Organic Fertilizer: Vegetables Love These 3 Organic Fertilizers!

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Last Updated on 2 years by Michelle

If you are like me you love growing vegetables and you gravitate toward using organic fertilizer.

At our online produce store “Growing the Good Life”, we sell vegetables we grow on-site using organic methods. Depending on the time of year, we are growing:

  • artichokes
  • asparagus
  • beans
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • collard greens
  • cucumbers
  • garlic
  • lettuce
  • kale
  • peas
  • peppers
  • squash
  • okra
  • onions
  • radishes
  • scallions
  • tomatoes
  • turnips
  • zucchini
  • and tons of flowers.

I grow a lot of stuff.

That means I am obsessed with trying all the options that are out there. If there is an organic fertilizer option that will give me super-high yields in a small space, I will try it.

Because I’ve tried so many different organic fertilizers, I know which ones to use and which ones to skip.

But you (probably) aren’t OCD about all things gardening like I am. I could geek out on this stuff all day, but that’s because it’s my JOB and I freakin’ love it.

So you probably only want to buy what you absolutely need (totally makes sense), so here are the 3 must-have organic fertilizers that vegetables LOVE.

This post is all about the best organic fertilizers for vegetables that give you the most bang for your buck.

The 1st Organic Fertilizer That Vegetables Love: Espoma Garden Tone

Espoma Garden Tone is the best overall organic fertilizer that I have found. I’ve used several other organic fertilizers I’ll talk about later, but I feel that Garden Tone is the best all-around option.

I use it year-round in my garden, and here’s why it’s the best.

It Contains Both Quick Release Components and Slow Release Nitrogen

One amazing thing about Garden Tone is that it contains both quick-release and slow-release nitrogen.

How Quick Release Nitrogen Helps Your Plants

The quick-release nitrogen in this fertilizer works within just a few days to give your plants the fuel they need to get off to a great start.

The nitrogen boosts your plants’ green leaf production, which drives photosynthesis for the whole plant. The faster this gets started, the more vigorous your plant’s growth.

How Do You Know It's Working?

When you use Espoma Garden Tone for the first time, you’ll see a noticeable increase in healthy plant growth.

How Slow Release Nitrogen Helps Your Plants

After that initial burst of energy from the quick-release nitrogen, your plants receive about a month’s worth of nitrogen fed out to your plants.

The slow-release nitrogen components release their nutrients over the next several weeks so that your plants get a steady stream of nitrogen.

When you use Espoma Garden Tone for the first time, you’ll see a noticeable increase in healthy green plant growth. That is your first indication the fertilizer is working its magic.

Garden Tone Organic Fertilizer Contains Beneficial Microbes

Soil health is extremely important, and soil is not only made of organic matter. There are also earthworms and other living organisms that live off the soil.

These organisms help break down the soil so that roots can travel more easily through it, and their poop (worm castings) is a natural soil amendment on its own.

That’s why it’s important to make sure your fertilizer feeds those organisms IN ADDITION TO your plants.

Garden Tone has beneficial bacteria and humic acid to nourish the soil so that the living soil is healthy.

Garden Tone Breaks Down Slowly Over Time & Doesn't Burn Plants

Granular Fertilizers like Garden Tone and other high-quality organic fertilizers contain the kind of organic amendments that are found in nature, like feather meal, bone meal, potash, poultry manure, and alfalfa meal.

To be completely honest, Garden Tone smells just like a well-used barn’s floor. This stuff is STRONG, but it’s all-natural. You can just tell that this stuff is the kind of thing that will feed your soil structure.

You know what I mean?

The fact that Garden Tone smells so strong that it could knock you down is a plus in my book.

How I Use Garden Tone in my Garden

I use Garden Tone when I first plant a seedling into my garden. At that time, I’ll use about a tablespoon of the fertilizer. I put that into the planting hole and mix it with the first 1-2 inches of the soil in the planting hole.

About 6 weeks after that, I’ll start side-dressing with Garden-Tone in the rows where I’m not planting into landscape fabric.

