The role of fertilisers when it comes to growing plants should never be underestimated. They provide extra nutrition, make up for any soil deficiencies and help your plants stay strong and healthy.
But should you buy or make fertiliser?
The answer to that question ultimately depends on how much time and money you’ve got available.
Organic or inorganic fertiliser?
There are basically two types of fertiliser: organic and inorganic.
And while both organic and inorganic fertiliser can be bought at garden centres, inorganic fertiliser cannot be made at home. That’s because it’s made from processed minerals, whereas organic fertiliser is usually made from animal or plant matter.
While it is often easier and less time-consuming to just purchase fertiliser from a store, many people still enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes from making your own. The best part of all is that you actually don’t need all that much in terms of raw materials
Two of the most popular homemade fertilisers are compost and animal manure.
You can make compost by simply collecting all your fruit and vegetable scraps in a compost bin and allowing them to decompose. Turn your compost over regularly and mix it through your soil once it’s properly broken down. Be careful though, as compost may increase the pH of your soil, making it more acidic.
Animal manure is even easier again, but you need to watch what animal it comes from. Generally, the manure of any animal that has a diet of grass, grain or plant matter is a good bet to use. Animal manure can be purchased or sometimes obtained for free, and it’s always a good idea to give it a bit of a wash before you dig it through your soil, as this helps remove any weed seeds.
For a super nutrient rich fertiliser, combine animal manure and compost!
The pros and cons of inorganic fertiliser
Inorganic fertilisers are composed of the three main nutrients: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous (and, in some cases, there is also sulphur). Because they are made using processed minerals the nutrients are more readily available to plants than those found in organic fertilisers.
However, said nutrients are quickly lost due to irrigation or rainfall, and so need to be applied multiple times throughout a growing season.