Feed Me! Feeding Your Plants

Feed me…

‘Feed me. Feed me. Feed me!
Feed me, Seymour.
Feed me all night long.
"That's right, boy!"
You can do it...
Feed me, Seymour.
Feed me all night long...
'Cause if you feed me, Seymour,
I can grow up, big and strong.’

feed me

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman got it right in The Little Shop of Horrors. Plants need to be fed to grow big and strong.

OK, not with the gubbins used in that particular rock, horror musical comedy, but feed all the same. Now, often the soil will provide everything a plant needs. All that lovely nitrogen, potassium and potash plus the little bits and bobs a healthy soil and plant needs is there in adequate amounts. And in the correct balance. All at the right acidity to make everything work well. A complex symphony conducted by nature itself. A true masterpiece.

But we gardeners expect a lot from our plants.

We cram, slam and wham plants into containers or growing bags or old wheelbarrows or large catering olive oil containers or small baked bean cans and expect miracles. Even quality compost can only sustain healthy growth for a period of time. Extra feed is required to sustain all the thousands of root hairs greedily gobbling up all available nutrients. Not only is the competition for food enormous, but watering with tap water can play around with that all important acidity of the compost. Some changes in acidity can lock up certain nutrients making things difficult to get growing. Watering can also wash out the very food the plant needs. The result are weak hanging baskets, skinny containers and generally hungry ‘feed me’ type of situations.

Signs of feeling peckish are easy to spot. Yellow leaves are a good sign things are getting to a crisis point (unless it is a yellow leafed plant). I use my celery as an example - a greedy, thirsty plant and definitely not supposed to be yellow. I left the plants in their little pots too long and they got hungry. Out into the soil and they seemed to be sitting and sulking. A good drenching with seaweed extract and, honestly, within four days they were perky and green. They are now well on their way to producing crunchy sticks of goodness.

tomato strip

Your tomatoes will soon be getting ravenous. They are big plants and demand a lot from the soil or compost. In hot weather, they could be sucking up a gallon or two of water every day along with lots of nutrients. First signs are yellowing of the leaves. Usually the lower leaves. ‘Feed me.’ Not necessarily with the big meat and two veg type of nutrients ( N,P,K) but magnesium in the form of Epson Salts. Recovery will take a day or so.

Now, you're a sensible level headed type of gardener so you certainly don’t need me to lecture you from the high pulpit of horticultural patronisation as others do. Organic feeds are available for all your plants be it fruit, veg, trees or bedding. And the other side of the coin is that inorganic or chemical feeds are also available. The choice is yours. Both work. Both work well. Both work well and sometimes quickly. Just study your plants, understand what they are going through and feed appropriately.

‘I'll feed you like you never been fed before!’