This feeding schedule ensures that my plants get a steady stream of nutrients through out the year.

The 2nd Organic Fertilizer That Vegetables Love: Agrothrive

I’m going to a liquid fertilizer for the number 2 spot because this fertilizer is everything that Garden Tone ISN’T, but in the best of ways.

A Container of Agrothrive Organic Liquid Fertilizer

Agrothrive is a LIQUID Organic That Can be Watered Down as Much as You Want

Garden Tone is granular fertilizer. Agrothrive is NOT. Agrothrive is a liquid, and it can be watered down for immediate use in ALL KINDS of ways.

It’s a fish emulsion fertilizer with a few other goodies thrown in that won’t burn your plants so you don’t have to worry about messing anything up.

A picture of the back of the Agrothrive label

How Can You Use Agrothrive to Make Sure Your Seedlings Grow Like Crazy?

You can dilute 1 ounce of Agrothrive into 1 gallon of water and water your seedlings with it after the first set of true leaves appears.

After true leaves appear, I use Agrothrive every time I water my seedlings so they are strong and vigorous.

You want your plant’s root system to be health and root growth to be strong when you first set out your transplants so that they overcome transplanting shock as fast as possible.

How Can You Use Agrothrive on Established Plants?

I’ve used Agrothrive to boost established plants in 4 ways. I’ve used a spray bottle, a manual pump sprayer, a battery-powered sprayer, and a siphon in my drip irrigation system.

Using Agrothrive in a Spray Bottle

The simplest way to use Agrothrive is to put it in a spray bottle and spray your soil.

A spray bottle is a great way to fertilize your houseplants or other plants you’re growing in a grow bag or container.

The mix loses potency a short time after mixing, so don’t try to reuse old solution you’ve mixed. Just pour out what you don’t use or pour around plants outside so you don’t waste any.

Using Agrothrive in a Manual Pump Sprayer

If you have several plants or beds to fertilize, you can step up to a manual pump sprayer.

I have this manual pump sprayer, and it works well for fertilizing several garden beds.

You manually pump it to deliver the fertilizer water, so it’s a very affordable option for folks who are just getting started with it.

Using Agrothrive in a Battery-Powered Sprayer

I have a 1/10 acre market garden, so I use a battery-powered sprayer for my fertigation system.

This is the one I have, and it has worked flawlessly for me for a year now. (Check current price on Amazon)

A picture of the Cobalt electric 3 gallon sprayer

A battery-powered backpack sprayer will save you a LOT of time if you have a larger garden or yard.

Using Agrothrive in Your Drip Irrigation System

You can also use Agrothrive in your drip irrigation system if you have one.

This is my favorite way to use it because I can set it and forget it.

I have this simple siphon that I attach to my brass hose splitter.

It’s gravity-fed, so I just make sure there’s enough solution in the bucket, turn on the water, and walk away.

The siphon will pull up just the right amount of fertilizer concentrate to mix with the water that then goes into my drip line.

I highly recommend installing drip irrigation if you haven’t already. Then pick up this siphon so you can add

Agrothrive Is Affordable

I bought a 1/2 gallon of Agrothrive concentrate for around $30 dollars, check the current price here because prices have been dropping.

A gallon of Agrothrive will make over 60 GALLONS of fertilizer. That will last for at least a year for most people’s gardens.

If you break that cost down, it’s less than .50 cents per gallon to apply a high-quality organic fertilizer to your crops and plants. You can’t beat

that value.

The 3rd Organic Fertilizer That Vegetables Love: Alfalfa Meal

Both Garden Tone and Agrothrive are great fertilizers for vegetables.

However, if you’re looking for something a little different, alfalfa meal is a great option. Alfalfa meal is made from dried and powdered alfalfa leaves.

It’s a great source of nitrogen that isn’t an animal waste product like some other high-nitrogen fertilizers.

Manure products add a lot of nitrogen to the soil, but it’s a good idea to use different plant-based sources of nitrogen. For this reason, I like to alternate my use of manure with alfalfa meal.

