All Muck and Magic. The Answer Lies in the Soil by Geoff Hodge

Geoff Hodge a Garden writer, broadcaster & horticultural consultant gave a highly practical talk to the club:


There are several types of garden fertilisers – the main ones are either liquid or granular.

Liquid feeds include Tomorite and Phostrogen.

Any fertiliser has to be absorbed as a liquid so if  you are using one which is granular, eg Gromore, then water it in well after.

Liquid fertiliser are therefore better in this regard as the plants can use them immediately.  However, they are also used up quickly so it needs to be applied as often as the label says.

For all fertilisers, read the label for frequency and amount to be used.

Plants thrive better with an even application of fertiliser, ie, not a massive load and then nothing for a long time, but a consistent even application.

Use a hose end feeder to save trudging about with watering cans.

Use liquid fertilisers even when it’s wet.

For Granular feeds, Growise Pro 5 is very good.  Toprose is best for roses as it is good to give them one made especially for roses.

Granular fertilisers last longer than liquid feeds.

Miracle gro – all purpose – is a good one as it is controlled release and will release when the soil is wet so the plant can’t be under or over fed.  It lasts up to 6 months so if you use it in March you will only need to feed once a year with perhaps a top up in eg July if needed.

The N, P and K figures in fertilisers stand for:

N = nitrogen which feeds soft leafy green growth

P = Phosphorus which feeds the roots

K = Potash which helps set fruit and flowers and improves taste and strengthens against bad weather.

Blood fish and bone needs a long time to break down to be available to the plant and then gives them a surge of feed.

Where you have high pH or neutral conditions, eg hard tap water for watering containers you can acidify.  The best is sulphur chips used spring and autumn.

Seaweed for example in Tomorite improves the flavour of tomatoes.

For an organic source of potash, soak comfrey leaves in water.  It does stink however!!

Seaweed extract is very good for organic gardens.

For a tonic rather than fertiliser, use Maxicrop Plant Growth Stimulant.

Mycorrhizal fungi are associates of micro roots and help the roots absorb water and nutrients.  They help roots establish quicker and this helps with drought resistance.

Vitax Q4 is a good organic feed and Vitax Q4 +1 is more expensive but also has mycorrhizal fungi added.

Bio stimulants worth considering include Envii and Root Booster.

Compost heaps – to help break down quicker, add nitrogen.  You need a green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) matter balance for good compost and grass clippings will help it break down faster as they contain a lot of nitrogen.

Only mulch when the soil is moist.  If you mulch dry soil, you make it more dry.