Fertilization


garden• Most vegetables require full sun to grow well. A few crops (beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, onions, radish, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips) will produce well in part sun.

• Vegetables grow well when soil pH is 6.0-6.8, but some vegetables tolerate a higher pH.

• Most vegetables grow best in soil that has been loosened and amended with organic matter.

• Base yearly fertilization on the results of a soil test. The information in the soil test results will let you make intelligent decisions about fertilizing your garden, save money by avoiding fertilizer applications that are not needed, and help you reduce environmental pollution by avoiding excess fertilizer that runs off and pollutes streams and lakes. Use a fertilizer low in phosphorus unless the soil test indicates phosphorus levels are low and recommends addition of phosphorus.

• In the absence of soil test results, base yearly fertilization on past experience. ! If the vegetable garden has produced well in the past or was used to grow other plants that were fertilized regularly, apply 0.1-0.15 lb actual N per 100 square feet. Select a fertilizer low in phosphorus. ! If the area has never been used as a garden and there is no reason to believe fertility is high, apply a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, applying 0.1-0.15 lb actual N per 100 square feet. Some references recommend using fertilizers with an N-P-K ratio of about 1-4-4 for this initial fertilization. For example, if you are using a fertilizer with an analysis of 5-20-20, you would apply 2-3 lb of fertilizer per 100 square feet.

• Fertilizer used in the vegetable garden can be organic or processed fertilizers. Please note: be very cautious about using manure in the vegetable garden. Manure can contain disease organisms (pathogens) that will make you sick. Avoid using fresh manure where you grow root or low-growing food plants such as lettuce. Incorporate all fresh manure into the soil at least four months before harvesting the vegetables. Thoroughly cooking foods will kill the pathogens that adhere to leaves and roots.