How to buy the best fertiliser Fertiliser for the vegetable garden
Well-rotted organic matter, such as garden compost, will improve the soil and contribute to its fertility over the long term. Organic gardening is really about feeding the soil over the long term rather than applying fertilisers to plants. However, you will find organic fertilisers available to buy and it is worth comparing them, as usefulness and costs vary.
Fertilisers will be needed if you want to grow vegetables in a soil that is low in nutrients, for example a sandy soil. Also, most gardens cannot produce sufficient organic matter for the vegetable plot. Heavy feeders that will require fertiliser include brassicas (such as cabbages, Asian greens, broccoli, kale) and maincrop potatoes. If you grow vegetables in containers they will definitely need plant food, usually supplied as a liquid feed, as the plants are fast-growing.
Use fertilisers responsibly by following the instructions on the packet. In particular, do not be tempted to add extra or to apply nitrogen fertilisers when plants are not growing, as nitrates can be washed out of the soil by rain and contribute to water pollution. Grouping together plants that have similar fertiliser needs is efficient and is one of many reasons to follow a crop rotation.
Growmore is a balanced fertiliser and a cheap all-rounder. However, it is fast acting, so the dose needs spreading over the season. Look out for versions with extra slow-release fertiliser added.
An alternative general fertiliser is pelleted chicken manure. The dry pellets are easier to apply than powder or granules, and perhaps more environmentally friendly than artificial fertilisers as you're using a waste product. A tub of chicken manure pellets can be used as an all-round fertiliser on both ornamental borders and vegetable beds.
Many of the traditional fertilisers, based around processed waste products, such as bone meal for phosphate, blood, fish and bone, have fallen out of favour for various reasons.
The most widely sold liquid feed is tomato feed, which is high in potash to encourage lots of fruit. Tomato feed can also be used for any fast-growing flowering or fruiting crop.