Soil and Fertility

The leafy green vegetables can be grown on a wide range of different soil types. Heavier soils (silt or clays) produce high yields while lighter sandier soils are more suitable for early spring, fall, or winter production. Since these crops have high water demands, it is important that the soil have good moisture-holding capacity with excellent drainage. Soils prone to compaction or those that lack good soil structure (crust easily) should be avoided as these conditions adversely affect seedling emergence or growth.

For fertilizer needs, a soil test is the most accurate guide and helps identify any nutrient limitations. The following recommendations are quite general and applications should be adjusted based on soil test results.

  • Most leafy green vegetables require 75-150 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Over-application of nitrogen results in rapid, soft growth, and can trigger tipburn.
  • Ensure the soils have adequate phosphorus (100- 200 (P2O5) lb/acre) and potassium (50-150 (K2O) lbs./acre) based on soil tests.
  • These crops grow best when soil pH is maintained at 6.5-7.5.
  • Leafy green vegetables respond to banded fertilizer because they all have shallow root systems (most in the top foot of soil).
  • Use less nitrogen if soils have had manure/compost additions or when grown after legume cover crops.
  • Higher amounts of N and P are commonly applied for late fall and winter plantings.