Friday 1 May 2020

Feeding Friday

Strawberries ripening in the greenhouse. Taken this morning
Gardening is a learn-as-you-go experience. From time to time I would like to pass on a few tips that I have picked up along the way. Regular readers may have sensed that I am dying to tell you more about making garden compost – but that can wait for the moment. Today is May Day but, more significantly, Friday – that is the day of the week that I feed my plants. Like the strawberries, already ripening in the greenhouse, shown here. Before telling you about Feeding Friday, I need to emphasise a really big point (have I mentioned it before?) -
look after your soil and the soil will look after your plants

To explain by example: I never usually feed plants growing in the border or in my vegetable garden. They get fed by the soil in which they grow. My job is to look after that soil and keep it in good heart, as gardeners tend to say. In a future post I will explain more about that. Plants in containers, though, are not exactly in the soil. They are in a very restricted environment and need different treatment. They will need a feed now and then. Since a weekly routine is easiest to keep up this is where Feeding Friday comes in. I think I got this very practical idea from Bob Flowerdew – what a fantastic name for a Celebrity Gardener!

What feed to use?
Any feed is better than no feed. The cheap tomato feed from Wilko will do the job. However, I prefer to use a seaweed-based feed such as Mr Fothergill’s Seasol (as you may have guessed, I garden organically). Incidentally, always buy concentrated feed and dilute it yourself, that way it is far cheaper – some tomato feed comes dilute and is, therefore, unnecessarily expensive. Another tip: I easily get in a muddle so when the feed has been mixed I leave the stirring stick in the can – simply as a reminder. A small point, but it works for me

Key tip – learn from others
Information about growing is very easily accessible in today’s world. I enjoy Gardeners’ Question Time on BBC Radio 4 – known in the trade as GQT, it has been running since 1947 – something of a record. (Although I was five years-old at the time, I was not yet listening to the Home Service, as it was then called!) On BBC tv you have Gardeners’ World – now back to a full hour on Friday evenings (or on iPlayer, of course). And, as I may have mentioned before, you have Charles Dowding on YouTube – plus many, many more. (incidentally, Charles Dowding is growing one of the varieties of kale that we mentioned the other day - Nero di Toscano, if I'm not mistaken. Still got a few left ...)

International Pot Crisis!
It is almost impossible to buy a pot at the moment. Look on Amazon to see the lead times. So, a gentle plea: should you be passing this way to do your shopping, please consider returning any pots you do not require yourself. This will help a lot

Coming in to land where everything grows perfectly
And speaking internationally
Do you know that that Garden Codger has an international following? Modesty forbids that I name each and every country, but I do wish to draw attention to Holland. There is absolutely nothing that the Dutch don’t know about growing – they are a veritable nation of growers. So, next week we shall be taking a trip, virtually speaking, to the land of tulips, windmills and Jan & Elly den Haan. Until then …

… best wishes from the old Garden Codger
Enjoy getting outside!

PS – warmer temperatures promised over the weekend. And when you're indoors you might like to follow these links to follow up the above mentions:

BBC Radio 4 GQT - here

BBC tv Gardeners' World - here

Charles Dowding on YouTube - here

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