Practically speaking, your vegetables must get all their food from the garden soil. This important garden fact may seem self-evident, but, if one may judge by their practice, amateur gardeners very frequently fail to realize it. Without plenty of plant food, all the care, coddling, coaxing, cultivating, spraying and worrying you may give will avail little. The soil must be rich or the garden will be poor.
The terms “garden manure” and “chemical fertilizer” are used somewhat ambiguously and interchangeably. Using the former term in a broad sense – as meaning any substance containing available plant food applied to the soil, we may say that manure is of two kinds: organic, such as stable manure, or decayed vegetable matter; and inorganic, such as potash salts, phosphatic rock and commercial mixed fertilizers. In a general way the term “fertilizer” applies to these inorganic manures.
When it comes right down to the practical question of what to put on your garden patch to grow big crops, nothing has yet been discovered that is better than the old reliable well rotted, thoroughly fined stable or barnyard manure. If you keep any animals of your own, see that the various sorts of garden manure are mixed together and kept in a compact, built-up square heap.
Another source of organic manures, altogether too little appreciated, is what is termed “green manuring”–the plowing under of growing crops to enrich the land. Even in the home garden this system should be taken advantage of whenever possible.
Mixed fertilizers are of innumerable brands, and for sale everywhere. Read the label and buy the fertilizer according to its content. Some are more suitable for leafy plants, such as vegetables, others would be better for flowers, shrubs or trees.
Generally, chemical fertilizers are much more concentrated than manure. You need just a fraction of the amount when compared to the bulky manure.