Feed Me Seymour...

Gardener:Old Mangakino Orchard (McCallum's Garden)

Date:29 Nov 2022

Blog Type:Vegetables, Flowers

Is what I hear my plants screaming when I go out into garden...

It’s that time of year where the garden is bursting to life. Growth is ramping up, flowers are forming and in some cases the first fruits are starting to appear.

Our plant babies are turning into children and will soon be teenagers and before we know it, they will be going through their adult years and preparing for retirement (all this life bundled into a few months).

Their growth and life is much quicker than ours but just like us, their growing bodies need good food to do well and that is where nutrients, water and sunshine come into play.

This brings me to the subject to of fertilizer and it is too broad a subject with so many varying opinions to cover in a small blog but I’ll share a little of what we do. If you want the abbreviated version it goes something like this – blah blah blah blah – BUY DYNAMIC LIFTER – you can now skip to the end or keep reading.

For us they key to good healthy plants, is good soil so our first approach to getting good nutrients into our gardens is adding organic matter (compost to the gardens). We have adopted a no dig approach where the organic matter is added to the top of the beds. This layer provides a mulch but also promotes worms and helps maintain a good level of nutrients in the top soil. I read that this encourages earth worms to come up to feed on the compost and in doing so, the drag nutrients back into the soil as well as aerating the soil. We add blood and bone as well as lime to our compost to promote good microbes and also provide a slow release fertilizer that will seep into the soil as it rains. Both Yates products are certified organic.

When planting out seedlings, I always add a few dynamic lifter pellets to the hole. I have blogged about this before and if we had to only choose one product to feed our gardens this would be the one. Yates Dynamic lifter is an organic mix of blood and bone, fishmeal and seaweed and it is a powerhouse. I find as it is natural, it is gentle on plants and slowly releases nutrients right where they are needed. Being natural it also promotes good microbes and happy worms. We trialled it this year by putting one pellet with each beetroot plant when pricking them out and potting them up. They loved it. While it can seem costly, I believe it is great value for money as I manage to get one bag to last me a full season.

For the fruit trees, they get a little sulphate of potash each year which reminds me I need to get some more for our new property. This is another organic Yates product and it promotes good flowers and healthy fruit. Again a little goes a long way. They also get some Dynamic lifter, compost and blood and bone.

We are not big on synthetic fertilizers but have won a lot of over the years of doing this challenge and after trialling them, I can say that the Yates ones really do work. As we were growing in bags last year which only had potting mix and no worms etc, we used the Yates Thrive liquid and Granular tomato food throughout the season and the tomatoes did really well.  Potted plants often need a lot more help than those in the garden and a balanced and specially formulated fertilizer promotes strong plants which in turn are less susceptible to pests and disease.  Our synthetic fertilizers are earmarked for pots and bags where it is hard to add mass quantities of organic matter.

My other advice is to read the packets and follow the advice. Sometimes we think, more is better but that is not always the case. I liken it to me and chocolate. A few pieces a day generally improves my mood, makes me a nicer person to be around and I like to think improves my overall health. But a block a day makes me sluggish, moody and could ultimately be my demise.  Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

If using synthetic fertilizer it pays to water first, be careful with application and avoid contact with plants and to water in well after application. My mum once murdered a lemon tree with too much fertilizer and improper application. This is a lot harder to do with natural fertilizers.

There are plenty of homemade options too out there including the stinky comfrey tea. These can be good and cost effective but it pays to do your research as unlike the products sold over the counter, it is hard to know the strength of what you have made and at what rate to apply.

Anyways, I realise this is a long blog. If you are considering your fertilizer options, I would suggest looking at the Yates range. They have something to fit all gardeners from organic to synthetic and also a mix of both so you can have the benefits of both worlds if that suits you. Every gardener is different, and every garden is different and the key is finding something that works for you and your garden.

That being said, I am firm believer that every gardener should have a bag of Dynamic Lifter! (And no, I do not work for Yates or receive any kickbacks for the recommendation!)

Feed Me Seymour...