“Vegetable Garden Fertilizer”

When it comes to fertilizing the vegetable garden it seems everyone has an opinion, but very few gardeners add vegetable garden fertilizer using science.  Yes Science!  Some home gardeners we run across, even some professionals, tell us they add fertilizer because:

  • “…this is the way we did it growing up (in another part of the country) so why change”
  • “…the plants don’t look good so they must need fertilizer”
  • “…my neighbor said to use xyz fertilizer and apply it every xx days”
  • “…the guy at the garden center says to add a rounded fertilizer every month”
  • …last year could of been better so this year I am going to add more fertilizer & more often”
  • “…we just plant it and let god determine the outcome”

The best vegetable garden fertilizer depends on many, many factors. Many home gardeners are wasting hundreds of dollars per year adding fertilizers that are not needed.  Before adding any vegetable garden fertilizer smart gardeners know what fertilizer they are going to add and why.

“Why are You Adding Fertilizer?”

The only sure way to know if your soil needs more nutrients is to get it professionally tested. Your soils test results will tell you exactly what is going on with your soil.  For details on analytical soil test labs see Resources. 

Why waste your money on those soil test kits & testers when a professional soils test only costs about $35?  Not one of the soil testers or kits will give you accurate results.  We have tested all of them and they are useless!!!

“Feed the Soil, NOT the Plant!”

Your soils test results will tell you exactly what nutrients are abundant or lacking.  Your soils test will also tell you the most important thing you need to know about your soil including the soil pH.  For more details on soil pH and why it is tremendously important see Properties of Soil.

Here is a link to a partial soils test report we recently performed for a customer, Soil Analysis Report. Notice that in this report it is recommending to add only Nitrogen and slowly add Organic Matter over the next couple years.  Great!  Now what?  Where do I start the process to find the best nitrogen fertilizer?

Are you trying to garden organically or GMO free?  If so you need to understand which meaning of “Organic” you are talking about.  Organically produced food is a much different conversation than an Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer.  For details on certified organic food see How to Start Gardening.

“How to find a Vegetable Garden Fertilizer that is Organic!”

Fertilizer like mulch and soil is considered an “input” according to the National Organic Program, NOP.  Inputs are not regulated by NOP. There is another organization that manages inputs and the certification process for use in certified organic operations and that group is called Organic Materials Review Institute, OMRI.

In our sample soil analysis report it said we needed to add nitrogen.  To find something certified for use in organic food production go to OMRI and in the search box type “nitrogen” or any of the other names of nitrogen sources mentioned in the report.  You would do this same thing or other nutrients, or inputs, needed in your garden.

When shopping for a particular vegetable garden fertilizer look for the OMRI label.  omri sealIf you see it, then you know it is approved for use in the NOP.

“What is Organic Fertilizer?”

As mentioned the NOP manages the USDA Organic Food system.  When you see a food product with the label “USDA Organic” this means the food was grown according to the strict guidelines of the NOP.  When you see a vegetable garden fertilizer labeled “Organic” it has nothing to do with USDA Organic or the NOP.

From a chemistry perspective a general meaning of something organic is if it contains one or more Carbon-Hydrogen (C)-(H) bonds. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, motor oil, gasoline, and almost every pesticide is considered organic from a chemistry perspective. Don’t be fooled!

Now that you have found a fertilizer you want to use, make sure you follow your soils report application suggestions and not the directions on the back of the vegetable garden fertilizer container.

“I don’t have time for all this, can I hire The Bird Man to create a custom vegetable garden nutrient plan?”

YES!  We are for hire and we can create a custom input plan for any size garden. The plan will tell you what to add, when, and how much.  We will also show you how to make compost.  For more details on vegetable garden fertilizers contact The Bird Man anytime.

What Customers are saying about The Bird Man:


“For the past five years our garden seemed to be struggling. We contacted The Bird Man for help with what vegetable garden fertilizer to buy for our organic garden.  He quickly convinced us that we needed a professional soils test.  He helped us take a soil sample and send it in.  Turns out our pH was too low and we had plenty of nutrients in the soil already. Within a month our pH was perfect and we are enjoying the best garden we have ever had.”

Darrell & Sally – Kansas City, MO

 “We had been gardening all over the country for 50 years and five years ago moved to UT.  We installed a big garden, brought in organic dirt, used organic vegetable garden fertilizer, and planted organic seeds and plants.  The Bird Man taught us that there are many meanings of Organic. He helped us find the best organic vegetable garden fertilizer for our soil.” 
Cathy – Salt Lake City, UT

 “Four months ago we had our first child and we always wanted to grow our own organic food. We hired The Bird Man to help us plan and build our garden. He installed raised beds and an 8′ fence around it to keep the deer and our dogs out. He spent three days going around our area to find the best garden soil possible and had a full dump truck delivered and filled our raised beds. I would recommend every gardener call The Bird Man for all their gardening needs!”

Bob & Terri– Brighton, CO