If you have a vegetable garden, you probably already know you need the right fertilizer if you want the biggest, best harvest. The thing is, there are so many options out there, it’s not easy to find the right one.
We put together this review of the best fertilizer for vegetable garden to help you figure out what to look for and how to choose. Plus, we included reviews of ten of the best products available.
Table of Contents
Fertilizer Options For Your Vegetable Garden
Before you decide which fertilizer is right for you, the best thing you can do is test your soil so you know what type of fertilizer you need. Like with most plants, you need to consider the NPK ratio but there are a lot of other things to consider with a vegetable garden.
Vegetable gardens require a lot of other nutrients to grow healthy and give you the best and most delicious veggies. That’s why it’s so important to use a fertilizer that’s meant specifically for vegetable gardens. Generally, there are two basic types to choose from: organic and synthetic.
Synthetic fertilizers include man-made ingredients. Some contain nutrients that are used by the plant right away. Others are created to release the nutrients slowly over a longer period of time. Some use a combination of both.
When looking at synthetic fertilizers, pay attention to the NPK ratio. This is the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Most vegetables like a balanced ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 but some, like leafy greens, need only nitrogen and others need more potassium.
There are plenty of organic fertilizers available, too. One of the best things about organic fertilizers is it’s really hard to overuse them. While overdoing it with synthetic fertilizers can burn the roots and cause significant damage, this is typically isn’t the case with organic options.
Another thing to consider is what form of fertilizer you prefer. Liquid fertilizer is, for the most part, short-acting. It’s usually applied to the soil or waterline but some formulas can be applied directly to the leaves. Some formulas are powders that are meant to be dissolved in water and used the same way.
Another option is granular fertilizer. Typically, this type is meant for extended-release. Nutrients are released from the granules slowly. With some formulas, a single application lasts for four months or more.
The 10 Best Fertilizers For Your Vegetable Gardens
Now that you know a little more about what to look for, take a look at our picks for the 10 best products available.
|Pictures||Vegetable Garden Fertilizers||Fertilizer Analysis||Links|
|Miracle-Gro 2000422 Plant Food||18-18-21||Buy on Amazon|
|Jobe's 09026NA Plant Food Vegetables & Tomato||2-5-3||Buy on Amazon|
|Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Flower & Vegetable||14-14-14||Buy on Amazon|
|Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food||10-5-15||Buy on Amazon|
|Fox Farm FX14049 Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula||2-8-4; 6-4-4; 0.01-0.3-0.7||Buy on Amazon|
|Liquid Kelp Extract Seaweed Fertilizer Concentrate||0.3-0.0-0.6||Buy on Amazon|
|Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer||1-0-0||Buy on Amazon|
|Neptune's Harvest Organic Hydrolized Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer||2-3-1||Buy on Amazon|
|JR Peters Jacks Classic All Purpose Fertilizer||20-20-20||Buy on Amazon|
|Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer||4-6-3||Buy on Amazon|
Vegetable Garden Fertilizer Reviewed
1. Miracle-Gro 2000422 Plant Food
Miracle-Gro is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to gardening so its no surprise that their tomato plant food is one of the best choices for your garden. Even though it says “tomato” on the label, don’t worry, you can use it with all vegetables.
Something that’s really great about this fertilizer is that you can use it on container plants and seedlings or in your backyard garden. It has an NPK of 18-18-21 and the 1.5-pound package should last awhile – you only need a scoopful for each application.
When used as directed, this formula will not burn your plants. It starts to work instantly and gives you bigger and better vegetables. For best results, feed your garden once every one to two weeks. You can apply with a watering can or a Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder.
2. Jobe’s 09026NA Plant Food Vegetables & Tomato
If you prefer a granular fertilizer that’s also organic, take a look at this product from Jobe’s Organics. This fast-acting formula is great for all vegetables and approved for organic gardening by the USDA. That means no synthetic chemicals and natural ingredients plus it’s biodegradable, sustainable, and renewable.
This fertilizer contains Jobe Biozome, a special blend of microorganisms like healthy bacteria, fungi, and Archaea. This breaks down the material so that plants can use it faster. Not only do you see results fast but it improves the soil which helps your plants resist drought, insects, and disease throughout the season.
You can get this fertilizer in a 1.5, four, or 16-pound bag so you can order just what you need for your garden. There are detailed instructions on the package for container gardening, seeds, seedlings, and established plants.
3. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Flower & Vegetable
For anyone who prefers a slow-release fertilizer, Osmocote is a must-have. Not only is it formulated for vegetables and perennials but one application lasts for up to four full months. Plus, because it comes in an eight-pound bag, enough to get you through the whole growing season.
