What can I use to feed my plants?

The golden rule of thumb is to feed the soil and not the plant. When using artificial fertilisers they work as a 'quick fix'. Almost like an overweight person taking slimming tablets. Fertilisers are not going to keep your plants healthy long term. If anything they damage the structure of the soil, course plants to have a growth spurt which then leads to the plant dying off sooner, especially flowers or seasonal plants. The other issue with artificial fertilisers are that they contribute towards soil erosion and pollution in the water.

The three main nutrients your garden plants need are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Together they make up the trio known as NPK. Other important nutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur. 

There are also different types of soil for different plants and at different stages. For example, seeds and cuttings will do best in a fine light soil, some plants grow well in acidic or alkaline soils, and some plants grow well in clay soils. Here are some examples of sustainable ways to feed your garden plants in the UK.


Nitrogen is good for keeping green leaves healthy. To increase nitrogen levels in the soil add..

  • Grass cuttings
  • Animal manure
  • Used coffee ground
  • Organic matter
  • Urine ( yes wee in the garden)


Phosphorus helps the plant absorb energy from the sun. This process is called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is what makes all parts of the plants grow including roots and flowers/ fruits. To increase phosphorus in the soil add....

  • Protein rich food leftovers.
  • mushrooms
  • Worms.


Potassium is really important for flowers and food growth. To add potassium to your garden soil include these in your compost mix...

  • Left over foods such as dried fruit, beans, lentils, potatoes, banana peels, watermelon, butternut, beets and dark green veg.
  • Wood ash.
  • Common British rock types that may contain significant amounts of potassium are granite, pumice, obsidian, gneiss,  greisen, schist,  slate, shale,  syenite, rock salt, and trachyte.

To make your soil more acidic add....

  • Used coffee ground
  • White vinegar diluted with water 1:10


How to make your soil more alkaline add...

  • Wood ash and biochare
  • Ground limestone.