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Fertiliser Advice


 
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PJ
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Joined: 30 Sep 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:08 pm    Post subject: Fertiliser Advice Reply with quote

I have a small vegetable garden which has not been yielding much of anything except an abundant crop of weeds over recent years. I am also breaking in a piece of rough fallow ground of a similar area in order to double the garden size. The long term plan is to use only compost and other organic fertilisers but that will take time and in the meantime the ground is seriously deficient in many minerals. Professional soil tests have indicated that the following fertilisers are required:

Bone Meal 600kg
Magnesium Sulphate 600kg
Sulphate of Potash 35kg
Sulphate of Iron 32kg
Sulphate of Ammonia 28kg

I would probably add the fertiliser over a couple of years because of the cost. I have already added a good quantity of farmyard manure and a mixture of wood chip and shredded leaves after the above tests were carried out.

My first question is where could I purchase these fertilisers because I have already tried many agricultural and gardening centres without success. Second question is, are there cheaper alternatives to the above as they seem to be very expensive, the bone meal in particular. I live in the northwest.
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plummer
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The farmyard manure should contain enough Iron and Magnesium to balance the soil. Were the wood chip and leaves composted, They will absorb Nitrogen as they break down if they were not well rotted beforehand. A cheap way of making Nitrogen (ammonia) is to shred nettles next spring and put them in a covered container filed with water and leave for about 4 - 6 wks. Go by your nose and you'll know when the ammonia is drawn from the nettles. mix it about 1 part juice to 10 parts water and spread it over the ground/plants with a watering can.

What type weeds were growing in the plot
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PJ
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you plummer. The wood chip and leaves were not composted or at all rotted and I did learn later that they will absorb nitrogen. I have access to a plentiful supply of nettles and will follow up on your suggestion as soon as they become available.

I could not identify some of the weeds that were growing but these are what I think were the main ones:

Docks (probably Broad-leaved); Chickweed; Thistle; Mayweed; Fumitory (not certain of identity); Stinging Nettle; Grass (with a bulb at the roots); Bramble (Blackberry); various others.
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plummer
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well if you've nettles and thistles growing the soil isn't poor
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tippben
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Plummer. Get the weeds out. Dig every bit out, or use glyphosate, your choice. Your soil doesn't need massive quantities of nutrients, certainly not nitrogen. Do a basic pH test, on several areas. You can get a cheap kit in a shop. If the pH is below 6.5, add lime. If not, don't. Your best plan is to grow something. The plants will tell you if they need something. Start with spuds, chard, garlic and broad beans. That covers the major nutrient groups, and you only need to do a few of each in a few places if you don't like them. If anything funny happens to the leaves, post a picture and between us here we can give a better diagnosis. It is better to fine tune areas to a specific crop, with specific needs, rather than making your whole plot all the same.
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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Fertiliser Advice Reply with quote

My first impression is that the quantities are huge. Take the bone meal. I've some Bower's on the shelf and the application rate for vegetables is 140g per square metre, once a month during the growing season. For arguments sake we’ll say the growing season is eight months. You’ll need 1.12 kg per square metre per annum. What size is your vegetable garden anyway?

It would be difficult to dispute a professional soil test, however these are aimed at professional growers, i.e. farmers. It may be overkill for a hobbyist. An extra half kilogram of produce may mean the difference between profit and loss for a farmer but may not be of great concern to you.

Nettles only grow on fertile soil; if these are growing then your soil is not deficient. Yes, you will always need fertilizer to feed your vegetables, but in regular quantities to feed the soil, not large quantities to combat deficiencies.

Have you not being hoeing the weeds? They may just be out-competing with your vegetables and some extra hoeing may go a long way.

When it comes to fertilizers (and pH levels), it’s horses for courses. The type of vegetable you are growing will determine the fertilizer you need. For example, adding nitrogen to potatoes is not a good idea as it will promote lush leafy growth whereas you want the plant to concentrate on growing tubers.
As a rule of thumb: N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium) Shoots-Roots-Fruits. Some veg, e.g. carrots, are better if grown without recently fertilized soil.
Differences also apply for pH. Potatoes grow better in acid soils, cabbages in alkaline soils.

To answer your questions...
PJ wrote:
My first question is where could I purchase these fertilisers because I have already tried many agricultural and gardening centres without success.

All of those fertilizers are widely available in garden centres and on the internet.
For example, if you google "sulphate of potash"...
https://www.google.ie/#q=%22sulphate+of+potash%22&safe=off

PJ wrote:
Second question is, are there cheaper alternatives to the above as they seem to be very expensive, the bone meal in particular. I live in the northwest.


Farmyard manure, seaweed, nettle tea. In fact, tea made from any of those weeds with the long roots, e.g. dock.
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