There is nothing more delicious and refreshing than biting into a crisp and colorful vegetable grown in your very own garden. If you have had this experience, then you know that homegrown veggies are so much tastier and fresher than store bought vegetables. Choosing the right vegetable fertilizer can be confusing, because of the wide variety of fertilizers available. There are a few things to consider before making your selection.


What is a Vegetable Fertilizer?

Applying granular fertilizer on a soil

Choosing the ideal Vegetable Fertilizer for your garden can seem complex because there are so many options out there. It’s important to select a fertilizer specially blended for vegetables and not a typical lawn fertilizer. Vegetable fertilizers come in liquids, pellets, powders, stakes, and granules. There are natural and organic fertilizers as well as chemical or synthetic varieties. When it comes to selecting a vegetable fertilizer for your needs, it may just be what is easiest and most convenient for you, and what type of vegetable you are growing. But there are several things to think about before selecting the best fertilizer for vegetables.

Fertilizers have a series of 3 numbers on the label, and these numbers represent the amount of each macronutrient the fertilizer contains. The first number represents the percentage of Nitrogen (N), the second number represents the percentage of Phosphorous (P), and the third number represents the percentage of Potassium (K).

There Are a Variety of Different Vegetable Fertilizer types: 

  • For flowering veggies like tomatoes and squash, the percentage of Phosphorous should be the highest number.
  • For non-flowering veggies like carrots and lettuce, the Nitrogen content should be higher.
  • Whether you choose pellets, granules, a liquid solution, or another type, it comes down to how you feel most comfortable applying the fertilizer. If you have a larger garden, you may want to consider a liquid as it can be quickly sprayed across a large area.
  • Natural and organic fertilizers help condition and add nutrients to the soil.
  • Water soluble Vegetable Fertilizers are either concentrated or water-soluble powders that are absorbed quickly by the plant but need to be applied more frequently than slow-release types.
  • Slow-release fertilizers add nutrients to the soil over time and don’t need to be applied as frequently, but it will take a little longer until the plants are able to absorb the nutrients.
  • Worm castings are a popular type of Vegetable Fertilizer, and they release nutrients slowly allowing the soil to build up over time.


When To Fertilize Your Garden

A hand holding a bunch of soil

Starting with a soil test can be very beneficial. After this test, you’ll know what your soil needs to maintain a basic fertility level. In some cases, your soil may contain all the nutrients it needs for optimal growth, and the addition of a fertilizer can be detrimental. But once you understand the needs of your soil and the best times to fertilize, you will be on your way to a healthy garden with abundant yield.

Fertilizing your garden depends on what you are growing. If you are growing vegetables and crops that will be eaten, then the ideal time to fertilize is in the spring. You should fertilize at this time of year before you plant your seeds. The best way to fertilize soil in early Spring is with granular fertilizers and not liquids. If you’ll be planting perennial flowering plants, you should also fertilize in the spring before growth begins. While fertilizing in spring is a good general rule, each type of plant or crop may require a little something different.

Things to remember about when to apply fertilizers to your garden:

  • Spring is generally the best time to fertilize your garden but you should understand the subtleties
  • Ornamental trees and shrubs should be fertilized at the beginning of the growing season
  • For leafy greens like lettuce and kale, plant & fertilize in the early spring right after frosts end
  • For longer growing crops like corn and squash, fertilize at seeding and then again in early summer
  • Tomatoes and potatoes also need an extra fertilizer application mid-season
  • Tomatoes may need a mild nitrogen fertilizer once they start to flower
  • Blueberries need a fertilizer application in the very early season
  • Strawberries need fertilized after the harvest
  • Soil testing is low cost and very beneficial for establishing a healthy fertility level


Why Are Synthetic or Chemical Based Vegetable Fertilizers Not Recommended?

A pair of hands, one hand is  holding a synthetic the other one is holding an organic fertilizer

While you may receive instant gratification from fast acting chemical or synthetic fertilizers, all synthetic fertilizers can eventually damage plants and soil. The synthetic chemicals in fertilizers slowly leach nutrients from the soil and deteriorate it over time.

