To get the best from the garden, attending to regular fertilising, mulching and soil improving is critical to keeping it healthy and waterwise.
A strong healthy plant will survive the extremes of heat, cold and drought far longer than a stressed nutrient deficient plant.
Deciding what to feed plants to build their disease resistance or to get the best flowering and fruit set can be a daunting task as the choice is endless.
Often it comes down to convenience and what is best suited to the type of garden and plants.
What is a Granular Fertiliser
Granular fertilisers make it easy to feed the garden, referred to as the ‘set and forget’ method of feeding, throwing a fertiliser around the garden at the beginning of the growing season is certainly satisfying. Let the rain wash it in and the hard work is done.
Granular formulations are usually compounded, which means each granular contains most of the nutrients in one prill and when applied at the recommended rates will release complete nutrients where it’s needed.
Developing a complete fertiliser for specific plants groups and gardens takes many experiments with different formulations and application rates
Endless plant growing trials and establishment of garden trial sites by manufacturers results in the best formulation making its way to the garden centre shelves and ultimately the soil in the garden.
There are many criteria that are required to make a top of the range granular fertiliser. It:
- must not blow away in the wind when being applied
- has a inert carrier (meaning the binder or substance used to hold nutrients together wont affect the integrity of the fertiliser)
- is made up of quality raw materials.
Not all conditions or situations are suitable for applying granular fertilisers as it can depend upon many different factors.
When applying granular fertilisers remember to water in well.
When to avoid applying Granular Fertilisers?
- In the extreme heat – the risk of burning and killing plants is high.
- Read the instructions on the back of the bag or container. Follow the recommendations – if it says do not use in pots, avoid using on plants in pots as a quick release formulation will burn easily.
- Do not apply any closer than 4 weeks between feeds or plants roots will burn.
- Avoid specific highly nutritious formulations for native plants – they will die overnight.
- In waterlogged soil.
What are the different types of Granular Fertilisers
Granular fertilisers can be further classified into controlled release and slow release formulations. These are often confused by gardeners and while similar have different release patterns.
- Controlled release formulations are those that release nutrients into the soil through moisture and temperature, reducing the risk of ‘nutrient dumping’ and destroying plants through overfeeding. Each granule of a controlled release fertilisers has a semi permeable membrane coating which allows nutrients to pass, through the process of osmosis. The quality of the coating will reduce ‘nutrient dumping’ and allow steady controlled nutrient release.
- Slow release is the name commonly given to granular or pelletised 100% organic or organic based formulations. The pellets or granules are formed with a mix of water soluble and insoluble nutrients and as the pellet or granules break down the soluble nutrients are available to the plant and the organic component is further converted by the soil biota and moisture into a form that a plant can take up. 100% organic formulations such as blood and bone, will break down over time in the soil resulting in increased soil health and stronger plants.