Growing vegetables is a fun and rewarding activity. But if you’re a regular veggie-grower, you know it needs all the patience in the world. Once those seeds are sown, you have to wait… and wait… and wait.
However, you can shorten this waiting period by using some good old tips and tricks to help make your leafy greens grow faster. The core of these tips is nourishing your plants and providing the best for them – they say owning a plant makes you a ‘plant mom’ or ‘plant dad’ for a reason!
How to make your Vegetable Plants grow faster?
- Apply Fertiliser or Compost to provide your vegetables with everything they need
- Mulch will help to keep your soil moist and provide a steady supply of water
- Sunlight is crucial for optimal plant growth. Make sure your plants get enough
- Remove all competition to concentrate the resources on the plants you want to grow
- Provide enough space for your plants to grow. They don’t like it cramped.
- Give your plants a headstart: Transplanting will set your plants up for success.
- Water your plants according to your soil type
- Pruning will help to keep your plant healthy and focus its resources
- Choose the right variety: Not all Veggie plants are equal, some are naturally slow-growing. Others are like the runner of the Veggie-Family
Table of Contents
Apply fertilizer or compost
Fertilizers nourish your vegetable plants and help speed up their growth. Compost nourishes the soil in which you are growing your plants. Using both fertilizers and compost in optimal amounts will result in a fast-growing and healthy vegetable garden. As a gardener, these two should be your best friends.
Which fertilizers will help my plants grow faster?
To speed up growth, you generally need a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen for well-nourished soil. Generally, nitrogen tends to be the limiting factor in common soils. In this regard, the most common fertilizers used are 10-10-10 and 10-20-10.
If your soil is already deficient, it would be best to conduct a test. You can do this by using a kit, having a lab do it for you, or using some good old Do-It-Yourself methods. If you’re working around a budget, you can opt for DIY, and if you’re willing to invest in your veggies, you can ask soil lab attendants to do it for you.
When should I fertilize my vegetable plants?
The timing for fertilizers depends on the purpose of fertilizing. If you’re nourishing your nutrient-deficient soil, you should add fertilizer before you sow your vegetable seeds. If your soil isn’t deficient, you can fertilize it before your vegetables’ regular growing season.
Additionally, if your plants begin to show wilting symptoms (such as changing from green to yellow) or you feel their growth has slowed down, a little extra fertilizer will help.
When should I add compost?
Compost has to be added before you start planting seeds. If you’re growing your vegetables in the spring, you can add compost two weeks before you start or even at the beginning of the winter. Adding compost this early lets it settle in for a couple of months, making it more effective.
How often should I fertilize my plants?
Fertilizers feed your vegetable plant, but it is important to check on the amount of fertilizer you add to ensure fast and optimal growth. The amount is to be monitored depending on the type of soil you use:
Organic soil contains high amounts of organic matter that enriches it with nutrients and minerals. Such soil does not need too much fertilizer. According to an estimate, fertilizing organic soil every four weeks is enough.
If you’re growing your vegetables in clay soil, it is recommended to add fertilizer at least every four weeks and at most every six weeks.
Porous soil needs fertilizer more often – applying it every three weeks is optimal. Remember, fertilizers are needed even if your garden seems to be blooming.
Do not overfertilize your veggies!
Too much of everything is harmful. As good as nourishing your garden sounds, adding too much fertilizer can kill your veggies. For every hundred square feet, two to four pounds of a nitrogen-based fertilizer is sufficient.
How can I apply fertilizer to my vegetable garden?
Fertilizer can be added to vegetable plants in many different ways. Some of these include:
You can broadcast fertilizer by adding it evenly over the soil around your vegetable or all across your vegetable garden. Broadcasting can be done by hand and is used mainly for granular and dry fertilizers.
This involves applying fertilizer in rows, right beside the planted seeds. You must take care of the distance between the rows of fertilizer and the seeds – the seeds can be killed if you’re too close or the fertilizer won’t reach the seeds if you’re too far away,
This is done by sprinkling fertilizer – mostly dry fertilizer – on the sides of your vegetable plant instead of adding it right on top. It is then watered into the soil. This technique is especially helpful for nutrient-deficient soil and increases yields considerably.
