Fertilising (and watering) your garden can make a huge difference to the bounty you can harvest from it. Spring is a good time to give the whole garden a boost.
Sheep pellets are a great all round fertiliser. They are a natural product made from sheep manure and waste wool. They contain a range of useful nutrients and are useful as a slow-release fertilizer. Sheep pellets are good for plant growth and also for the soil. They condition the soil adding organic matter, aiding moisture retention and feeding micro-organisms that help to improve soil fertility. They do smell a bit ‘sheepy’ for a while but it is not a strong smell. I look out for them whenever they are on special throughout the year as I need quite a few bags to use right around the garden.
I sprinkle sheep pellets fairly densely around all the barked areas in the garden (as well as around the fruit trees that are in the veggie garden) usually in late August – early September. As well as that I add Azalea, Camellia and Rhododendron fertiliser around all the acid loving flowering plants and Citrus and Fruit Tree Fertiliser around all the fruit trees. If the leaves are showing signs of yellowing I will add some magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salts) as well.
Sometimes I use blood and bone (a dried mix of blood, meat waste and bone dust) instead of sheep pellets – usually depending on the specials but sometimes just to give the garden a bit of a change. Blood and bone is a good source of nitrogen, phosphorous and calcium but it doesn’t contain any potassium – which is one of the most important nutrients for fruits and vegetables – so make sure you add some potash as well (about 1 part to 10 parts blood and bone). It certainly pays to dig in or water in blood and bone or you will have all the neighbourhood dogs visiting.
I generally don’t fertilise the veggie garden until quite a bit later. Sometimes I end up doing it at the same time I am planting my main summer vegetables at Labour Weekend (end of October). This often works because I haven’t finished harvesting the winter crops until then anyway and like to do it all in one go. Even though I’ve heard it is good to prepare your garden a few weeks before planting, it doesn’t seem to have caused me any trouble when I haven’t.
For the veggie garden I always start with a good layer of ‘solids’ from my worm farm – a very messy business but all part of the planting ‘ceremony’. If I have some left I will add sheep pellets and/or blood and bone (or sometimes Vegetable Fertiliser) and then cover it all with a good layer of compost (for aesthetics as much as anything). In the last few years I haven’t been able to dig the fertiliser into the soil but it has worked well.