Here is what to look for when choosing a fertilizer for your fruits or vegetables.

1. Soil Sampling

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, soil sampling is a basis for fertilizer application. Soil pH, salt content, zinc and phosphorus can be found in soil samples and potassium values can be taken when the soil is frozen. The university extension recommends two general concepts: the sufficiency level approach and the basic cation saturation ratio. The sufficiency level approach crops will respond to the application of the nutrient in question and at he same time, crops will not respond to the addition of the nutrient if the soil levels are above a defined sufficient level. The basic cation saturation ratio promotes that maximum yields can only be achieved by creating an ideal ratio of calcium, magnesium and potassium.

2. Soil Tests

Soil tests are an important aspect for crop production. The University of Minnesota Extension recommends obtaining a soil test to understand the nutrient content of the fertilizer before application. For organic production, it’s acceptable for fertilizers to have a low nutrient analysis and they can be applied in larger quantities to obtain the same nutrient value.

Read more: No-Till for Soil Health? 

3. Add Compost and Manure

Manure and compost can do wonders for your crops. While compost can be a substitute for manure, it has lower levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, according to extension.org. However, manure that is aged at least six months will help get rid of most human pathogens and will provide many nutrients and organic matter. Colorado State University Extension recommends adding compost only after receiving soil test results.

4. Measure Out Fertilizer

Measuring out fertilizer is crucial to ensure there won’t be any problems. If there is too much of nitrogen, for example, then the plants may not have fruit and be all vines, according to the Texas A&M Agrilife Exension. To measure out fertilizer for vegetables, Colorado State University Extension recommends applying one pound of a 10-10-10 fertilizer or two pounds of a 5-10-5 fertilizer per 100 feet of row. Adding unnecessary nutrients can cause problems.

Read more: Soil Fertility and Your Farm