No more watering cans!
Feeding plants is really important to maintain healthy plant growth, promote flowering and fruiting and reduce susceptibility to pest and disease attacks. Feeding with a liquid fertiliser is a great way of controlling plant nutrition as the feed can be tailored to each plant’s specific requirements. However, this often means mixing the fertiliser in watering cans and lugging them around the garden to each plant. With hundreds of plants spread across 8 acres this was often a very time consuming tasks. This is why during the winter we invested in a new gadget to help us with our liquid feeding at Morton Hall called a Dosatron.
The Dosatron is connected to a tap and a hose pipe and as the water
passes through it mixes feed into the water from a concentrate solution
sitting below the Dosatron. As the water passes through the Dosatron it
sucks up liquid feed from the concentrate solution mixing it with the
water at a desired rate that can be altered depending on the
requirements of the plant that is being fed. This means that we can
water plants with a hosepipe with the liquid feed mixed in and the
Dosatron has already been very useful in the short time that we have
been using it!
Every year we grow around 450 summer flowering annuals from seed in
our greenhouses which are then planted out in the borders in the
planting pockets vacated by our tulips. These include Echium vulgare
‘Blue and White Bedder’, Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’, Zinnia ‘Giant Purple
Prince’, Cosmos ‘Sonata Mix’ and Cleome ‘White and Violet Queen’. Each
plant needs to be grown to the desired size in time for the changeover
week where we remove the tulips from the beds and plant out the annuals
in their place, and this is where the Dosatron came in handy. We used a
high nitrogen feed to promote green growth to make sure that the annuals
got to the desired size in time for planting out in the borders at the
end of May.
Due to the flexibility of the Dosatron we were then able to switch over to a high potassium liquid feed to promote flowering and fruiting after planting which we are now using to bring the annuals into flower in our borders and in our pots and to feed the tomatoes and soft fruit to encourage them to produce a good display of flowers and also some tasty fruits.
But this has not been the only use for the Dosatron. At Morton Hall,
we have a large collection of calcifuge plants including Camellia,
Rhododendron and Hydrangea. As we are growing them on soil with a
neutral pH, every month we feed them with sequestered iron which ensures
that there is sufficient iron available to the plants to promote
flowering and improve leaf colour as there would be when growing them in
acidic soil. Historically this was done by diluting the concentrate
solution in a watering can and walking around the garden feeding each
calcifuge plant individually. However, using the Dosatron now means that
it can be connected to the mains water points around the garden and
each plant can be fed more quickly using a hose pipe with the
sequestered iron mixed in.
We are excited to see what other uses the Dosatron will have and are looking forward to it continuing to help us grow healthy and happy plants in the garden.