Healthy cell growth and the process of photosynthesis in your home vegetable garden’s plants are two of the many reasons why nitrogen is needed. Without adequate supplies of nitrogen you will be inhibiting both processes and that is not good to produce healthy fruits and veggies.
Due to the volatility of nitrogen, you can easily run short of this important element in no time. Nitrogen can escape in the air and more commonly get washed away when you water your plants too much or receive excessive rain falls.
For these reasons stated above nitrogen needs to be added more often. If you do not have a tester that will give you a reading of nitrogen in the soil, you will easily tell with your eyes when the leaves of the plants start turning yellow and/or brown. Many novice gardeners think, when the leaves are turning color like this, it is due to not enough water. So they water some more and that washes even more nitrogen away making the soil conditions worse.
On the flip side of the argument is having too much nitrogen. Yes you can have too much if you overload your soil with nitrogen rich sources (more on those sources in a few moments). You can tell if you have too much nitrogen if you see a lot of red in the leaves or normally plants that could stand on their own start falling over.
The first thing you should do is invest in an inexpensive soil testing kit that will give the reading of soil’s nitrogen level. When it falls below optimal levels as per the reading on the kit, you can mix into your soil a variety of sources. These sources include blood meal, fish meal, and animal waste such as manure and of course you can grow a “cover crop” of soybeans, alfalfa or clovers which actually put nitrogen back into the soil.
If going organic is not as important to you as it is to others you can pick up nitrogen rich fertilizer at your local home or garden center for under ten bucks. These products work well when the plants are in the ground making it hard to mix in natural sources of nitrogen.
As you can see nitrogen is very important to every home vegetable gardener. Knowing how much your soil has, how much you need to add and the sources for replenishing your soil with nitrogen will go a very long way to increasing the health and harvest of your vegetable plants.
About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and where ever gardening books are sold. For more vegetable gardening advice, Mike can be reached at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com.