Sunday, 27 April 2008

What plant food to use ? 27.04.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat - my guide to growing your own veg in Raised Beds.

Not a lot has changed since my update on Friday, suffice to say that my newly repotted Rhubarb crown seems to be settling into it's new home. After just a few days, there are a few new strong leaf shoots, which is very encouraging. Time will tell if this is going to survive, I hope it does !

As for the title of todays post "What plant food to use" ? A simple enough question but with a multitude of answers........

I recently purchased an old gardening book: "Growing for Cooking" by Violet Stevenson (ISBN 0 85685 016 0 ) 3rd Edition, published in 1973 by Marshall Cavendish, London.
It's a great book, and aimed directly at the kitchen gardener / small plot holder, and though somewhat old, is full of great information that is timeless in its content. And only 10p at the local car boot sale - What a bargain !

There's a great adage inside the opening chapter: "Treat your soil like a bank. If you keep withdrawing, you will be left with nothing. You have to put a little back occasionally, so that you can keep withdrawing" that is very true !

Bear this in mind as you dwell on the question of what to feed your plants with! Whenever I plant a new crop in the raised beds, I add some granular / slow release fertilizer at the same time, to aid the new planting. I also "top dress" the soil prior to planting, with a sprinkling of Blood Fish & Bone, as well as a new mulch layer to suppress the weeds and retain the moisture. This is me putting something back in as above. All things being equal, this gives the newly sown seeds / seedlings a good start in life - a healthy First supper you might say.

As the seedling grows on, its tempting to add yet more feed, but a little self restraint is called for here. Feeding time is usually marked by the setting of flowers ( Runner Beans, Peas, Broad Beans etc ) and there are a multitude of fertilizers out there to choose from . I used to use "Tomorite" on my toms, because everyone else did and they got great results. But hang on, this hasn't always been around, so what did people use before that ? My answer is a home made nettle tea - free of charge from mother nature, and effing good stuff too. Simply fill a bucket with nettle leaves, weigh down the contents with a brick, then fill with water. In a couple of weeks your brew will be ready to use. Apply straight to the soil, or dilute to use as a foliage spray. I used this all last year on my plot and was amazed at the results.
If you have a choice, you can also use Comfrey leaves instead of nettles, i heard this works well too.

So there you have it. Spend money on Tomorite or something of that ilk, or make your own and save a packet.

That's it for now. Hope you have a good week, I look forward to welcoming you all back soon .


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