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Which Plants are Heavy Feeders?

Which Plants are Heavy Feeders?

Mary Smith |

I guess I should start out by explaining the term 
"heavy feeder."  In garden-speak, a heavy feeder is a plant variety that requires more nutrients than your average plant.  For this article I'm talking veggies.

If you're growing a veggie garden or you've ever grown a garden then you probably know that nutrients are very important.  Sun and soil are important as well (and SEEDS) but nutrients also play an integral role in plant health.

Most "all-in-one" type of fertilizers have an "NPK" rating.  NPK stands for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (potash).  What does each nutrient do? In addition to other properties, Nitrogen helps plant foliage to grow strong. Phosphorous helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Potassium (Potash) is important for overall plant health.

We now offer a unique selection of Organic Nutrients & Soil Amendments at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.

For step-by-step growing instructions, feel free to check out my Growing Tips & Videos page.  There is a wealth of info available!

The classifications below are based on having fertile soil at the start.  If you have sandy soil or clay soil, amending the soil is important.

Heavy Feeders include Asparagus, Broccoli, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Melons, Okra, Peppers, Pumpkins, Squash and Tomatoes.

For heavy feeders, work your organic nutrients into the soil approx 3 weeks before planting.  If you have already planted, making your own liquid feed is very easy with the right nutrients.

For Eggplant, Peppers, Squash and Tomatoes I usually fertilize every 3-4 weeks, with the first fertilization at planting for the first 9 weeks.  Each variety of nutrients will have their own set of instruction.  The organic nutrients I use call for approx 1 tablespoon at a time.  During the approx 9 weeks I side-dress with homemade compost, compost tea or DIY Alfalfa Tea fertilizer for one or all of the "feedings."

Be careful not to fertilize too close the the stem or base of your plant.  Nutrients should be applied at the "drip-line" of the plant to keep from burning your plant.

Moderate Feeders include Beans, Bok Choy, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower,  GREENS: Kale, Lettuce, Spinach and Swiss Chard.

Beets, Carrots, Leeks, Onions, Radish and Rutabaga are all light feeders.  If your radish grows spindly then it needs calcium.  Otherwise, just make sure your soil is fertile and you should be good to go.

For moderate and light feeders, work your organic nutrients into the soil approximately 3 weeks before planting.  If you have already planted, making your own liquid feed is very easy.

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