Fertilizing a vegetable garden

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The type of soil and nutrients you use in your vegetable garden will determine the amount of yield, quality and size that your garden will produce.

The amount of water you give the garden also plays an important factor in the end result. Too much or too little water will not give the best results you want.

Organic tomatoes

The best soil for most vegetables grown in the backyard.

First of all vegetables, as well as most plants’ overall, prefer a well draining soil. Soil that is very sandy will drain to fast and a soil that has a lot of clay in it will drain to slow. Depending on what type of climate you live in and what time of year it is you may have to water a couple of times of week or just once in a while. It will just depend on how much rainfall you get during your growing season.

Once you have used the same soil for several years, either in an in-ground garden, raised bed garden or even it pots, the nutrients in the soil begin to deplete which will cause less quantity and quality of the vegetables grown. You can use an organic fertilizer, like Fox Farms, or a chemical fertilizer, like Miracle Grow, to replenish the lost nutrients.

While there are many different types of soil on the market a soil rich in organic matter is the best you can use to grow vegetables. Organic fertilizer is a carbon-based compound which means it comes from decomposing tree leaves, lawn clippings, dead insects, plant matter and are the byproducts of natural organisms and contains essential nutrients for new plants to grow. After they die their decomposition, due to fungus and bacteria, leads them to produce nutrients that can be used to repeat the cycle and grow new and healthy plants.

organically grown vegetables

NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and are the big 3 nutrients all plants need.

Nitrogen (N) leads to very good leaf growth, which is a precursor as to how well the plant will grow overall, so it should be used at the beginning of the growth cycle. As a plant matures and flowers it will need less and less nitrogen.

Phosphorus (P) works great for growth of seeds, roots, flowers and fruit and should be used mostly at the beginning and the middle of the plants’ life cycle.

Potassium (K) works best for water circulation in the plant, substantial stem growth and encouragement of fruiting and flowering like when you see your tomatoes or bell peppers plants start to flower. It should be used mostly towards the end of the plants life cycle.

Each one of these nutrients plays an important part in different stages of the plants’ growth with each playing a crucial part at that point of development. That is why liquid, organic fertilizers with different NPK ratios work better than a chemically made fertilizer with no NPK variation.

Also, needed to develop healthy abundant vegetables are other macro nutrients. These consist of, among other things but not limited to, calcium, magnesium and sulfur. These nutrients help with thong like great leaf development, plant growth, cell division, chlorophyll production and a strong root system.

Also, needed, to a lesser extent, but still important for a healthy plant are boron, copper, chloride, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.

Fortunately you can add macro nutrients and micro nutrients by using an organic soil compound, organic compost, bat guano or earthworm castings.

Organic soil

The PH of the soil is also very important for ultimate plant growth. The PH is a measurement of how acidic or alkaline the soil is. It is calculated on a scale of 1 to 14 with 7 being neutral. Most vegetable plants grow best in a slightly acidic soil around 6-7.

The reason PH is so important is that the plant roots are able to absorb nutrients at the best possible rate when the soil is slightly acidic. When the PH is too high or to low it will still be able to take up the nutrients but problems like curling and yellowing leaves will happen and overall the plant will not grow as good as it could. Fortunately using organic soil and pure water will help keep the growing area in a neutral PH.

Photosynthesis is the operation of a plant taking in solar energy from the sun and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into chemical energy, mainly carbohydrates and chlorophyll, which the plant uses to grow. A byproduct of this process is oxygen, which all mammals need to survive, who then exhale carbon dioxide into the atmosphere so the cycle can repeat itself. Without photosynthesis there would be no life on earth.

Plant roots do need water and the nutrients you provide in the water or in the soil but they also need to be allowed to dry out between waterings. That is why scheduled waterings, where water is added in the same amount on the same days, may not work.

Just like plant leaves need carbon dioxide to make food for the plant roots need oxygen to maintain their health, gather nutrients and to keep from rotting. This is why well draining soil is a must for an abundant garden.

Even plants that have adapted to live in water get air to there roots from the water movement causing air bubbles to circulate around the plant.

Chemical synthetic fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers

While organic fertilizers come from completely natural sources, such as dead organisms and plant matter, chemical fertilizers come from inorganic, or better stated, synthetic or artificial sources.

Chemical fertilizers do work for plants. They are affordable, easy to use and do have the nutrients the plants need however there are some drawbacks to using them.

-They do not breakdown or are absorbed as easily as organic fertilizers.

-When you water nitrogen has a tendency to get washed away quicker.

-Chemical fertilizers contain salts and other compounds that are absorbed by your vegetables and will build up a residue. This is not good for the garden at all. Over time these compounds will build up and can alter the makeup of your garden soil and even turn it toxic.

Miracle Gro

A very popular and well-known brand of soil fertilizers is Miracle Gro. Whil
e they do have some organic fertilizers on the market most of their line of products contain chemical and synthetic fertilizers.

Organic fertilizers v
ersus chemical fertilizers

After reading this article you should be able to come to an understanding about how much better organic fertilizers are for you than chemical or synthetic fertilizers.

Fertilizers are the food that your vegetables take in which in turn is the food that you eat. Adding extra chemicals to their food gets passed on to you which in turn your body has to deal with.

Growing vegetables in a backyard garden that provides food for you and your family is a great way to take in the vitamins and minerals to keep healthy. The healthier the vegetables are grown means the healthier they are for you.

We provide relevant content and relevant products for backyard gardeners. The small commissions we make through this website help to maintain it. Below is a list of products to help you grow a bountiful vegetable garden.

Fox Farm Trio of Nutrients<


Fox Farm Ocean Forest<




5 thoughts on “Fertilizing a vegetable garden

  1. I am curious, if I do not have the Fox Farm brand available to me, I should look for an organic fertilizer right? Is there anything else I need to look for? My soil is very sandy … well all sand … so do I need to mix in an organic soil as well? I just bought this house and would sure like to get a vegetable garden started. Thanks!

    1. If it is all sand you should definitely add some organic soil and compost to it. You could try one of the home improvement centers to find the soil and additives you could use. Read the labels and make sure there are no chemicals or additives in it,

  2. Your website is very informative and very appealing, I like gardening but only have flower beds. My parents had a large garden and I would think fertilizers all those years ago were so much different to what they are today. Choosing the right fertilizer is very important. I have to honest I have never used any myself.
    Your website will help a lot of people and those who are just starting out.

    1. Thank you for the compliment. Just like everything else these days gardening and gardening products are very commercialized. With more and more people to feed each day I guess it has to be. Just make sure what you are buying, as far as soil and fertilizers, is as natural and organic as you can find.

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