We are now half way through spring and the weather is warming with every passing week. So, now is as good a time as any to fertilise and get that mulch topped up.
I know that nobody really wants to be out in the rain but, believe me this is actually the best time to be out there spreading mulch and fertilising your garden.
Fertilisers – pellets, drenches or powders – all need to be well watered in so what better time to spread them out than when it’s about to rain or raining. The same goes with mulch, particularly straw based mulches. They can be very dusty and are always best to be watered in. Even better, I like to break my straw bales into biscuits and soak them in a big tub before putting it on the garden. It will do a much better job of keeping the soil moist and it will start breaking down very quickly.
I generally use pelletised chook manure or ‘pearls from my girls’ when I fertilise our garden. Everywhere except where the chooks forage. For those areas I use my blood and bone mix. If you have pets and are concerned about using pelletised manure the try this as recipe for a safe alternative. I like to make up a bucket full of mix so that as and when I need it I can plunge my hand in and know that it is ready to go. Now that’s good home economics 😉
Blood and Bone Fertiliser Mix: 9 cups of blood and bone to 1 cup of sulphate of potash. Add to a bucket and mix well. Now, this is just a ratio – 9:1 so, just keep going until your bucket is full. You can spread this anywhere in the garden that needs a feed, lawns too! Spread at a really good handful per square metre. I do this in my orchard so that my chooks don’t eat the pellets.
My personal preference is to fertilise first and then lay mulch on top. I do this for two reasons: First – I don’t like the idea of other animals consuming fertiliser pellets or granules (organic or not!), Second – fertilisers like chook manure and blood and bone are compost activators and I treat mulch in our garden just the same as I treat our compost. These fertilisers kick start the composting process and this is great news for our soil. This is why I am never stingy with the mulch. I lay it as thick as I can and I top up as soon as the mulch starts to look a bit thin.
Don’t forget your pots too! They can use about a tablespoon of fertiliser per 30cm in diameter and in most cases there is a suitable mulch for plants that are in pots. Mulching pots will slow down evaporation and help plants survive the hot summer. Just remember this: The more arid the plant the more coarse the mulch should be. For instance, with fruit trees and vegetables use straw, with succulents use gravel or pebbles.
Quick Tip: If you know of anyone who is doing weight training and is buying buckets of that awful powdered supplement bollocks, ask them for their spent buckets. Or try your local café’s. They often have spare buckets with lids. The important thing is to find one with a lid so that you don’t get unwanted critters in your bucket and your contents stay fresh.
You know, the best thing about gardening in the rain is the beautiful hot shower or bath you have when you come inside. Go on, get your rain coats on and get out there!