Ways To Enhance Plant Growth And Create A More Fertile Garden
Are your plants starting to look tired early in the year? Time for some interventions to support mother nature and give her a boost. There are several ways to enhance your Irish garden's fertility and plant growth.
Step back and approach from various angles.
- Can you improve soil structure?
- Can you improve soil fertility?
- Are your plants under attack from pests and diseases?
- Are your plants in danger of being snuffed out by more aggressive weeds?
- Can you encourage plant growth by pruning?
Improve Your Garden’s Soil Structure & Fertility
Irish soil can be rich and fertile but tends to be acidic. There are 2 main types.
- The most common type of soil in Ireland tends to be brown soils, found chiefly in the midlands and the eastern counties
- Ireland also has a lot of peaty soil
For more in-depth expert advice, there is an excellent practical guide you can download on managing soil structure by Teagasc.
It's a good idea to test your soil to determine its pH and nutrient levels and adjust accordingly. If you find that the soil in your garden is too acidic and nutrient-poor, then all you have to do is supplement it with organic matter, such as ready-made or homemade compost.
This intervention should improve both soil fertility and structure. A good compost will also encourage more abundant flowering and longer plant life.
Consider off-the-shelf multi-purpose compost as an efficient solution that will help you plant up seedlings, flowers, fruit and vegetable lots, containers, and baskets.
Options for ready-made multi-purpose compost include:
- Westland Multi-Purpose Compost John Innes 40L: This Peat Free option will help you support plant growth at every life stage, from seed to mature plants. Ingredients include loam for perfect nutrient and moisture retention, as well as sand and grit for encouraging better drainage. The added John Innes formula retains and releases nutrients and water for longer, providing your plants with all they need.
It also comes enriched with BIO3. This additive boosts plant growth whilst promoting better development of both plant roots and shoots. What is BIO3? It is a revolutionary new peat alternative engineered to outperform and supplant all peat-based blends.
- Westland 80 Litre Multi-Purpose Compost This is an excellent traditional solution for the more experienced gardener. It contains premium-grade Irish blended peat for best planting conditions and is enriched with up to 4-5 weeks of feed. You can use this option for plants, vegetables, trees and shrubs.
You may also add other types of fertiliser containing the proper nutrients that can help promote healthy growth and flowering. Source organic fertilisers for a more balanced and less polluting environment in terms of Water-run-off. Natural solutions include
- Seaweed extract
- Bone meal
- Well-rotted farmyard manure
There are several ready-made plant feed options out there too.
- BOOST All-Purpose Plant Feed: With this additive, you could quadruple the number of plant blooms or harvest healthier fruit. It boasts PlantsenseTM technology suitable for all ornamental and ericaceous plants, fruit, and veg. You can also use peat and peat-free compost. Then, add it to the watering can using the bottle's easy squeeze dosing system.
- Westland Big Tom Super Tomato Food: this solution promises 3 x more*, healthier, tastier tomatoes all season, using the unique PlantSenseTM Technology. You can use it on peat-free grow bags and planters. In addition, the water management system makes it easier and faster to water.
When applying liquid feed, be careful to avoid inconsistent watering. This may lead to split fruit and blossom end rot.
Protect Soil Hydration With Mulching
You can retain moisture within your garden soil by applying a layer of mulch around your plants at the base. Mulch helps to maintain moisture in the ground, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
This can also help you fend off frost damage when there are sudden drops in temperature, especially during the evenings.
Use organic mulches for a more natural intervention, as these options break down over time and add nutrients to the soil. Consider these solutions such as:
Organic mulches like straw, leaves, or grass clippings work well, breaking down over time and adding nutrients to the soil. These also contain naturally occurring moisture, which should hydrate your soil.
As you are pruning and tidying up the garden, recycle the fallen leaves or clippings by shredding them into finer bits and layering them over the soil on your beds.
Shredded bark is also biodegradable and serves as a natural intervention, giving you a decorative, attractive finish for beds and borders for a tidier-looking garden.
If you have children playing in designated open areas, it also provides an excellent soft base for them. Chipped Bark mulches also help reduce the spread of fungal diseases on leaves that arises from rain splash.
- Westland Bed & Border Chipped Bark: It is perfect for finishing beds & border areas while helping you protect plant roots. It will also deliver superior weed control. These large brown chips of bark (approximately 20-30mm – size can vary) offer excellent weed suppression, moisture retention and thermal protection for plant roots
- Westland Decorative Mini Bark: This variety of small brown 8-20mm mini chips provide a highly decorative yet low-maintenance finish for small borders and containers in your garden. It will also suppress the growth of weeds in your decorative areas and pots
Other Ways Of Protecting Plants From Weeds
There are natural methods and ready-made off-the-counter solutions to help you address weeds. However, if unchecked, some weeds may be too aggressive and hurt the development and growth of more fragile plants.
Weed Control Fabric
This is a form of Smothering, a way of covering the soil with an opaque material to smother weed seeds and prevent them from germinating. You can also use biodegradable weed barriers like burlap or landscape fabric to prevent weed growth.
- Try purpose-built Weed Control Fabric when controlling weed growth in your garden, under your pathways, driveways, decking and patios. This physical barrier method is the preferred choice of weed prevention by landscaping & gardening experts who want to avoid chemical treatments and toxic chemicals. You can get it in 20M X 1M Rolls.
- Other materials like cardboard or newspaper can help too
This manual method of regularly pulling weeds by hand can keep them from competing with your plants for nutrients and water on an ongoing basis - just build it into your weekly routine. Be sure to pull the weeds out by their roots to prevent them from regrowing.
This is a naturally inspired form of weed-suppressing properties. It uses plants with a natural propensity to discourage weeds from growing to help protect neighbouring plants. For example, planting herbs like basil, oregano, or thyme around your vegetable garden can help deter weeds and attract beneficial insects.