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How to Feed Your Garden Vegetables

By Thomas K. Arnold ; Updated September 21, 2017

Like flowers and other garden plants, vegetables do not live by sunshine and water alone. They need food, nutrients in the soil they can absorb through their roots. And the best way to feed your garden vegetables is to enrich the soil with organic matter and supplement the menu with the appropriate type of fertilizer.

Sprinkle organic matter on the soil and blend it in with a garden fork. Organic matter is anything that was once alive; good sources of organic matter are compost, animal manure and peat moss. Use enough organic matter to blanket your vegetable garden to a depth of about 1 inch.

Cover the ground with mulch. Mulch helps keep moisture and nutrients in the soil and also facilitates decomposition of organic matter in the soil.

Add commercial vegetable fertilizer three or four times in a growing season, carefully reading the label to make sure you distribute the appropriate quantity. Too much fertilizer can lead to too much leaf growth, at the expense of the actual fruit.

Water thoroughly. Vegetables absorb nutrients through their root systems, and root systems can only absorb nutrients if they are dissolved in water.


Things You Will Need

  • Compost or other organic matter
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Earthworms
  • Garden fork


  • In choosing a fertilizer for your vegetable garden, keep in mind that the three key nutrients vegetables require are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Leafy greens and broccoli require more nitrogen than other vegetables.
  • For a real organic twist to feeding your garden vegetables, unleash some earthworms in the soil. Soil with an average of five earthworms per cubic foot will get a pound of nitrogen each year from those worms.

About the Author


Thomas K. Arnold is publisher and editorial director of "Home Media Magazine" and a regular contributor to "Variety." He is a former editorial writer for U-T San Diego. He also has written for "San Diego Magazine," "USA Today" and the Copley News Service. Arnold attended San Diego State University.