There are major differences between an organic vegetable fertilizer and synthetic fertilizers:

  • A natural or organic vegetable fertilizer is recommended for the ongoing health of the plant and the environment
  • Synthetic fertilizers give quick results but aren’t best for the long-term health of plants & soil
  • Synthetic fertilizers are more likely to burn of damage plants
  • Synthetic fertilizers rob the soil of nutrients over time
  • Synthetic fertilizers are not good for the environment
  • With some Synthetic fertilizers, you should wait a couple weeks before consuming the produce


What Are the Ingredients in Vegetable Fertilizers?  

List of ingredients in a vegetable fertilizer

Vegetable Fertilizers contain three macronutrients that all plants need – Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. Many also contain trace elements of magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and sulfur.

Vegetable Fertilizer Ingredients:  

  • Nitrogen is the essential element in plant cells and the building block of all amino acids, plant enzymes, DNA, and chlorophyll.
  • Phosphorous is needed for plant photosynthesis, the production of plant oils, sugars, and starches, root growth, and flower formation.
  • Potassium helps with photosynthesis, building proteins, and regulating water inside the plant.
  • Calcium, magnesium, sulfur along with the micro-nutrients, boron, copper, chloride, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc are found in some Vegetable Fertilizers.


What Are the Benefits of Vegetable Fertilizers?

As your vegetables grow, they take nutrients from the soil. In time, the soil will need more nutrients to continue to nourish your vegetables. Adding the best fertilizer for vegetables will help you maintain a healthy environment that will support your plants. But all fertilizers are not the same. Organic fertilizers put nutrients back into the soil. Chemical fertilizers are fast acting, but they do not add organic matter to the soil and therefore do not help rebuild the soil. For these reasons, organic fertilizers are the preferred method of fertilization for vegetables and other plants as well.

There are many reasons why organic Vegetable Fertilizers are advantageous:

  • They add necessary organic matter to your soil.
  • They improve soil structure.
  • They add soil microbes.
  • They help fight against disease.
  • They contribute macro and micro-nutrients.
  • They add slow but continuous release of nutrients to the soil.
  • They are more widely available than in the past.
  • They do not rob the soil of nutrients or kill beneficial microbes.
  • They allow you to immediately consume vegetables if you like.


How to Use Vegetable Fertilizers?

A man applying vegetabel fertilizer in a vegetable garden using a sprayer

Since there are so many different types of Vegetable Fertilizers, it is important to determine what type will work best for you. You may want to get a soil test to identify any deficiencies before selecting your NPK percentages.

Here's how to use a Vegetable Fertilizer properly: 

  • Identify the type – granular, liquid, pellets, etc. that you feel most comfortable using
  • Consider a soil test to identify any deficiencies in your soil
  • Carefully read the mix application instructions
  • If selecting a liquid Vegetable Fertilizer, it is best to use a sprayer for an even application
  • Fertilizing should be done in the spring prior to planting, but liquid fertilizers can be applied throughout the season
  • Organic liquid fertilizers can be applied every few weeks for a constant supply of nutrients
  • Do not apply synthetic fertilizers after planting as they may burn seedlings



Different kinds of vegetable and two variants of PetraTools vegetable fertilizer on the table

Many lawn and garden companies have introduced Vegetable Fertilizers to their line of products. There are a wide variety to choose from, but if you want an excellent, all-purpose, organic Vegetable Fertilizer, PetraTools’ Organic Vegetable Fertilizer – General Liquid Vegetable Fertilizer is by far the best choice for overall quality, effectiveness, and significant improvement in production yields.

PetraTools’ Organic Vegetable Fertilizer:

  • Is great for all plant sizes from starter to mature plants
  • Promotes healthy plants and rebuilds soil
  • Increases yield production and crop size
  • Is 100% organic
  • Provides amino acids and micro-nutrients
  • Improves the absorption of nutrients
  • Is completely safe for the environment with no harsh chemicals or heavy metals
  • Remains in the soil longer than traditional fertilizers
  • Produces more roots for greater nutrient uptake and water penetration
  • Prevents plant disease and enhances resistance
  • Contains liquid seaweed, corn, and American fish that promote healthy plants and better harvests
  • Works great for indoor and outdoor plants and vegetation
  • Is ideal for greenhouses, hydroponics, gardens, and farms
  • Is offered by a family-owned, American business with outstanding customer support


If you want to grow healthy veggies that will ‘wow’ your family, friends, and neighbors, you are going to need a Vegetable Fertilizer. Check out your soil, choose the type and variety of fertilizer that works for you, and you will soon yield beautiful and colorful vegetables right in your own backyard.