You can’t expect outstanding year upon year results from your garden without keeping the soil healthy and happy.
We’ve talked about healthy soil elsewhere on this site, but its worth reiterating that your vegetables need fertile, well-drained soil to grow. It needs to be mostly free of stones, have lots of organic matter, and it needs to have the proper balance of nutrients.
Photo courtesy of mezuni at Flickr.com.
I’ll be honest. My method of fertilizing may seem a bit unorthodox. But it’s easy, and it works. While there are any number of fertilizers you can add to your garden (and I’ll talk about these below), I find the best way to a really productive garden is to make sure it gets plenty of organic matter. To me that means manure and compost.
After I’ve harvested the last of my veggies from my garden boxes, I toss scraps straight from my kitchen (I don’t turn the soil) into the garden, spread it out and cover it with about 2 inches of steer manure. Then I soak it and cover it with a thin layer of straw. In the spring, I simply peel back the straw, plant and put the straw back around the seedlings as mulch.
It works for me. But there are other ways of doing this.
There are about sixteen essential nutrients your garden must have to be successful. These include carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, chlorine, manganese, boron, zinc, copper and molybdenum. Fortunately, most of these are readily available in the soil, water and air. There are many types of soil testing kits available and may be worth getting if you suspect some sort of deficiency in your garden. Once you have identified a particular need, there are a number of commercial fertilizers available.
But again, I would recommend sticking with organic products – and the best organic fertilizer is from your compost pile. Alternatives are composted animal manure, potash, phosphorus and/or lime. All of these are easily available from your local organic gardening supply store.