Plants of­ten need a ex­tra boost, but when is best?

Amateur Gardening - - Contents -

BUY­ING plant food can be a carousel of con­fu­sion and mis­un­der­stand­ing, and not just be­cause there is an ev­er­ex­pand­ing range of prod­ucts avail­able.

What does NPK mean on the pack­ag­ing? Should I use liq­uid or gran­u­lar feeds (and what’s the dif­fer­ence?) and what part of the day should I ap­ply them – and how of­ten?

It is hardly sur­pris­ing that many peo­ple stick with the prod­ucts they – and pos­si­bly their par­ents and grand­par­ents – have used for years, even though brands re­lease new, im­proved and up­graded prod­ucts at the start of each sea­son.

In this is­sue of AG we aim to de­mys­tify the process of feed­ing your plants by talk­ing you through the dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, which fer­tilis­ers suit which plants, and the pros and cons of each one. We also look at the dan­gers of over-feed­ing and why you should stop feed­ing your plants well be­fore the end of sum­mer.

There are no ab­so­lutes when it comes to giv­ing your gar­den the nu­tri­tion it needs to per­form at its best. What works for one plant may be wrong for an­other; some plants find enough food in the poor­est soils, while oth­ers need con­stant top­ping up.

Don’t for­get that plants fail to thrive be­cause of fac­tors other than poor feed­ing. There may be prob­lems in the soil (fun­gus or vine wee­vil grubs de­stroy­ing their roots), they may need wa­ter­ing or they may sim­ply be in the wrong spot. Be­cause with all the good will and cor­rect feed­ing in the world, a plant that loves shade or needs acidic soil will not reach its full po­ten­tial with its roots in a sunny spot or in chalky soil.

Slow-re­lease cones are easy to use The range of plant foods avail­able can be in­tim­i­dat­ing to new (and ex­pe­ri­enced!) gar­den­ers

Yel­low leaves are a sign of nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency

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