How To Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden

Fertilizer is an important part of a successful garden, but using the wrong one or using the right one the wrong way can cause problems. Overuse is one of the most common problems, especially in the case of slow-release fertilizers.

Slow release fertilizers are designed to release their nutrients over a period of time and if you apply them too often, you may wind up overlapping the new with the old that has not fully released yet.


Always make sure you read the directions for the fertilizers you're using in your garden. In most cases, they will say how often they should be applied.

There are 3 components to fertilizer: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They're rated by the amount of each of these ingredients. They will have a number, such as 20-20-20, which indicates how much of each is included. The first number is the nitrogen content, the second is the phosphorus and the third is the potassium.

Each of the three components of fertilizer promotes different types of growth. Nitrogen promotes leaf and stem growth, phosphorus helps with fruits and strong root systems and potassium helps to strengthen the plants.

Initially, a complete fertilizer will help to get your plants started properly. After growth has begun, be careful not to over-fertilize with nitrogen, which can make the plant put too much energy into growing leaves and stems, making the fruit growth suffer in turn.

There are many types of fertilizer available, some chemical based and others organic. Consider where you will be using them when choosing which type to use. If you're growing vegetables that you will be eating, you might want to think twice before using chemical fertilizers - after all, would you want to put that stuff in your body?

How To Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden

Dave Truman offers advice about choosing the right fertilizer and other vegetable gardening topics on the Vegetable Gardeners website. Get your free copy of our 3 special reports on getting your garden started right at