Fertilizers put back what the rain and plants take away. It is as simple as that, but the details of correct fertilizer usage are not so simple. Garden plants vary greatly in their requirements, and correct timing is often all-important.

The usual plan is to buy a branded compound fertilizer. It is possible to prepare a home-made mix, but some skill is needed. Not all straight fertilizers can be blended - for instance, avoid mixing lime and sulphate of ammonia or super phosphate of lime and nitrate of soda. Some mixtures quickly set rock hard if conditioning agents are not added - one of the best conditioners is Bone Flower.

Lawns; Every lawn needs a nitrogen-rich compound fertilizer when growth becomes active in spring. Use one such as Toplawn which contains a weed killer. If the lawn appears pale in midsummer, water on a liquid Lawn Tonic or sulphate of ammonia. Autumn treatment is for the keen gardener. Never use quick-acting nitrogen, this is the time for a product with phosphates, potash and a small amount of slow acting nitrogen. Using quick acting nitrogen can lead to disease.

Roses; Use a mixture of 1 part soil, 1 part moist peat and 3 handfuls of Bone Meal per barrow-load for filling the holes at planting time. With established plants, use a potash-rich compound fertilizer which contains magnesium and gypsum. Spread 1oz of Toprose around each bush before the leaves are fully open and repeat the treatment in June or July. Do not feed Roses after the end of July or frost-sensitive growth may occur.

Greenhouse Tomatoes; Regular feeding is vital for greenhouse vegetables such as Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Aubergines etc. The best plan is to buy a potash-rich liquid fertilizer. Trials have shown that the little-and-often technique is better than a few heavy feeds. Use a low-strength solution for each watering until the plants are in full fruit. Increase the strength once heavy cropping has started. Outdoor Tomatoes should be fed every 10 to 14 days.

Trees and Shrubs; The standard recommendation is to apply a routine dressing of Growmore around the plants in spring, but the problem with trees is to get the fertilizer down to the roots. A better plan is to use a specific Tree and Shrub fertilizer and pour it over the leaves ans around the base of shrubs in the spring. For trees spike the ground under the leaf canopy with a fork to the full length of the tines before feeding.

Vegetables; A base dressing should be applied shortly before sowing or planting. Growmore is an old favourite and remains as popular as ever. Fast maturing crops will need no further feeding. Vegetables which take longer to mature will need one more top dressing during the season. Using a soluble fertilizer , such as Instant Bio, which is dissolved in water and then applied through a watering can. Sulphate of ammonia can be used to give a quick boost to greens.

House Plants; There are many house plant feeding techniques these days. There are sticks, steady-release granules, tablets, feeding mats and so on. Whichever method you use, remember to reduce the amount of nutrients when the plants are resting - the winter months for foliage plants. Adding a few drops of liquid fertilizer to the watering can remains by far the most popular method as it is easy, inexpensive and provides control of the nutrient supply.

Fruit trees and Bushes; The general principles is the same as that for the ornamental trees and shrubs, but there are a few additional factors. The greatest demand for nutrients is when the small fruits are beginning to swell, and at this stage it is necessary to use a potash-rich feed. Never use a feed which is richer in nitrogen than potash once fruit has formed. Most fruit trees and bushes respond to foliar feeding, especially after pest damage.

Flowers; Work a powder or granular fertilizer into the surface during soil preparation prior to planting. Most flowers will need feeding in spring, sprinkle Growmore around perennials. Feed large and leafy plants such as Chrysanthemums and Dahlias with a liquid fertilizer on a regular basis. Annuals and alpines, however, need much less feeding - just once when they are coming into flower.

Author's Bio: 

An unbelievable period of my time is spent in my garden. Because as I am getting older and things are getting harder to do, I have decided to use a firm called a Gardener London company for help. So far they have given me all the help and advice that I have asked for. I still do a bit of pottering around my own garden though!