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Question from Catherine Tanser

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I have just had a RHS-trained gardener to tidy up my garden. I asked her what she recommended in the way of feeding the soil. She suggested manure in the autumn and gromore twice a year. I remember reading an article by Alan Titchmarsh who said fish, blood and bone or poultry pellets was a better option. Any Comments?

  • Views: 2151
  • Replies: 11
  • Posted: Sun. 15th January 2012 14:55

Re: Gromore

Reply from Patricia Jones

If you want to be Organic, follow Mr Titchmarsh's advice, as fish, blood and bone or poultry pellets are organic.
Growmore however is inorganic,
Pelleted Poultry manure is excellent and so is Seaweed and Comfrey granules.Seaweed in a liquid spray is a really good tonic . Use it as a foliar feed on all plants in the growing season. Poultry Pellets raked in at the beginning of the season and for an autumn top up are what I use and get good results.

  • Posted: Sun. 15th January 2012 15:42

Re: Gromore

Reply from Penny Busby

Hi Catherine,
I use poultry pellets, since I try to garden organically whenever possible. I apply them twice a year - spring and summer. They are slow-release, as is Growmore. I know well-rotted horse manure is said to be a great fertilizer, but when I bought some in bags I found this particular batch had lime added which was unsuitable for my acid-loving plants.

Also, as I'm sure many do, I have a compost bin / heap. The compost produced is a good soil improver and it's free!

  • Posted: Sun. 15th January 2012 16:33

Re: Gromore

Reply from Louise Yates M.A.

I agree with those who say bonemeal or manure is best; they add goodness on a more 'natural' basis, feeding the soil micro-organisms. Manure also adds solid rotted matter to soil that may be lacking organic content, like heavy clays. Growmore is long term bad for any soil as it adds nothing permanent, simply leaching away & upsetting the soil's in-built function as a food source for plants. You have to always check the quality of the manure you buy! Chicken manure is good but foxes love it and they'll be digging in your flower beds more than they usually do! Many gardeners suggest spring is a more efficient time to spread manure; if spread in autumn when plants are going in to dormancy, much goodness can have leached away by spring. Good gardening!

  • Posted: Sun. 15th January 2012 16:49

Re: Gromore

Reply from Richard Loader

If being Organic isn't a high priority for you then I would say that the advice from your gardener is very sound. On the one hand manure in the Autumn builds good humus in the soil and develops structure while on the other Growmore in the early and mid growing season helps vigorous early growth at a time when cool soil tends to liberate Nitrogen slowly. I have a heavy clay soil and the RHS feeding regime works very well indeed. Growmore is easy to apply, you can broadcast it, but be sure the plants are dry....or you can fork it in around your plants, it is fast acting so expect results in a matter of a couple of weeks.

  • Posted: Sun. 15th January 2012 21:51

Re: Gromore

Reply from Carol

A question for people who fertilise generally: don't you find the weeds grow well too? I don't fertilise generally - but add some pelleted poultry manure to each planting hole, and use composted manure as a mulch occasionally (not every year) or as a soil improver when starting a bed in a new area. I find shrubs often take 2/3 years to get properly going in my garden, but once going they romp away. I wonder if there's a risk that we over-fertilise and don't just let plants (and soil ecosystems) get on with it. Minerals are vitamins for plants after all rather than solid food.

  • Posted: Sun. 15th January 2012 22:28

Re: Re: Gromore

Reply from Penny Busby

Hi Carol,
I think you make a good point that it's possible to over-fertilize. I suppose it depends on the type of plants being grown as to how intensively a person gardens: bedding plants can be "greedy" and require a lot of feeding. But it is possible to have a beautiful garden without the routine use of fertilizers if the plants and soil are in balance and I believe recycling the nutrients through composting or making leaf mould is important for that.

  • Posted: Mon. 16th January 2012 07:48

Re: Re: Re: Gromore

Reply from Richard Loader

Many garden tasks can be over-done. eg. pruning, watering and chemical applications. Getting the balance right is the key to success, this will depend on factors such as soil type, plants being grown and geographic location. The fact that a task can be overdone does not negate it's value. Read the labels of the products and remember that more is not always better.

  • Posted: Mon. 16th January 2012 09:13

Re: Re: Gromore

Reply from Penny Busby

Also, over-fertilizing doesn't make for strong, robust plants. An over-fed plant won't need make a good root system to penetrate the soil and may produce too much leafy top growth at the expense of flowers.

  • Posted: Mon. 16th January 2012 08:14

Re: Gromore

Reply from Louise Yates M.A.

Food for thought from "No Nettles Required" by Ken Thompson re. organic matter in soil: '..an annual dose of leaf mould doubled yields from veg plots at the Henry Doubleday Research Association. But that extra growth above ground is merely a symptom of the enormously increased life & activity out of sight below ground'
Artificial products like Growmore do not add lasting goodness to that soil life. And leaf mould is free!

  • Posted: Mon. 16th January 2012 09:03

Re: Gromore

Reply from Fenella Dunn

Without knowing your soil type, what plants you are growing and your views on organic gardening your gardener's advice was correct. Manure is low in nutrients but great for improving structure and breaks down into humus which helps the plants extract the essential nutrients to 'make' food in the leaves. I have not heard of farmyard manure having lime added but spent mushroom compost has lime in it which is fantastic for breaking down clay soil. The lime 'flocculates' the tiny clay particles.. ie binds them together to make larger particles which reduces the surface area which in turn means it doesnt hold on to so much water in the winter. Whats more if you spread both fym and spent mushroom compost in the autumn it acts as a mulch but the worms will take it down further improving the soil structure.
Home made compost and well rotted leaves are great additions too.
Chicken manure pellets are high in nitrogen and great for vegetables and leavy plants but low in potassium and phostrogen. Potassium strenghtens the lignum, cell walls, making a plant more pest and disease resistant and also good for formation of blossom and flowers. Bonemeal is good for rootgrowth but soil surveys apparently show most soil is not lacking in phosphorous. Bonemeal on its own is recommended for planting shrubs hedging etc in the autumn to help the roots get established over the winter. Nitrogen is essential but doesnt stay in the soil long..it leaches away with rain. You are best adding blood fish and bone OR growmore when the plants need it ie when they start actively growing and will take it up.
Dogs love chicken pellets and blood fish and bone. Seaweed extract and comfrey are good organic feeds. If you are not organically minded gromore does the same job. Contains the 3 essential nutrients in equal quantities. ie NPK 7:7:7.
Whole books are written about this subject. Once you get your head round knowing your soil and feeding you get a greater understanding of your plants needs.

  • Posted: Mon. 16th January 2012 10:42

Re: Re: Gromore

Reply from Richard Loader

Nicely put Fenella.
Just one comment, Garden Centres sometimes sell spent Mushroom compost as Horse Manure (because that is the main constituent) and as you say that contains a chalk capping and will have an effect on soil pH. However, manure direct from a stable will not normally have added lime/chalk.

  • Posted: Mon. 16th January 2012 11:18