Vegetable plants require many essential nutrients in order to thrive and produce fruit. Since vegetable crops deplete nutrients quickly from soil, it’s important to stay on top of fertilizer applications and stay ahead of any shortages in this regard.
Before planting your vegetable garden, the ideal time and method of fertilization are spring. Granular fertilizer may still be used but must be worked in gently to avoid burning young roots.
Fertilizer contains nutrients that give plants the energy they require for growth and development, so using it properly is key to getting maximum yield from your garden.
Fertilize before planting vegetable seedlings or seeds to give them the best start possible and allow them to flourish throughout the season. If your vegetables have already been planted, add organic fertilizer granules into the soil around 4″-5 deep and be mindful not to disturb delicate roots of plants.
Before initiating any new gardens or adding fertilizers to existing ones, it is advisable to conduct a soil test and review its results. These will give a complete picture of any nutrients missing in your soil that require supplementation; these details will inform what types of fertilizers to use, how much to apply and when. Many university extension offices and communities offer low-cost soil tests.
Heavy feeder vegetables such as tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers and eggplants require regular fertilization. A common recommendation is to apply an N-P-K fertilizer every three to five weeks post planting for optimal results.
If you are cultivating light-feeding vegetables such as lettuce, arugula and kale, consider fertilizing every two or three weeks with a granular organic nitrogen fertilizer containing nitrogen granular organic nitrogen fertilizers are easy to apply: just sprinkle around your plants’ leaves without touching directly them then lightly work it in before watering your garden area to bring nutrients deeper into the soil.
Perennial flowering plants should also be fertilized before their spring growth begins, typically waiting at least a week after the last frost to reduce the risk of young growth being damaged by cold temperatures.
As summer vegetables require regular doses of nutrients for proper development and production, even in soil amended with organic matter, your gardener must also give regular applications of fertilizer with macronutrients such as macro-minerals to ensure peak productivity throughout the growing season.
As a general guideline, fertilizing vegetable gardens before planting ensures the baby plants get off to a strong start and are better able to absorb all the vital nutrients they require. If you have already planted veggies, however, light spread fertilizer around each seedling or plant depending on its individual needs; timing will depend on when fertilization needs arise.
Corn crops require their initial dose of fertilizer at planting and again when they’re 8 to 10 inches tall, while peppers and eggplants should receive additional feedings two weeks after fruit sets and one or two weeks after their tassels appear. Tomatoes require higher concentrations of phosphorus and potassium than most vegetables–3 parts nitrogen to 4 parts phosphorus to 4 parts potassium (3-4-4).
Once your vegetable plants have taken hold, continue feeding them using either granular or liquid fertilizers regularly. Be sure to follow any directions given on the packaging as too much fertilizer can harm young roots or create other issues. Water your bed first as wet soil helps the roots absorb its nutrients more readily.
As the season advances, you may need to fertilize your vegetables more often; hot and dry weather could require extra water as well. To determine when and how often to fertilize, it is wise to conduct a soil test at the beginning of each growing season; many university extension services offer low-cost tests tailored specifically to home gardeners that will tell exactly which nutrients your soil is lacking and how you can amend it.
Many vegetables are heavy feeders that need frequent applications of fertilizer to produce healthy harvests. Fertilizer supplies the plant with essential nutrients needed for growth and reproduction while correcting imbalances caused by unfavorable soil conditions or insect pests. It’s essential that you follow label instructions when adding anything new to the soil to avoid overfertilization or depleting essential nutrient levels from it.
Vegetable plants take in essential nutrients through their roots from soil, then release those same nutrients back into it as they produce fruit or produce vegetables for consumption. Achieving balance with regard to these nutrients is what allows your vegetable garden to flourish, and adding organic fertilizers will replenish any lost nutrient levels and create the ideal conditions for cultivating your favorite veggies.
Most commercial granular fertilizers contain essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur and boron for added benefits. Granular fertilizers can be applied directly into topsoil using hand broadcasting or spreaders, or they can be side-dressed alongside rows for immediate planting of vegetables. It’s best to use these products after an especially heavy rain, which allows it to seep into their root zones more efficiently.
Foxfarm Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer offers an easy all-purpose vegetable fertilizer solution, featuring two thirds of required nitrogen as well as ingredients like bat guano, bone meal, kelp extracts and feather meal that promote healthy plant growth. Available in four pound bags.
Liquid fertilizers are water-soluble fertilizers that can be applied directly to the surface of soil or as foliar feed for plants. Following package instructions, mix liquid fertilizers with water before pouring or spraying onto topsoil or the leaves of plants. It’s always advisable to water thoroughly after applying any kind of fertilizer in hot weather as this helps vegetables absorb its nutrients more rapidly and easily.
Your vegetable seedlings were nurtured through winter, transplanted outdoors and taken care of like any garden should: watering, feeding and pulling weeds regularly. Now comes one final important step to ensure the success of your garden: fertilization. Knowing when and how often you fertilize will contribute significantly towards producing an abundant harvest.
Your plants’ soil should naturally provide some of the essential nutrients they require, though exactly how much will depend on its type and climate. Vegetables take in these nutrients from both sources; compost, humus and manure added as amendments will also contribute nutrients; though keep in mind that some types of soil absorb only certain levels of nutrition; sandy soils will need frequent fertilization more so than clay or muck soils.
When it comes to fertilization, following the recommendations of a good soil test kit is always best. A comprehensive soil test kit will identify whether there are deficient or surplus nutrient levels in your soil and what conditions need to be improved in order to promote healthy plant growth.
If you opt for fertilizers, granular ones should be worked into the soil prior to planting while liquid fertilizers should only be applied in summertime and need to be diluted before application so as not to damage plant roots.
If you choose to grow green manure crops like cowpeas, velvet beans and soybeans in the summer or cereal rye, crimson clover and Austrian winter pea in winter as green manures for your vegetable garden, it is also wise to till them into your soil prior to planting your veggies. Doing this helps break up and add nutrients while killing any pests or disease spores that have overwintered. Finally cover it all up with mulch that protects its structure as well as maintain moisture.