Alfalfa meal also contains other nutrients that your plants will love, like phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

Honorable Mention: Kelp Help

I have to give an honorable mention to Kelp Help.

A bottle of Kelp Help on a concrete step

Kelp and seaweed are full of b vitamins, growth hormones, amino acids, and other trace minerals that plants and soil microbes absolutely love.

I foliar feed my garden vegetables to keep them strong and resistant to disease.

What is Foliar Feeding?

Foliar feeding is a method of applying nutrients and liquid fertilizers to the leaves of your plants.

To foliar feed, you mix up according to the foliar feed directions, and then you drench the top side and especially the underside of the leaves. The plant absorbs all the nutrients through the leaves.

It’s an especially effective way of delivering nutrients to plants that are struggling due to poor soil conditions.

Foliar feeding can also help correct nutrient deficiencies quickly.

For example, if your plants are showing signs of magnesium deficiency, you can apply a foliar spray of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) to quickly correct the deficiency.

Foliar feeding with Kelp Help

Kelp Help is a great foliar feed because it’s packed with nutrients that your plants will love.

As stated above, Kelp and other seaweed fertilizers are full of macro and micronutrients that are amazing for the growth of your plants.

If you have room in your budget for another fertilizer, you will be glad you added Kelp Help to your lineup.

Other Organic Fertilizers

Blood Meal

Blood Meal is a popular organic fertilizer for vegetables. It’s a great source of nitrogen for plants.

However, it can burn your plants if you put it too close to them since it is quite acidic.

When I use it, I place it several inches from the plants I’m fertilizing, work it into the soil surface, then I water it in thoroughly.

This way I make sure that the individual blood meal particles don’t touch the plants.

Blood meal is also an animal waste product, so some people prefer not to use it.


Compost is another great organic fertilizer for vegetables. It’s a great way to add organic matter to your soil.

Compost is ideal for your soil, and it’s the soil amendment of choice for most market gardeners.

You can make your own compost by allowing organic matter containing carbon and nitrogen to decompose.

Compost also contains nutrients that your plants will love like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.


Manure is another popular organic fertilizer for vegetables. It’s a great source of nitrogen for plants.

However, it can burn your plants if you use too much, so be careful when applying it. Manure is also an animal waste product, so some people prefer not to use it.


Perlite is a type of volcanic glass that is often used in gardening. It’s a great way to add organic matter to your soil.

Perlite also helps with drainage and soil aeration. It’s a great way to improve the quality of your soil.


Vermiculite is a type of mineral that is often used in gardening. It’s a great way to add organic matter to your soil. Vermiculite is especially useful when you spread it on top of the soil after you’ve seeded cell trays. The vermiculite acts as a buffer when used in this case, and it keeps the surface of the soil from getting too dry or too moist.

Worm Castings

Worm castings are a type of fertilizer that is made from the waste of worms. It’s a great source of nitrogen for plants.

Cow Manure

Cow Manure is rich in nitrogen and other nutrients. It’s a great way to add nutrients to your plants, but it can burn them if you use too much. It can also add weed seeds to your soil.

Chicken Manure

Is also a good choice for organic fertilizer. It contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. However, it can also burn your plants if you use too much or if you use chicken manure that is not fully decomposed. It is considered “hot” manure, which means that it needs to be fully decomposed before you put it in your garden.

Which organic fertilizer you choose is up to you. I suggest trying a few different ones to see which works best for your plants.

Organic fertilizers are a great way to add nutrients to your soil and improve the quality of your plants. With so many choices available, you’re sure to find one that works best for you.

Wrapping it Up

So, what’s the bottom line? When it comes to fertilizing your plants, there are many great organic options to choose from. You just need to find the one that works best for your garden and plants.

In this post, we discussed my 3 favorite organic fertilizers and one that I feel is worth an honorable mention: Garden Tone, Agrothrive, Alfalfa Meal, and Kelp Help.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

As always, thanks for reading!



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