Slow release fertilizers and feeds are purpose-made to release nutrients in the soil over a prolonged period of time – more months than weeks. They come in bags of small granules as well as processed powders such as blood and bone meal. Heavy feeding plants such as broccoli, cabbages, pumpkins, rhubarb and strawberries are often planted in soil that has been enriched with a slow-release feed to sustain them through to harvest. Slow release feeds are also used a part of general soil preparation at any time of year.
Sheep pellets an organic, natural product that not only releases nutrients gradually into the soil but also helps to improve its structure.
Blood and bone meal processed animal bones and blood are combined into a powder that releases nutrients into the soil over a period of months. Vegetarians may want to use sheep pellets instead or add regular mulching layers of compost around plants instead.
Granules these are commercially manufactured to contain a balanced dose of key nutrients. For a more natural option that will also save you money, build more compost bins and start up additional wormeries.
Slow release feeds are used year round but are most often used in spring and autumn when waves of new plants are being introduced to the garden.
Can be used on any beds or areas where planting is being changed with one crop coming out and another going in. Particularly useful in Spring soil preparation for new plantings as well as for soil at the end of summer that has been home to ‘gross feeders’ like cucumbers and aubergines that take a lot of nutrients from the soil during the growing season and can leave it depleted.
Slow release feeds can be dug deeply into soil to store nutrients for hungry productive pumpkins, potatoes and strawberries as well as deep rooted vegetables like parsnip, beetroot, carrot and turnip. They are often turned into the top few inches to be more readily available to fast growers such as lettuce, spinach, peas and beans and slow growing brassicas as they start to develop heads and lush leaves.
Scatter across soil surface and dig in so that product is no longer visible. Ensure slow release feeds are well-mixed with soil. Can be added to individual planting holes (about a sprinkling to a handful depending on hole size) when planting the likes of rhubarb, globe artichoke, zucchini, melon, tomato and other hungry high producers – just mix in with soil at the bottom of the planting hole. Also good scattered along the bottom of trenches when planting potatoes. If planting containers with fruit or vegetables slow release feeds are recommended as their staggered release of nutrients helps to sustain plant growth in restricted amounts of soil.