Vegetable Gardens

This article appeared in "Earth-Kind Gardening,"
produced by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service
The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

If "green-thumb" vegetable gardeners have a secret to their success, it is proper soil preparation and fertilization. Experienced gardeners know the potential for producing good yields of high-quality, homegrown vegetables is greatly enhanced by a well prepared soil containing liberal amounts of organic matter and adequate available nutrients.

Cottonseed meal is an excellent means of providing both the organic matter and the nutrients vegetables need. It is an organic, slow-release, premium fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as numerous minor elements. When incorporated into the garden soil, cottonseed meal decomposes over a period of time, slowly releasing its nutrients and forming soil-improving humus.

When starting a new vegetable garden, apply 4 to 6 pounds of cottonseed meal and 1 to 12 pounds of recommended garden fertilizer per 100 square feet of gardening area. For soil improvement, spread 1 to 2 inches of cottonseed hulls, decomposed leaves or grass clippings, well rotted hay, or other form of organic matter over the surface of the garden. Till or spade the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches, thoroughly mixing in the meal, recommended fertilizer, and organic material. When soil is prepared for planting in established, productive vegetable gardens, apply the same amount of meal; reduce the amount of garden fertilizer by about one-half, and continue to work in liberal amounts of organic matter.

When the garden is established and the soil warms, mulch around the plants with a 1- to 2-inch layer of cottonseed hulls or other suitable organic material. About 2 to 3 weeks later, apply a topdressing of cottonseed meal at the rate of 12 to 2 pounds per 100 square feet, or per 35 feet of row. Lightly work the meal into the mulch, and water thoroughly. Depending upon the crop and the weather, additional applications of meal at the same rate may be needed periodically during the growing season.

This article appeared in Horticulture Update - January-February 2001, edited by Dr. William C. Welch, and produced by Extension Horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

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