The beginning of spring is the perfect time to feed most of the plants in your garden. The first step is to ask a question about which plants need feeding and whether it is necessary. The concept of climate change and decreasing resources has led many to question the sustainability of the traditional garden. Perhaps it is time to adopt a style that accepts lower rates of growth that require smaller and in some cases no inputs of water or fertiliser. Many Australian plants will thrive in such situations and can be used to replace lawns and masses of exotic plants, and will look good with a fraction of the resources needed to keep them looking good.

If it is important to fertilise where a more rapid growth rate is required then it is possible to feed in an environmentally sound way. Fertilisers that release their nutrients slowly over a period of months give the target plants a much better chance of catching most of what you have applied. Well rotted animal manures and composts based on them are the more organic way to feed while a less smelly way is to use a complete slow release fertiliser (i.e. one that contains the full range of nutrients) that are far more concentrated and therefore needed in much smaller amounts. Liquid or granular fertilizer is useful for a quick boost to plants to encourage flowering or for vegetable growing, and can be targeted for the appropriate need- higher nitrogen encourages leaf growth whereas higher phosphorus and potassium encourages fruit and flower growth. Check out the N:P:K ratio on your package.

Quick points on fertilizing plants-

  • If you are going to choose a packaged fertilizer, always follow the manufacturer’€™s directions regarding the quantity to use for the size and type of plant being fertilised.
  • Whatever fertilizer you choose, be sure to water your plant afterwards so as to avoid leaf burn.
  • Don’t fertilise if very hot weather is predicted, It is better to wait for more mild temperatures.
  • Add organic matter to the soil which helps to hold onto the nutrients and release them more slowly.