This plant food promotes top-growth as well as strong root development for healthy, robust plants. How does it work? The granules have a semi-permeable resin coating. Water penetrates the coating and dissolves the nutrients inside.
As the temperature changes, nutrients are released into the soil. So, when the warmer growing season hits and your garden gets very active, it gets more of what it needs to thrive. The application is easy, just sprinkle the fertilizer onto the soil, mix it into the top few inches, and water regularly. Reapply every four months as needed.
4. Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food
Here’s another great product from Miracle-Gro that’s made for your vegetable garden. It’s great for tomatoes and fruit, too. One application lasts up to three months. You can get it in a one or 4.5-pound container, too, so you can get what you need to cover your garden.
This fertilizer uses natural ingredients to feed the microbes in the soil which helps to ensure long-term health by support strong roots and water efficiency. There are also micronutrients and calcium that encourage your plants to produce more crops.
You can use this fertilizer for in-ground plants or containers. To apply, just remove the seal, replace the applicator cap, and open the spout. Apply the dry granules to the soil, avoiding stems, then mix into the top one to three inches. Water and you’re ready to go.
5. Fox Farm FX14049 Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula
This trio from Fox Farm is a perfect choice for a vegetable garden. The great thing about this set is that it lets you tailor the fertilized you’re using to what your plants need at the time. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all fertilizer. It’s meant to cover the whole growth cycle.
You get a bottle of Big Bloom liquid fertilizer that provides nutrients that your plants can use right away. It contains earthworm castings and bat guano plus it’s registered safe for organic gardening. Use this with all the fruiting plants.
Grow Big promotes lush growth so your plants are bigger, stronger, and produce more fruits and buds. Plus, its low pH makes sure micronutrients more available.
Last but not least, you get a bottle of Tiger Bloom which encourages vigorous growth and is safe to use in both soil and hydroponic applications. Add it at the first sign of flowering until harvest.
6. Liquid Kelp Extract Seaweed Fertilizer Concentrate
A great liquid organic option is this kelp extract from GS Plant Food. It’s one of the highest quality seaweed products available, derived from Ascophyllum Nodosum harvested in Norway. This is a natural plant food that has a lot of benefits for your garden.
Not only does this fertilizer improve root development and seeding but it also helps increase the size of blooms and fruits. Your plants will be better equipped to handle extreme weather and other stressful conditions. They’ll be greener, stronger, and better able to handle disease and attacks from insects.
You can use this product alone or pair it with a high-quality fish fertilizer for even better results. In addition to being great for gardens, you can also use it with seedlings and houseplants. Best of all, because it’s all-natural, it won’t damage your plants, even if you overuse it which makes it a really safe choice.
7. Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer
A lot of fertilizers use earthworm castings as an ingredient but Wiggle Work Soil Builder takes it to the next level. It’s made of pure earthworm castings and works well with just about any type of plant, from your vegetable garden to your potted houseplants.
Earthworm castings are completely natural and balanced to provide immediate nutrients to your plants as well as enrich the soil to slowly feed your plants over a longer period of time. It’s non-toxic, odor-free, all-natural, and won’t burn your plants if you use too much.
This fertilizer does a lot for the soil by improving aeration and promoting drainage to help prevent root rot. You only need to use a little bit with each application so this 15-pound bag should give you a lot of coverage. It’s extremely cost-effective and really works.
8. Neptune’s Harvest Organic Hydrolized Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer
Neptune’s Harvest liquid fertilizer is one of the more versatile fertilizers out there and a wonderful choice for your garden. It’s easy to mix and can be applied with a watering can, sprayer, or at the drip line.
This natural and organic fertilizer is derived from fish and seafood. For vegetables, the brand recommends using one ounce of fertilizer for every gallon of water and applying every two weeks or so. The large 36-ounce bottle should last a while, depending on how much ground you’re covering.
You can either saturate the soil or spray directly onto the leaves for foliar feeding by saturating the top and bottom of the leaves. If you choose to foliar feed, do it either early in the morning or late in the day so the leaves aren’t too wet in the direct sunshine.
9. JR Peters Jacks Classic All Purpose Fertilizer
If you prefer an all-purpose fertilizer, check out this one from Jack’s Classic. It feeds through the roots and leaves and has been proven effective in vegetable gardens for decades. Plus, you can use it on your indoor plants, too.
The balanced 20-20-20 NPK ratio encourages rapid leaf expansion and healthy, deep green leaves. For outdoor applications, use one tablespoon per gallon of water. A handy measuring spoon and detailed instructions are included.