This involves sprinkling fertilizer all across your vegetable plant/garden so that it comes in contact with both the soil and the plant. Liquid fertilizers are feasible to use in topdressing.
Type of soil
The type of soil you use has a say in the speed of growth of your vegetables. There are three main types you can choose from: sandy, clayey and silty.
To ensure optimal and fast growth, the best option is to use a mixture of all three types: sand, silt, and clay in appropriate proportions. Such soil is called loam. Adding a sufficient amount of organic matter will further enhance the quality of the soil and the speed at which your vegetable plants grow. Alternatively, you can even create your own garden soil.
Additionally, you need to ensure your leveled garden drains water well before you start growing – too much-retained water will stunt the growth of your vegetables.
Good water practices are mandatory for a healthy and fast-growing vegetable plant. Generally, one inch of water is sufficient for veggies per week. Adding too much water in a short time period runs the risk of suffocating the plant’s roots.
How should I water my plants?
To ensure maximum effectiveness, the water needs to penetrate deep enough. Sprinklers need a lot of water to get deep into the soil and are quite wasteful with this precious liquid. Hence, it is best to use the drip irrigation method or hoses.
Using mulch around your vegetable plants is a practice that will make your vegetables grow faster. You should add mulch in a layer of 3 to 6 inches of thickness. This will insulate the soil, nourish it and make it more fertile in addition to discouraging the appearance of weeds.
The type of mulch to be used depends on your vegetable plant and soil. For fast growth, you need to make sure your soil is healthy, and mulch is added according to the deficiencies therein.
If your soil is inclining towards the alkaline side, you can neutralize it using pine needles. To prevent weed attacks, newspapers can be used as mulch. If your soil is not nutrient deficient and you want to introduce further minerals gradually, wood chips are the optimal choice.
Table of water requirements
Beyond the general one-inch water rule, vegetable plants require water depending on the soil type. Here is an overview for different soil types in the table of water requirements below:
|Number of times you should water/week
|The amount for every time you water/inch
|Once a week
|One to two
|Twice a week
|Once a week
|Half to one
How much sunlight is needed to make my vegetable plants grow fast?
Sunlight and good growth go hand in hand. If you want your vegetables to grow as fast and healthy as possible, you need to ensure they receive a good few hours of sunlight daily.
The more sunlight you provide, the faster your plants will grow. The recommended dosage for sun-loving plants is around six to eight hours on a nice and sunny day. On partly cloudy days, a few extra hours would help, and on consistently cloudy days, artificial sources of light can be utilized.
If you’re growing your vegetable plant in a pot indoors, you can place it on a windowsill that receives sunlight regularly during the daytime hours.
Make sure to give your vegetables enough sun
They don’t emphasize on sunlight for nothing. Basically, sunlight helps your vegetable plant form carbohydrates. It then consumes these carbs and grows – exactly why sunlight is called the “food” for plants. A lack of sunlight will slow down the pace at which the vegetable plant is growing.
Different vegetables have different sunlight requirements. Green vegetables can thrive in relatively shady areas. Examples include cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and beets. Some vegetables can make do in partial shade, such as carrots and cauliflowers. But most vegetables need constant hours of unblocked sunlight. These include eggplants, tomatoes, and corn.
However, too much of a good thing still can hurt your plants. That’s also true with sunlight; too much will fry and kill your plants. It’s best to avoid harsh afternoon sun and keeping your plants hydrated throughout the day. For more Infos check out this recent article.
Plants tend to compete with each other to get sufficient sunlight, nutrients, and water. This will prevent your vegetables from growing rapidly, extending the already-long waiting period. Hence, you must try to remove any unwanted competition between plants.
Firstly, you can do this by introducing enough space between plants, so they don’t end up fighting for resources. I’ll get back to this later in the article.
Secondly, you can ensure competition is minimized by giving every plant individual attention. This involves nourishing the soil thoroughly and around every plant. All plants should be allowed ample time in the sunlight, and watering should be done with detail, ensuring that every plant receives its share of water.
