Several factors should be considered when choosing the best vegetable garden fertilizer, including the type and amounts of nutrients in the product and whether the fertilizer is chemically or organically manufactured. Vegetable garden fertilizers are also available in either granular and liquid form for convenient dispensing. Many gardening experts suggest using fertilizers to ensure the soil is nutrient rich and properly prepared for producing strong, healthy, and productive plants. It is not uncommon to find that the soil is lacking in vital vitamins and minerals necessary for effective gardening. Home gardeners are encouraged to use a soil testing kit, available in most gardening centers, to test the mineral and nutrient composition of their soil before choosing a fertilizer.
Almost every vegetable garden fertilizer made has a series of numbers representing the amounts of certain types of nutrients found in the product and will be listed singularly, separated by a hyphen. This information is helpful in determining which fertilizer is the most appropriate for the soil and desired plant life. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the three most common nutrients found in commercial fertilizers. The first number denotes the percentage of nitrogen in the product, followed by phosphorus, and ending with the amount of potassium. For the gardener that has performed a soil test and knows what the ground is lacking, this information is crucial for selecting a good vegetable fertilizer.
Another consideration to be made when choosing a vegetable garden fertilizer is whether to choose chemical or organic-based fertilizer. There are excellent products available of both types, and often the choice is a matter of preference. More and more people are choosing to grow and eat only organic vegetables and fruits to avoid consuming genetically altered foods and artificial chemicals. In order for produce to be considered organic, it must be from an organic or heirloom plant and grown without the addition of man-made materials or chemicals. Many people still choose the more conventional vegetable garden fertilizer options because they are considered to be safe and effective as well.
Most vegetable garden fertilizer products are available in liquid or granular form. Experienced gardeners and experts suggest choosing liquid fertilizer products when fast results are needed, such as in the case of poorly producing plants. It will be necessary to apply liquid fertilizer more often than time-released granular formulas, however. Granular versions of vegetable garden fertilizer can be applied to the soil less often, and are spread by hand or with the use of a spreader.