lover, or you're keen to become one, getting to know your fertilisers is key. Fertilisers are classed as organic or inorganic, and most gardeners choose to use a mixture of the two. Organic fertilisers are composed of plant or animal by-products and are considered sustainable and safe to use. Sheep pellets, fish manures, blood and bone, seaweed, bone meal, and dried blood are the most common organic fertilisers available. Inorganic fertilisers are manufactured, or sometimes refined from natural sources. Always spread the fertiliser evenly – dumping it in plies will cause fertiliser burn to the foliage. Side dressing is the practice of applying fertiliser to the soil during the growing season. Spread it around the plant or alongside a row. Lightly rake or fork it in to the soil and then water. Always water the fertiliser after you have applied it. It needs to get into the soil to do its work, not dry up on the surface. For the busy gardener, apply fertiliser just before it rains. Liquid fertilisers’ nutrients are absorbed by the plant through the leaves as well as the roots. Remember that no amount of fertiliser will fix a plant that is in the wrong place – either growing in poorly-prepared soil or under stress with too much or not enough water. Blood and bone is good to use around vegetables at time of planting, and during the growing season as a side dressing. Keep a diary – it is easy to forget when, what and where you have applied fertiliser. Make your own liquid fertiliser Comfrey is a useful herb that serves many purposes. Some gardeners call it a nuisance plant as it spreads rapidly, but the leaves are potassium and nitrogen-rich, making a great liquid feed. • Make this away from the house as it does smell a little. • Fill a mesh bag (like an onion sack), with comfrey leaves and tie up the bag. Using a container with a lid, drop the bag in, fill with the container water, and close the lid. Let it sit for 10 days. You might want to dilute it with water, depending on the strength of your brew. Use to feed the whole vegetable garden.