The most important way we tend our container gardens is through feeding.
Plants set out in a garden can usually get the nutrients they need from the ground, but plants in a container quickly use up the nutrients available to them in that confined space.
Some gardeners use potting soil with slow-release fertilizers included, but I prefer not to use these. I like beginning with a basic potting soil that includes no chemical fertilizers. One reason for my preference is that at the end of the season I like to add the spent potting soil to my compost heap, and I really do not want to add chemicals or salts to anything I’ll use in other areas of my garden. As well, those fertilizers don’t feed forever. So, a few months in, some sort of feeding is still necessary.
As an organic gardener trying to tend my soil as much as my plants, I feed my containers weekly through the growing season with a liquid fish or seaweed emulsion.
It is very stinky stuff, but application is easy. I add a spoonful to a watering can, fill with water, then give each pot a good soaking.
Organic liquid fertilizers are:
- easily absorbed by roots and leaves
- less likely than granular fertilizers to burn our tender plants
- and they don’t leave behind harmful residue in the soil.
The hardest part might be remembering to use them.
I remind myself with the phrase “Friday Feed.”
If it’s a Friday, I feed. If I can’t remember when I last fed my container plants, I simply wait for the next Friday and get to work.