Conducting a soil test for fertility of a vegetable garden is the most accurate method for controlling the soil's nutritional level. In some cases, the analysis may be broken down into two categories: starting and maintenance fertilizer applications. Starting fertilizers are applied before vegetable plantings, while maintenance fertilizers are applied to growing plants. The optimum time for application of the recommended amounts of fertilizer is during the initial tilling or cultivation stage. After vegetables are planted and growing well, other techniques must be employed to feed nutrients to developing plants.
Follow the recommend amounts and application rates as provided by the soil test results. Most soil test analyses state amounts of fertilizer required for specific vegetables.
Make a furrow, using the handle of the garden rake, 3 inches to either side of the growing vegetable plant row. The furrow must be 2 to 3 inches deep. Exercise caution not to disturb the vegetable roots when creating the fertilizer furrow.
Apply the recommend amounts based upon the soil test analysis, spreading the fertilizer inside the furrow down the length of the plant row. This method is called side dressing vegetables.
Cover the fertilizer with soil using the tines of the garden rake.
Irrigate the fertilizer into the soil with plenty of water. Apply 1 to 2 inches of water to the soil.