How to Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden After Planting

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy we may make a commission, at no additional charge to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more details.

Building a vegetable garden is a terrific way to become more self-sustaining and help the environment. Not to mention how much better vegetables taste when they are fresh from the source. With this guide, you will learn how to fertilize vegetable garden after planting and which types of fertilizers are the best for tending to vegetables.

When you go to fertilize your vegetable garden after planting, you do not want to disturb the plants and their roots too much since that could hinder the proper growth of the vegetables.

However, not all fertilizing techniques are invasive, so if there is a lot of anxiety about the life of the plants, there are always alternate options.

How to Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden After Planting

How to Fertilize Vegetable Garden After Planting

There are a few different ways to fertilize a vegetable garden after planting.

Side-dressing, foliar feeding, and top-dressing are the three most common techniques. Let’s get straight into how you would perform each method.


Side-dressing fertilizer involves adding fertilizer not directly to the plant, but to the ground around its stem. You may want to use the side-dressing method if your plants require special care or if they already have significant growth.

For side-dressing plants, use a granular fertilizer, rather than a liquid fertilizer, which would not be as easy to handle in this situation.

Per plant, use 1 to 2 tablespoons of fertilizer, or 1 to 2 pounds for every 25 feet in a row.

Most gardeners side-dress their plants by adding the fertilizer in a parallel line next to a row of plants, with about 4 inches in-between the plants and their fertilizing agents.

Plants with widespread roots may need more fertilizer or placement at a greater distance. All the determining factors of fertilizer placement depend on the type and size of plants.

Certain species of plants will need substantially more fertilizer, such as corn and other nutrient devourers. So, do your research to ensure that you make the best decisions for the garden’s overall health.

How to Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden After Planting

Foliar Feeding

Using a foliar feeding method for fertilizing a vegetable garden can help plants more efficiently absorb micronutrients, which should not be confused for macronutrients.

Where macronutrients are easy for the plants to absorb, micronutrients are often limited in certain types of soil and may become completely unavailable as the soil’s pH gets above 7.5.

Foliar feeding is different than other fertilizing methods because the fertilizer goes directly on the leaves (foliage) of a plant, instead of the soil below.

Foliar feeding is one of the easier ways to fertilize a vegetable garden and is much less invasive to the soil bed.

Before spraying fertilizer on your plants, carefully read all instructions and measurements on the fertilizer packaging. The micronutrients that are in the liquid fertilizer used for foliar feeding (zinc, boron, copper, iron, manganese, etc.) are only needed in minuscule amounts.

Over-fertilizing with these micronutrients could result in toxicity of the plants, in which a phytotoxic reaction occurs in the leaf tissue and prevents the plant from completing photosynthesis to the extent it needs to survive.

Follow instructions, and all will be well. Foliar feeding can be very beneficial, especially for a vegetable garden, and they need just a few foliar feedings per year.

A soil test can tell you whether the plants need fewer or more frequent feedings since the results display the levels of both macronutrients and micronutrients.

For the best results, conduct foliar feeding early in the morning when the air is cool.

The plant will take in only about 15 to 20 percent of fertilizer sprayed, so the ideal temperature and conditions are vital to increasing that percentage.

How to Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden After Planting


Although it sounds similar to side-dressing, top-dressing is a unique fertilization process.

Top-dressing is the method of fertilizing a garden by preparing a mixture of sand or soil with fertilizer. That mixture then goes on the soil around the garden plants. You can also top-dress a garden directly after seeding.

What Fertilizing Technique Is the Best?

Vegetable gardens commonly grow best when the gardener applies a top-dressing of fertilizer.

Foliar feeding can be utilized on top of the regular fertilization for the garden, but be careful not to overdo it. Fertilizer instructions can tell you the best combinations and limits for that specific fertilizer.

Best Fertilizer for a Vegetable Garden

What you will see below are some of the fertilizers it suggests, as well as some other plant fertilizers that are perfect for a vegetable garden.

Make sure to check out our article on the Best Fertilizers For Yards And Gardens. This useful guide will help you find the best fertilizer for your garden based on what your personal garden needs. Every garden is different.

Best-Rated Fertilizers

How to Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden After Planting
Check Best Price on Amazon

More Vegetable Fertilizers We Love

Dr. Earth Home Grown Organic Premium Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer

How to Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden After Planting
Check Best Price on Amazon

Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Flower & Vegetable

How to Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden After Planting
Check Best Price on Amazon

Need Help with Gardening?

Fertilizing is just one part of the grand design of a garden, whether that garden has vegetables or not.

Every garden needs the correct setup and proper care and maintenance. For some gardening tips, and a helpful guide on backyard garden plants – click here!

Best Time of Year to Start a Vegetable Garden

Technically, you can start a vegetable garden at any time. Although, winter is the least ideal season to begin because most plants remain dormant during that time.

In a vegetable garden, the crops need to rotate throughout the year – to keep the soil healthy and the vegetables thriving. To begin planning the setup of the garden, get an idea of when different types of vegetables grow during the year.

Use this Planting Calendar to find out when to plant vegetables based on your location.


With the appropriate steps taken for fertilizing and general maintenance, a vegetable garden can feed a family for months.

Remember to follow the instructions on your bag of fertilizer exactly or do plenty of research before creating your own fertilizer from scratch.

Leave a Comment