As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.
A large range of nutrients are necessary for your garden to grow, Martyn Loach outlines their importance and the options that are available.
It is important to understand what nutrients are needed for each stage of plant growth.
The three most important elements required in the greatest quantities are:
Nitrogen - for leaf and shoot growth. This can easily be leeched out of the soil but, if there is too much present, the plant will develop too quickly leading to soft growth.
Phosphorous - for root development. Less is required than Nitrogen but any deficiency leads to stunted growth with the leaves turning blue.
Potassium - for flowers and fruit. Leaves will yellow around the edge if there's not enough in the soil, the plant will become stunted and both fruit and flowers will be disappointing.
Other important elements that soils must contain are Magnesium, Calcium and Sulfur.
Further trace elements are also required but in very small quantities, these include: Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Boron and Molybdenum. All can be found in manure, compost and other organic matter, so deficiencies should be rare. Raspberries are susceptible to lack of iron but treating the soil annually with a seaweed fertilizer should solve any problems.
Make sure that the elements are present in correct proportion as an over supply of one can have an adverse effect on others, magnesium for example will become inactive if there is an overload of potassium.
If you garden organically, in theory all the goodness that plants require will be obtained from manure and compost. However other fertilizers may be required in certain circumstances.
For example, you may not have access to very much compost or manure, or the soil might be very short of one particular essential nutrient.
Hoof and Horn (excellent for a boost of nitrogen in the spring); Dried Blood (fast acting, nitrogen rich); Fish Meal (good for nitrogen and phosphorous)
Phospherous and Potassium:
Bone Meal (slow release that encourages root growth); Superphosphate; Wood Ash (contains some potassium and phosphate)
Seaweed (liquid and meal)
Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum)
So nutrient rich fertilizers do play a part in organic gardening but they must be compatible with the requirements of plants and the soil. As the late Geoff Hamilton once said,'If you supply nature with the tools of her trade, she will do the rest'.
Whether it's a bleak December or the more mild weather we are becoming used to, you can still spend useful time in the garden during the last month of the year. David Coton suggests some garden jobs that can occupy the short days.
David Coton was delighted to recently meet with Frank Honald, President and Owner of Henri Studio USA, who had flown in from Chicago to discuss the opportunity of bringing their products back into the UK next year.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, sound advice and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2019.
I had never heard of Evika Greenhouses but when I walked into our annual Garden & Leisure Exhibition 2019 (GLEE) it was the only product I really saw. A brand new greenhouse brand is always going to get my attention but the sense that this was not only new, but different, kept my focus.