Vegetable Garden Fertilizer -

How Important is it to your Backyard Vegetable Garden and Healthy Vegetables

Using a vegetable garden fertilizer is necessary because it provides plants with food. And ignoring the importance of vegetable fertilizers may result in…

  • plants that are stunted in growth
  • poor roots (especially if you’re growing root vegetables like potatoes)
  • Diseases and…
  • Low yields

It is also important to become acquainted with the different types of fertilizers and how they affect the development of the crop.

For example…

You don’t want to be growing potatoes and using a fertilizer that is suited for leaves. This would mean that the leaves of the potatoes plant will become healthy and strong at the expense of the potatoes themselves.

And this is not the result you’re looking for. You’re not interested in the potato leaves but rather the potato roots or tubers.

So it makes more sense to use fertilizers that are suitable for the type of vegetable that you’re growing.

So let’s begin by looking at…

The 3 Main Vegetable Plant Foods

These are…

  1. Nitrogen. This nutrient is a leaf fertilizer. In other words it promotes healthy green leafy growth.

    And guess what? This nutrient is the most lacking in most types of soil.

    Therefore… when it comes to growing leafy vegetables like lettuce for instance, look out for signs of nitrogen deficiency. These signs include the yellowing and dropping off of leaves and the stunted growth of the plants.

    If this is happening to your crop then you’ll definitely need a vegetable garden fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen.

  2. Phosphorus. This nutrient is a root fertilizer. It’s also responsible for the flowering of plants and fruiting. In other words…

    It is appropriate for root vegetables as well as vegetable fruits like tomatoes and pumpkin etc.

    A shortage of this nutrient, stunted growth as well as a low crop yield is indicated by dull green leaves with a purplish tint.

  3. Potassium. This nutrient produces sturdy and strong plants by regulating their blend of protein and starches. It also boosts the plants’ resistance to disease, heat and cold.

    Needless to say a lack of this nutrient leads to disease, low vegetable yield and weak plants.

    However, too much potassium is also hurtful. Leaves turn brown as a result of fertilizer burns from too much potassium.

Sources of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium in Organic Fertilizers

Organic vegetable garden fertilizer is usually high in one of the 3 major nutrients. In other words…one organic fertilizer may contain only nitrogen while another contains only potassium.

So here’s a list of nitrogen rich organic fertilizers…

  • Seaweed Meal

  • Blood Meal
  • Cottonseed Meal

What’s rich in Phosphorus?

  • Bone Meal

Potassium sources…

  • Ground Rock Potash
  • Ground Rock Basalt or Granite
  • Wood Ash

Buying Vegetable Garden Fertilizers - How to Read the Labels

Deciding upon which fertilizer to buy can be a bit overwhelming (especially if you’re a first time buyer). So here’s how you can narrow it down…

The key is in the label.

Each nutrient has its own symbol.

  • Nitrogen is symbolized by (N)
  • Phosphorus is symbolized by (P), and…
  • Potassium is symbolized by (K)

Thus it is these 3 symbols to be on the lookout for. Being able to see and understand what these labels mean is a great advantage. It cuts down on time and can even give you a sense of a higher gardening IQ, doesn’t it?

OK, now let’s look at the ratio of N-P-K in the fertilizers.

In that order (N-P-K) if you come across a fertilizer that is 10-5-2 what does this tell you?

Well this states that…

  • 10% is Nitrogen
  • 5% is phosphorus, and…
  • 2% is potassium

It’s pretty simple. So I guess if you’re looking for a vegetable garden fertilizer for your cabbages, then this would be appropriate (remember nitrogen is a leaf fertilizer).

So in the same order (N-P-K)…a fertilizer that is 5-5-5, what does this mean?

Well it means that this is a balanced fertilizer. All nutrients are in equal percentages. You’ll most likely find this sought of ratio in all purpose fertilizers.

The two examples above are examples of complete fertilizers. That’s because they contain all 3 nutrients.

However, there are also incomplete fertilizers. These fertilizers contain 2 or less nutrients. They are more suitable for specific jobs. For instance…

If you’ve got a crop that’s showing signs of nitrogen deficiency…then applying an incomplete fertilizer that contains nitrogen only is a better decision.

Quick and Easy Fertilizing

Using organic fertilizer like bone meal and sea weed, is one way of cutting down on time and effort. All you can do is simply scatter the fertilizer and allow microorganisms to break them down.

As the fertilizers are broken down, the nutrients (N), (K), (P) are released.

These organic fertilizers also last longer in the soil. That’s because they are not soluble (meaning they are not dissolved and washed away from the soil like chemical fertilizers).

As a matter of fact…a handful of organic fertilizers per square meter are sufficient for 2 years.

Now the only disadvantage is that the level of (N), (K) and (P) in organic fertilizers is lower than that of chemical fertilizers.

Also, organic fertilizers attract wildlife. For example…bone meal attracts foxes into your garden. These foxes dig up the soil and damage crops while looking for the bone.

New Slow Release Fertilizers that also Make the Job Quick and Easy

There are some vegetable garden fertilizer products that allow a controlled-release of fertilizers. They come in granular form and is coated with resin.

It works like this…

The fertilizer is only released when the soil is moist. But when it’s dry these granules withhold the nutrients. This method of fertilizing only when it’s wet or damp is also best practice for the best returns after fertilizing.

Thus the granules have the ability to fertilize and also determine when to fertilize. This way you can simply add the granules to the garden and relax knowing that the vegetables are properly taken care of.


I guess we have looked at vegetable garden fertilizer in detail. We’ve learnt what are the major nutrients enjoyed by plants as well as their sources.

We’ve also discussed how to read the labels of fertilizers when buying them as well as determining whether we need a complete or incomplete fertilizer for vegetables.

Finally we have also looked at the quick and easy way of fertilizing.

I do hope the information gathered from this page will serve you well in your gardening endeavors.

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