Balcony Container Gardening: Fertiliser Guide
Container gardening is a great way to add colour to your balcony space. While container gardening is similar to regular gardening in its essence, there are certain differences to keep in mind while caring for the two. For container gardens, it is essential to give them the right fertilisers at the right time in order to see the garden thrive. This is because these plants do not have access to the nutrients, fungi and bacteria naturally found in the earth. In this guide, we talk about the different kinds of fertilisers and how to use them properly for your container garden.
Fertilising Your Balcony Container Garden
While planting your container garden, we usually recommend choosing a potting mix over the soil as these are better for growing in containers. But within about six weeks, the plants would have exhausted all the nutrients available in the potting soil. After that, your plants will need a steady and regular supply of nutrients and compost to keep them healthy and green. For this, we recommend using a slow-release organic fertiliser to help give your plants the required nutrients over time.
While that may be enough for certain plants, the other more needy plants will need extra feeding. These are usually edible plants that you might be growing in your container garden. For these, we recommend a liquid fertiliser, which can be bought or even made at home, as they are easily absorbed by both the foliage and the roots of the plants. The water-soluble liquid fertilisers are great ways of providing the plants with the necessary nutrients and can help to improve the vigour and growth of the plants. When diluted with water and sprayed on regularly, they can really help your plants thrive and grow. For those looking to buy a liquid fertiliser, seaweed liquid fertilisers are great for most container plants. Other kinds of store-bought fertilisers include fish emulsion, fish hydroslate, earthworm casting tea and compost tea.
While the liquid fertilisers can help boost your plant growth on their own, when combined with other ingredients like blood meal, rock phosphate, feather meal and liquid bone meal, they create a well-rounded growth stimulant for container plants.
How to Make Your Own Liquid Fertiliser
For those wanting to make their own liquid fertilisers, there are some that are relatively easy to make at home. Just keep in mind that it is a stinky affair! One of the most commonly made DIY liquid fertiliser is Comfrey, as it contains a good source of potassium. Another easy and nitrogen-rich homemade fertiliser is one with nettles and borage, which can be beneficial for leafy vegetables.
Another easy but stinky liquid fertiliser can be made with compost and manure mixed with water. Let the mixture sit for ten days till it turns into a weak tea-coloured brew that you can then use to feed your plants.
Urine-based liquid fertilisers are also quite common as they are high in nitrogen and have a good amount of potassium along with other beneficial nutrients. To make your urine-based fertilisers, mix one part of urine with 40 parts of water and store in a spray bottle ready to use when needed.
Compost in Potting Soil
Another good way to ensure that your container growing plants remain healthy is by adding a top layer of compost to the container from time to time. It is best to use fresh, finished compost mixed with your potting soil. Those looking to fertilise containers growing vegetables and fruits should also consider adding some living soil. You could also add a bit of molasses to feed to microbes in the soil and help them grow strong.
When to Fertilise Container Plants
Different plants require fertilisers at different times when grown in containers. Some might not even require any additional fertilisers; it is better to check the requirements for each individually. But most vegetative and flowering plants will require the additional boost the fertilisers provide. In these cases, we recommend fertilising them every two to four weeks throughout the growing season of the plant.
Another thing to keep in mind while using liquid fertilisers is that they are best absorbed by the plant when they are not under stress. So, refrain from fertilising plants that are suffering, wilting and are visibly stressed. Water them first to ensure that they are not under heat stress and wait a few hours to fertilise them. That will ensure that they are able to absorb the nutrients to the best that they can.
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