With vegetable gardens in full swing, we often forget that many vegetables need lots of food to keep growing their best. A fertile, well-drained soil is great to get your vegetables off to a quick start, but even for the best soil, a little midsummer fertilization will help keep the plants growing and producing strong. Sidedressing is a fertilizing term that describes adding fertilizer in summer as an extra boost. You can generally add a granular fertilizer any time during summer. It’s also good to add it after one crop is finished and before you plant another in that soil. A balanced fertilizer such as 5-5-5 is usually best for most vegetables. However, to get the most from your fertilizing, time the application with the growth stage of the specific vegetable. Here’s a guide on when to sidedress:
Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant: Sidedress these nightshade-family crops when they start to flower and then again one month later.
Melons, Squash, Pumpkins, Cucumbers: Fertilize these vining plants when they start to form vines and again when the first fruits start to set.
Lettuce, Kale, Swiss Chard, Collards: These nitrogen lovers grow fast, so sidedress once after the greens are up and have at least four leaves. Instead of a granular fertilizer, consider using a liquid compost tea that’s high in soluble nitrogen and can be absorbed through the plant leaves.
Beans and Peas: These legumes fix their own nitrogen and generally don’t need any additional fertilizer during the growing season.
Carrots, Beets, and Parsnips: Fertilize these root crops after thinning and again one month later for good root development.
Onions and Garlic: Sidedress onions once the bulbs start to form. Fertilize garlic in spring once the leaves start to grow.
Sweet Corn: Sweet corn is actually in the grass family and grows quickly. Sidedress every three weeks after the corn starts growing until the ears start to form.