13 Sep 2011

How to Fertilise your Garden

Posted by bcsands

To grow well, plants need sun, water and soil – and every now and again a few extra nutrients. In particular, plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are easily delivered via a well-chosen, organic fertiliser.


The difference between fertilisers, compost and manure


Fertilisers are concentrated plant foods that contain similar nutrients to organic matter like composts and manures. Typically they are more concentrated than organic matter and act faster. They also often contain additional trace minerals that are beneficial to your garden. Usually packaged as granules or pellets, they are easy to distribute and can be measured accurately – over fertilising can be more dangerous to plants than under fertilising!


Organic matter has the advantage of improving the structure of the soil and it is difficult to over fertilise with it. However, it can be quite labor intensive to apply and some people find the smell of manure in the garden off putting. If your kids are playing soccer with clothes pegs on their noses, then you might like to try a non-manure fertiliser next time!


Common types of fertiliser


Blood and Bone

An organic fertiliser that can be dug into your soil to enrich it with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.


Dynamic Lifter

Another organic fertiliser rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.


Pelletised manures

Chicken manure can be pelletised, which makes it easier to use, but takes away the advantage of soil structure improvement.


Complete plant foods

These contain a wider range of nutrients than Blood and Bone, Dynamic Lifter or manures, because they add trace elements to the core fertiliser ingredients.


Slow release fertilisers


Slow release fertilisers are probably the easiest fertilisers to use. Packaged as concentrated pellets, you simply scatter them on the earth around your plants and leave them to release their nutrients over time.


Fertiliser for natives


Australian natives need special care when it comes to fertilisers. While non-native plants will need fertilisers that contain phosphorus, of which very little exists in Australian soils, our native plants are adapted to this soil. In fact, too much phosphorus can kill some common natives, including grevilleas, banksias and waratahs. Always fertilise native plants with a fertiliser especially designed for them.


Fertiliser for lawns


Lawns can suffer in our unforgiving climate, not to mention from constant mowing and constant use. Specialised lawn fertilisers are available to give your turf a boost. Make sure to use a fertiliser designed for your type of turf, for example for a buffalo grass or a couch. Some turfs, such as Sir Walter, have purpose-designed fertilisers designed to bring out the best in them. Apply a lawn fertiliser every two months during spring and summer, or as directed on the pack.


When you lay a new lawn, you need to take a different approach – a fertiliser for an established lawn could damage it. Lay your new turf on top of a good top soil mixed with manure and a few weeks later dress it with a good quality top dressing.



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