If you want to plant a successful vegetable garden, then you probably know that you need to prepare the soil properly before you see any growth. This involves tilling the earth to loosen the ground so water can flow properly to the plant roots. Once the ground is loose enough, you need to add fertilizer as well. It may seem like a daunting task to choose just the right product from the hundreds of landscape supplies available. You can pick the right product though, with the help of some of the suggestions below.
Look at Nutrient Content
The fertilizer you add to your soil is meant to supply your plants with the nutrients they need, and this means you need to look at the nutrient content when choosing your product. Nutrients are usually separated into three separate categories that include macronutrients, secondary nutrients, and micronutrients. Macronutrients include the substances that are vital for good plant growth. They include nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. The nitrogen helps with the growth of strong leaves and the development of green chlorophyll. The potassium helps to protect the plants from potentially harmful diseases, and phosphorous helps with root growth.
The secondary nutrients in fertilizers include magnesium and calcium. Magnesium is essential to the formation of chlorophyll, much like nitrogen, and calcium helps with the formation of strong cells across the plant. The micronutrients contained in fertilizer products include copper, zinc, boron, iron, and a variety of other materials. These nutrients also help with plant growth and health, but they are not as essential as the macronutrients and secondary nutrients.
Reading Fertilizer Bags
Fertilizer bags are typically labeled with bold numbers on the front, and these numbers indicate the amount of macronutrients in the material. The first number corresponds to the amount of nitrogen, the second to phosphorous, and the third to potassium content. These numbers correspond directly to the percentage of the material in the fertilizer bag.
If you have completed a soil test on your property, then you may know if your soil needs more of one of the nutrients than another. If one of these tests have not been completed, then consider choosing a bag with a 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 label. This will allow you to add an abundant amount of nutrients to the soil without increasing the nitrogen a great deal, since too much nitrogen can actually burn new plants. Once you locate the right grade of fertilizer, also look at the ingredient list to make sure that all vital secondary nutrients and micronutrients are included.
Do Not Forget the Weed Killers
If you do not want weeds taking advantage of all the nutrients you have added to your vegetable garden, then make sure your fertilizer also contains a weed killing agent. Since you will be planting vegetables in the soil, you should opt for a fertilizer that contains a pre-emergent type of weed killer. These substances kill the weed seeds in the soil and prevent them from growing.
The best application of the pre-emergent is in the spring before any seeds have germinated. The chemicals will not harm any established plants, so you are safe to plant vegetables afterwards. However, if you want to use seeds, then you need to wait until the pre-emergent herbicide breaks down. This usually happens within about six to eight weeks. If this is the case, then you will also want to invest in a selective herbicide that will target weeds in the garden as your vegetables start to grow.
If you want a successful vegetable garden with lush and healthy plants, then it is wise to make sure the soil contains enough nutrients to support plant growth. Fertilizers are a great option for this, and the tips above will help you to choose the right product for your needs.