Ask a Question forum: fertilizer on vegetable garden?

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Mar 13, 2015 4:57 PM CST
We have had a small vegetable garden for the past two years..the first year it did great, but last year the only that did good we're green we need to fertilize the soil this year before planting? We live close to a river so it can't b anything toxic
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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Mar 13, 2015 9:42 PM CST
Welcome, Anne, Welcome! and let's hope we can help you.

Veggies do take a lot of nutrients out of the soil, and all the water you use plus the heat also breaks down the organic material in your soil. So if you're going to plant the same small area every year, you do need to amend the soil each year, and most likely also fertilize to keep it rich enough to support your vegetables, so they will produce.

If you have a ready supply of compost - a lot of counties have composting programs and either sell it cheap or here they give it away free, if you load it yourself - that is the best possible amendment. Also the most cost-effective. Another great amendment I've tried just this year is alfalfa pellets, available at any feed store as horse food. Be sure if you buy this, it has no additives and is 100% alfalfa. It costs about $18 for a 50lb. bag. It works best if you mix it with water and let it absorb for a while, then dig the 'slush' into the whole garden really well. But just spreading the pellets and mixing it in, then watering works too.

Good for you for thinking about the possible runoff into the river! If you use a pelleted, time release fertilizer, it releases slowly and constantly for a good supply to your plants but very little if any excess to drain away. Look on the package for "lasts 4 months" or some other such statement. I use the Osmocote "Smart Release" Flower and vegetable formula for my whole garden. I'm sure other people will chime in with their recommendations, too.

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Name: Elfrieda
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida (Zone 10a)
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Mar 13, 2015 10:16 PM CST
Mushroom compost, or your own if you've started making it is great. Depending on the size of y our veggie garden, adding some cow manure which you can buy from the big box store might be good too. Not expensive.
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Mar 13, 2015 10:27 PM CST
Thank u
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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Mar 14, 2015 7:07 AM CST
Welcome! Angelaanne.

The addition of seaweed and/or fish emulsion also works well for feeding in runoff areas. It's typically sprayed directly on the plants for instant use.
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Mar 14, 2015 7:43 AM CST
Welcome! angelaanne Hurray! Hurray! Hurray for you being aware of the health of the river. Thank you.

The only thing I can add is that (in my experience) the free compost available from cities/towns/counties may have chemicals as the material is collected from all over the area and there are no controls. One year I has 100% positive results. The next year was an abject failure. I will not be adding the free compost to my vegetable garden ever again although I will still use it for the out of the way area in back to control weed growth.
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