Now we all want to get our toms to grow right, right? And now as they're probably starting to flower you really need to start doing that. Read more about tomatoes here:
Have a look at those baby plants in the foreground. Recognise them? Well they're simply what we pinched out from the main plants the other week, potted up and are now giving us another 6 plants. How easy was that?!
Well what we're going to talk about here is why fertiliser is important, what it does and how to have a go at making your own!
This time last year we wrote about fertilisers. If you missed that you can read about it here:
We hope you enjoyed the short video as much as we enjoyed making it! Weren't the snails great? And yes we got soaked making it. The things we do to be able to bring you informative articles...…...
Anyway here's a slightly abridged version if you're short on time:
You'll have read previous articles about what we plant our plants in, how we might need to alter the characteristics of that by adding manure, and then the importance of watering our plants so the nutrients pass from the roots, through the stem and throughout the plant.
Well fertiliser is needed to give your plants the nutrients they need to thrive. Look at it as if it's plant food. If you don't feed them they won't grow as well. A bit like humans!
There are three main trace elements that most plants need to flourish:
Nitrogen - N - to promote green leaves
Phosphorus - P - to promote healthy roots and shoots
Potassium - K - to promote flowers and fruit
If you buy yours then the N:P:K ratio will be stated on the bottle - for instance 20:20:20 indicates a balanced fertiliser. This one - that helps your toms grow right - is higher in potassium - Ks - to promote flowers and fruit - which you'd expect for tomatoes.
You dilute your fertiliser with water and then, in most cases, apply it to the roots of the plant with your watering can. In some cases the fertiliser is applied to the leaves - some of the yews that we planted for a client in the Chew Valley are looking a bit brown so we'll shortly be giving them a foliar feed - simply a liquid fertiliser that we'll apply to the foliage to give them a boost!
We make our own fertiliser for our own use on some of our vegetables at the allotment. This is how we do it:
We have a day out at the seaside - either the Dorset coast (partly as it's nearest) or sometimes the North West coast of Scotland (when we're on holiday in the Hebrides) - and we collect as much seaweed as we can find on the shoreline.
There are strict rules about what you can take and we make sure we follow them. We tend to choose a day after a storm when there's plenty already washed up. We don't pull or cut any off the rocks or seabed as seaweed plays a vital part in marine biology.
We then bag it up, bring it home and take it to allotment. Here we have a large barrel with a lid that we simply put the seaweed in. Then we add sufficient rain water to cover it from one of our large water butts and pop the lid back on. You don't need to use a barrel. A bucket will do just as well.
Then we leave it for about 6 months until all of the trace elements from the seaweed have passed into the water. We then strain off the seaweed and add that to the compost heap, leaving us with a nice, strong smelling liquid that smells like the sea!
We bottle that up and then use it diluted in our watering can whenever we water our potatoes and broad beans. Does it work? Well have a look at the pictures and decide for yourself!
The potatoes in the foreground had it. Those that two of the three Truglets are looking at haven't. All were planted at the same time and watered in the same way - with the exception that those in foreground - with far more leaves and flowers - were fed with Scott's Own Kelp Tea!
You don't need to use seaweed if you can't get to the coast. You can use nettles or comfrey instead. Nettles tend to be high in Ns, Comfrey high in Ks so we do all three and have our own nicely balanced all round fertiliser that we use on our vegetables.
And the best bit? It's all free. And you can have a great day out collecting it and making it!
Me and the Truglets would love to hear about how you get on making your own. Get in touch with us and let us know! You can do so either through the facebook page, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07734 365028.
Good luck and enjoy your gardening.