Vegetable Garden Fertilizer
Proper vegetable garden fertilization is an important aspect in order to achieve success with vegetable gardening. The amount of vegetable garden fertilizer generally depends on the type of soil and particular crops being grown. Fertility requirements differ between growing seasons and among soil types. For example, while vine crops such as tomatoes and beans generally require only small amounts of vegetable fertilizer, root crops are favorable to larger amounts of vegetable fertilizer. With regards to soil, that which is abundantly rich with organic matter may not require much, if any, vegetable fertilizer. Organic matter improves the soil and helps release nitrogen, minerals, and other nutrients plants require.
Vegetable Garden Fertilizer
The primary reason to choose an organic vegetable fertilizer is to condition your soil for the long haul. When it is mixed in your soil it adds lots of organic material causing the soil to remain loose, oxygen rich, and hold more moisture, trace elements, and nutrients.Organic fertilizer also allows microbe organisms to produce and increase soil fertility which in turn promote a stronger healthier plant root system. In general, organic fertilizers release nutrients over a long period and your soil will be healthy and plant friendly.Don’t use fresh or also called green manure in your vegetable garden when you plant because it usually contains disease-causing bacteria and organisms. You can however, apply it to your soil after last year’s harvest to give it time over the winter months to break down for next year’s planting. On the other hand it is OK to use organic fertilizer purchased from a garden outlet because it is already cured and ready to use.The main disadvantage with organic fertilizer is how long it takes to enrich your soil. Because it is organic, like Mother Nature, it takes time to work. A little planning ahead will easily take care of this disadvantage. If you planted crops last year, mix in new fertilizer after you harvest. This will give your organic fertilizer all winter to condition your soil and be ready for next spring’s planting. If you haven’t planted before take a cue from last year’s gardeners and do the same.If you leave fertilizing until spring, it won’t have time to release sufficient nutrients required by your plants when they need it most.And this leads us to-
Vegetable Garden Fertilizer
nutrients your vegetable plants need the moment they are planted. Do keep in mind never apply the fertilizer directly to the plant as this will harm them by burning the plants tender roots.Mix the fertilizer four to five inches from the vegetable plant and let the roots grow to the fertilizer nutrients. Be sure to read the manufactures instructions before use.Unfortunately, most chemical fertilizers don’t include trace elements that your plants also need. The reason I say “most chemical fertilizers,” is because I understand some manufacturing companies are now adding trace elements to the mix. Before you make your purchase, read the contents to see if trace elements are included. If not, you can purchase them separately.Again, before use be sure to take time to read the manufactures instructions.Like most things in life that seem too good to be true, there are draw-backs associated with chemical fertilizers. With continued use, over time chemical fertilizers will deplete what organic matter your soil had causing the soil to become compact, lifeless, and less able to hold water and nutrients. When this time comes, even chemical fertilizers won’t help your plants and you will have to replace the soil.So on one hand, you save time now, but in the long run spend more time replacing the soil in your entire garden patch.Did You Know
A common recommendation for vegetables is to apply 1 pound of a 10-10-10 fertilizer or 2 pounds of a 5-10-5 (or 5-10-10) fertilizer per 100 feet of row. The first number is the percentage by weight of nitrogen, the second the percentage by weight of phosphorus and the third number is the percentage by weight of potassium in the fertilizer product. Thus, 100 pounds of a 5-10-10 fertilizer contains 5 pounds of nitrogen, 10 pounds of phosphorus and 10 pounds of potassium. As already mentioned, applying nutrients not needed can cause problems with the vegetables you are growing.
Mulching will increase yields, conserve moisture, prevent weed growth and regulate soil temperature before decomposing to help with fertilizing the vegetable garden. Organic mulches can be made of straw, leaves, grass, bark, compost, sawdust or peat moss. Organic mulches incorporated into the soil will improve fertility and drainage. With good drainage, abundant organic material, and minimal use of commercial fertilizers, the growth requirements of nearly all vegetables can be fully met; these vegetable garden fertilizer tips will result in a more productive and healthy vegetable garden.
All edible plants remove some nutrients from the soil, and some have such huge appetites that they will quickly exhaust the soil (and then produce a poor crop) without the help of fertilizer. Fertilizing is especially helpful early on, when plants are making fast new growth. You can mix a continuous-release fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed, into individual planting holes, work it into furrows, or use a turning fork to mix it into beds. You can also apply a liquid fertilizer, such as Bonnie Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food, every week or two for a fast-acting extra boost of nutrition.
If you have not had a soil test conducted on your garden soil but still want to fertilize, apply small amounts of a nitrogen fertilizer several times during the growing season. Prior to planting, spread fertilizer (not manure) over the growing area and incorporate it into the soil with a rototiller, spade or garden rake. Apply up to 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for this application. This fertilizer should only contain nitrogen and no or minimal amounts of phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients.
Commercial fertilizers should be applied to the vegetable garden either a few days before planting or when the crops are planted. Adding fertilizer to the soil during preparation of the garden, however, is ideal since placing any type of fertilizer too near seedlings or young plants can cause the roots to burn.
Just about any type of plant material can be composted for vegetable garden fertilizer. These materials can include leaves, lawn clippings, straw, and garden or kitchen scraps. Crushed eggshells and coffee grinds are particular favorites of mine for use in compost.
A pH Soil Test Kit will tell you the amount of nutrients and pH level in the soil.These kits usually measure pH levels on a scale from 0 to 14. A measurement of 0 indicates your soil is very acidic and a measurement of 14 the soil is too alkaline.So what does this mean exactly? Simple! With a near 0 or a near 14 measurement your vegetable plants won’t like you and you won’t be a happy gardener. So to make you and your plants happy, aim for a pH level in the middle of zero to fourteen somewhere around a seven which means your soil on an average will be neutral.Check with your local garden nursery as most carry these kits. They can also be purchased at most Lowe’s and Home Depot Garden Centers or from hardware stores such as Ace Hardware.Most of these soil test kits offer an “on average” mid-range reading because soil condition vary from location to location and state to state.Another option and one I strongly suggest for complete accuracy is to take a soil sample and send it off to a soil testing laboratory for analysis. While you’re at it, do mention the type of vegetables you intend on growing and usually they will provide fertilizer recommendations and any other amendments your soil needs. There is a small fee to cover the lab tests but you will receive accurate information about your soil. Check with the agricultural dept of your local government or the agriculture dept at a University near you to find out how to go about sending a sample for analysis.
A 5-10-5 fertilizer contains 5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphate, and 5 percent potash, and it’s called a complete fertilizer because it contains some of each type of nutrient. In contrast, bone meal has an analysis of 4-12-0. It’s a good source of phosphate but doesn’t provide any potash.
Chemical fertilizers are synthetically manufactured. They include elements such as sodium nitrate, potassium chloride, and superphosphate. Chemical fertilizers come in liquid, granular, powder, or pellet form. You can fertilize when you water with a watering can, using a liquid fertilizer. Or you can sprinkle some granular fertilizer around each plant.
With experience, you will learn how to match fertilizer amounts with plants’ needs for your climate and soil. Onions, tomatoes, sweet corn, and vegetables grown in containers respond to special fertilizing techniques, but most crops grow well if you simply mix a balanced fertilizer into the soil as you set out the plants. Use the lists below to help determine the best method for feeding your favorite vegetables.