I received an answer from you a few weeks ago about why my veggies never produced fruit and you advised me that the soil needed more nitrogen and bees for pollination. I plan to have the garden outside this year and some veggies that like hot weather like peppers, cucumbers. How can I tell if the soil needs more nitrogen so I don't do the same thing this year? I usually just buy the soil tester gauge and test my soil that way. I can't afford to take samples and send them away for analysis. We have a good mix of soil, chicken manure (I know to use small portion of this), leaves, and old leaves and stalks from last year's corn. What else can I do? Thanks! Sharon
A general purpose fertilizer designed for vegetables should work fine for your vegetable garden, provided that you are meeting the plants other requirements (sun, proper soil pH, water, temperature, proper drainage, etc.). Nitrogen doesn't stay in the soil as long as the other main elements (phosphorus and potash), so you'll want a fertilizer that has a decent amount of it (6 percent could work). I don't know where you live, but, here in Virginia, a soil sample test sent to Virginia Tech's Soil Test Labs costs $10 per sample (for Virginia residents) or $16 (for out-of-state residents). That's not terribly expensive if you plan to grow a lot of vegetables.