This product comes in a large 1.5-gallon resealable tub that makes storage really easy. If you prefer to order in bulk, it’s also available in multipacks of two or four so you can cover more ground and save a little bit of money.
JR Peters has been in business since 1947 and has a history of producing great products. If you’re looking for good, all-purpose fertilizer, this is one you can trust.
10. Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
This vegetable garden fertilizer from Dr. Earth is made with 100% organic and natural ingredients. It has no GMOs, sewage sludge, or chicken manure and is OMRI listed for organic farming. The package includes detailed application instructions for various plants, including peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, beans, and lettuce.
Another great thing about this product is its versatility. It’s formulated to feed both vegetable gardens and container plants. You can also use it when planting seedlings or transplanting plants and it can be used for both summer and winter crops. Your plants will be healthier and the veggies that produce even more delicious.
This formula contains a range of food-grade natural ingredients and is sustainably made in the USA. This four-pound bag goes a long way but you can buy in bulk if you prefer. Packs of two, three, and four-packs are available.
When to Apply Fertilizer to Vegetable Garden?
Whether you’re just starting a garden or getting ready to replant, the best time to fertilize is in the spring. If you have done a soil test and know you have a lot of changes to make before it’s safe to plant, start early so you can get the fertilizer deep down into the soil before you begin.
If your soil is okay, it’s still a good idea to fertilize in the spring but you don’t need to worry about leaving extra time. Using a general, all-purpose fertilizer before planting is a good idea. You may even want to consider one that’s a little higher in nitrogen.
When your plants start to grow more rapidly, you usually need to add more fertilizer. The plants are basically ramping up activity at this time and use up more of the available nutrients. When you need to worry about this depends on the plant.
Some plants, like lettuce, grow rapidly pretty early in the season. On the other hand, plants like squash, corn, tomatoes, and potatoes grow fastest in the middle of the summer. They may need an extra boost at that time.
If you use an extended-release fertilizer, it may be enough to last throughout the whole season. Follow the package instructions and keep an eye on the plants to make sure they appear healthy. The only way to be sure your soil is good is to test it and make adjustments as needed throughout the summer.
As for what time of day to apply fertilizer, that also depends. With an extended-release fertilizer, you don’t have to worry about it. The fertilizer is already in the soil, just make sure you water thoroughly and you’re good to go.
For short-acting fertilizers, it’s generally better to add them to the water and apply in the morning or late in the day. Avoid applying fertilizer in the middle of the day when the sun is hottest and dryest, especially if the summer has been particularly dry.
If you’re applying the fertilizer directly to the leaves, always do it early in the morning or late in the day. Applying this type of fertilizer in the height of the day’s heat when the sunlight is bright and direct can burn the leaves and cause significant damage to the plant.
All that said, it’s best to follow the directions that are included with your fertilizer as each one is a little different.
How Often Should You Fertilize a Vegetable Garden?
If you’re planning to plant different seasonal things, you have to do a little bit of work year-round. After you’ve harvested everything at the end of the season and before the ground gets too hard to till, add a slow-release balanced fertilizer to the soil.
Gently work it into the top few inches and then cover the area. A layer of thick mulch works well for this. It provides food for worms on the surface which keeps the soil aerated. Over the winter, the slow-release fertilizer replenishes the nutrients the garden used up in the summer.
As we said, in the spring, it’s time to add some balanced fertilizer for the beginning of the growing season. If you fertilized in the winter, you might not need to do this but, again, the only way to know for sure is to test the soil.
Fertilize again in the summer. When you do this depends on the type of vegetables you’re growing. If you’re not planting until the summer, add a balanced slow-release fertilizer. Test the soil as needed to make sure you get it right.
If the summer is particularly hot or dry, your garden will need a little bit of extra attention. Hot, dry soil makes it harder for the plants to use the available nutrients and you may need to add some magnesium.
Fall crops don’t need as much fertilization because their growing season is shorter. You can add quick-release fertilizer as needed every few weeks. Once you get a frost, though, stop fertilizing. The plants will be stressed because of the cold temperature and too much fertilizer can kill them.
You should always follow the directions that are included with the fertilizer you choose. Slow-release fertilizers should only be applied once a season while short-acting should be applied every few weeks. Each brand is a little different so it’s important to make sure you’re using yours the right way.
All plants need fertilizer but vegetable gardens are special. Rapid growth takes a lot out of the soil. To grow healthy plants that produce an abundance of big, delicious veggies, you need to use the best vegetable garden fertilizer.
There are a few things to consider. Do you prefer synthetic or organic? Short-acting or extended-release? Liquid or granules? There are a lot of different products to choose from. Luckily, the products we reviewed cover a wide range of options and are all highly recommended.
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