Protection from weeds
Weeds are unwanted plants that grow in your area of gardening. It is important to remove weeds from your garden as they compete for nutrients, light, and water and deprive your vegetables of these resources. This will immensely impact the speed of growth and health of your vegetable buddies.
To control the growth of weeds, it is important to use mulch extensively. Cardboard and newspapers are effective in this regard. You can also handpick weeds to reduce the amount occupying your garden.
Additionally, you can grow your vegetable plants closer together, so the soil in between is deprived is sunlight and does not support the growth of weeds. This must be done carefully, though, as plants grown in bulk can compete with each other and cause hindrances in growth.
Give your plants enough space
Growing plants in crowded areas can cause stunted and slow growth. When more plants occupy a given area, they ‘fight’ for nutrients, sunlight and water. This may result in some plants receiving lesser resources than others, hence causing hindrances in their growth.
To ensure rapid growth, you should give your plants enough space. This can be done by reducing the number of plants per unit area in your garden. Evenly spacing out seeds while sowing them helps in this regard.
If you’re growing your vegetable plant in a pot, the number of plants you can grow depends on the pot’s size. Generally, a 12-inch pot will efficiently accommodate four small-ish plants.
Transplanting and germination indoors
A convenient way to rapidly grow vegetable plants is to transplant and germinate them indoors. You can do this by extracting and replanting your garden plants if conditions get unfavourable outdoors. Or you can directly purchase transplants from nurseries and plant them in a pot or container in your house.
Transplanting and germination must be done with pre-planning. Before changing environments, the plants should be adapted to the outside. Transplanting must be done with care, ensuring that no damage is done to any part of the plant.
Pruning promotes rapid growth
Pruning is a traditional practice that has been used for decades by gardeners to increase the rate of growth of plants.
To prune your plants, you can cut short any damaged buds and suspected diseased branches. For most vegetables, the amount of pruning is directly proportional to the growth rate – pruning also helps to focus the plant’s attention on specific areas like producing great veggies.
Choose the right variety
Some varieties of vegetables grow faster than others. This is because of the way they were selected. Adaptations include requiring lesser resources as compared to others and thriving in competitive environments.
This makes it important for you to understand the growth rate of different vegetables and decide which ones to grow after putting in enough thought.
What are some faster-growing varieties?
If you know that patience will get the better of you, choosing fast-growing varieties is important.
Broccoli rabe and kale are amongst the fastest growing vegetables. Amongst the more famous veggies, spinach and baby carrots make delicious snacks, and you can expect to harvest them under six weeks of planting them. Other fast-growing vegetables include radishes and salad leaves.
Also known as intercropping, companion planting makes your vegetable buddies grow faster. This is done by releasing chemicals that attract ‘good insects’ to come and eat the ‘bad insects’. In this process, they provide no harm to the plant. The invited insects also increase pollination.
Companion planting is done while keeping various factors in mind. Tall plants are grown with shorter ones, and plants that require direct sunlight are incorporated with shade-preferring ones.
Examples of vegetable plants that you can plant together include:
- Carrots with tomatoes or onions
- Corn with pumpkins or potatoes
- Cauliflower with oregano or celery
How to extend your growing season if your plants grow too slow
If your veggies are too adamant to grow fast, you can always extend your growing season to accommodate them. There are multiple ways to do this, including the usage of cold frames and greenhouses.
Greenhouses increase yields, and don’t let your slow-growing veggies go to waste. You can set up one using a greenhouse kit. This is a relatively inexpensive option. If you’re in a position to invest, you can also use a glass greenhouse.
Cold frames can extend the growing season by up to 3 months. If this is the option you’re going for, you can either DIY a cold frame with minimum investment or buy one online.
Growing vegetables is a fun and productive way to utilize downtime, but it can get boring and discouraging when it takes too long for your homemade veggies to show up.
Aside from just being patient, you can use tips and tactics – some traditional and some more modern – to make your vegetable plants grow fast. These revolve around choosing the right varieties, pruning, companion planting, and above all, looking after and providing for your vegetable buddies the most you can.