Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Soil & Fertilizer

In the articles below, discover everything you need to know about soil and fertilizer for a fruit, herb, and vegetable garden.

There are entire books and college classes on the science of soil and fertilizer. At the risk of glossing over the immense amount of work that so many have done to bring us this knowledge, let’s just say that the best all-purpose plant fertilizer has some combination of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, along with smaller amounts of nutrients like zinc, manganese, magnesium, and many others.

If you want to make the most of your efforts, a soil sample test will tell you what you need to balance your soil.

Another good reason for a soil test? Researchers at Brown University in Rhode Island found that “lead-based paint spread more than 400 feet from nearby water towers, and often penetrated more than 12 inches below the soil surface.”

The quality of your soil is important, but the safety of your soil might be even more-so.

Is it contaminated with old lead paint that chipped off your house? Used oil from someone changing their motor oil in the backyard? Perhaps arsenic from the treated wood on your old deck? Maybe the manure runoff from the farm uphill? Chemical waste from the old factory upriver? Leaky septic system? Pesticides? Or maybe your home is newly built on land that was once an industrial site?

In the articles below, we dive into everything you need to know about soil and fertilizer, such as soil safety, improving soil quality, drainage, using fertilizer, making fertilizer, and growing your best, most nutritious garden. And you can learn even more in our How to Grow a Vegetable Garden: 10 Things Every Gardener Needs to Know Before Starting a Food Garden freebie. Enjoy!

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