Vegetables and nutrients

I have such a hard time realizing how MUCH I need to fertilize vegetables, conditioned by the sparse habits of native plants and their parsimonious ways. 

I always think I add plenty of compost, and dig in composted manure, and add Espoma organic fertilizer, etc. etc., but in looking at Jim Wilson's excellent new vegetable gardening book, obviously I'm not producing anything close to spinach and lettuce with the size of the leaves shown in the photos. Vegetables are definitely nutrient and water hogs, being domesticated, to be sure.  And then I see that he recommends a 1/2 cup of organic fertilizer at the base of each transplant.  Yikes.  No wonder my vegetables are modest in size.

It'll be interesting to see how the tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables do in the raised beds this summer in the mountains.  The 'soil' is essentially straight compost with additional composted manure.  I'll take a sample for a soil test this weekend and see what I have.  And I'll do the same for my Piedmont beds.

I think my leafy greens do well in flats because I've heavily amended the potting mix with organic fertilizer!
My guess is that in my home vegetable garden areas, the soil may have become somewhat depleted of nitrogen and other nutrients, since I haven't been adding lots of extra fertilizer (I do fertilize, but not a lot).  Adding mushroom compost,  composted cow manure, and homemade compost helps, but in our warmth and humidity, it decomposes quickly.


  1. Lisa,
    I have some Swiss Chard in two different locations, just stalled. Guess more organic fertilizer is needed. I added bone meal yesterday. Thanks for this post!

  2. Think I need to add something to my lettuces. I do have a worm bin, just haven't harvested any castings for a while...time to do it!!


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