Plants cannot live by soil alone

I intended the above heading to sound philosophical and deep, but on reading it again it could be misconstrued as a lonely person with unhygienic toilet habits. Anyway, on with the show, Cruella my wife is away in England visiting our son and I have been making the proverbial hay whilst the sun shines. This not only means 24 hour gardening, but also being able to purchase various gardening accoutrements (good word eh!), without having to sneak them into the shed under cover of darkness. I can also go shopping in my gardening clothes, which is normally frowned upon; mind you I have been thrown out of two shops and people keep giving me money to buy food.

16th April, Things I have been doing lately

🍴Feeding plants: My starting heading was meant to highlight the fact that plants need more then just being stuck in the soil. A key ingredient this time of the year is to start feeding to ensure that all your plants get a boost ready for Summer. Now you can feed a general purpose feed for everything and I won’t report you to the authorities for neglect. However, it is better to use specialised feeds that target the particular needs of individual plants. Just as you prefer different types of food, so do plants. The photo below shows the main types of feed that I use in my garden, there are others – such as iron – but the main ones are shown in the photo.

A veritable plant banquet

All of these plant foods are readily available in Spain and one bottle of each should last you most of the Summer. From the left:

1. A granulated universal feed that should be sprinkled through borders and under trees. You must water this in, but it should last about three months. I use this just as a starter background feed, but still use others.

2. Again a general feed, but more intense. This Guano (bird poo) feed is a bit more expensive than the normal general liquid feed, and doesn’t make up such large quantities. Feed this once a week to border plants.

3. This is a specialist fruit feed.  I use it for Figs, Persimmons, Olives, Pomegranates and Butter nut squash. Again feed once a week at the hight of the summer.

4. This is a specialist citrus feed. Don’t be tempted to feed a general food to Citrus as it won’t do much good. I use this for Oranges and Lemons. Feed it from now through to about September.

5. The last one isn’t really a feed, but is an essential part of any new bare root plantings; especially Roses etc. Mycorrhizal Fungi should be applied to wet roots and sprinkled in the planting hole, it helps the plant to get established very quickly.

There you have it, get feeding and your plants will love you.

⚱️ Renewing compost in pots: If you have plants in pots, and who doesn’t, then this is the time of year to refresh their compost. Whilst succulents and cactus will happily sit in the same soil for years, everything else needs replenishing every year if you want them to give of their best. Don’t worry I am not asking you to redo the whole pot. In most cases this would be impossible because of the root ball, but try and replace the top three or four inches of compost.

The first photo below shows how I have removed the top portion of compost in one of my pots to expose the root ball. You must be careful not to damage too many of the fine feeding roots , just expose as much as you can without causing damage (if only Arnold Weinstein had heeded my counsel).

The second photo shows where I have applied a general feed directly around the roots. This will need to be watered in, but only when you have covered the roots with nice new compost.

The final photo shows my standards all ready for Summer with new compost and plenty of food.

🚰 Adjusting and checking irrigation: Dont assume that your irrigation systems will function as they have been all Winter. There are a number of problems you have to take account of. Firstly, here in Spain as the population rises in the summer with holiday makers, so the water pressure gets reduced as there are more households to supply. This means that your irrigation settings will have to be adjusted to take this into account, either by opening individual irrigation points a bit more to let more through, or setting your timer for longer to take into account the reduction in pressure. Lastly, you should run your irrigation system now just to check that there are no individual points blocked up with soil or leaves.

I have eleven individual irrigation systems throughout the garden; they provide hours of fun just with adjustments and seasonal alterations. The photos below show just a few of the various configurations. And Cruella thinks I’m not interesting, any woman would be lucky to have me.


Author: spanishgarden

I live in both Spain and the UK and am a very keen gardener. I garden every day and enjoy sharing all the secrets that God allows us to discover in our gardens.

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