Vitamins for Vegetables: An Experiment in Homemade Fertilizer

In a self-designed science project, this 11-year-old author and gardener uses vitamins as fertilizer and plant food, with outstanding results.

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    Robert Williams III poses by one of his cabbages, with his personalized vitamin mixture in hand.

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Last year I decided to try to learn if plants given doses of vitamin-rich water germinate and grow faster than ones not fed vitamins. I figured that since vitamins are good for people, they might be good for plants, too.

Before I started my experiment, I looked for some books or magazines that told of research with plants and vitamins, but I couldn't find anything in print. So I had to find things out for myself. I started off feeding eight plant trays with different vitamin mixes and one plant tray with only water.

I made a table showing the vitamin solutions and water used. I made notes of when all the seeds were planted and when they germinated. I also measured the plants' heights every morning and every night.

The vitamins I used were A (50,000 I.U.), B1 (200 mg), B12 (200 mg), B100 (200 mg), C (1,000 mg), E (400 I.U.) and pantothenic acid (500 mg). I diluted each vitamin with two quarts of water. All of the vitamins except A and E were crushed and dissolved in water. I had to boil water to get the A and E vitamins to melt.

Vitamins and Indoor Seedlings: The First Experiment

I started the seeds in peat pots, after pouring vitamin water into the dry pots to expand them. I put the seeded pots under a light (I used an old photo-copying stand). All of the plants were put in the same room and kept the same distance from a woodstove that provided heat. I poured the same amount of vitamin water on my seeds every day. I used one tray for each vitamin, one tray that received only water, and another in which I used a mixture of all seven vitamins.

I planted all the seeds early on January 16, and by the next morning, some of the green peas in the pantothenic acid and vitamin E trays had already germinated (I had soaked all the pea seeds overnight before planting). By that night, the pantothenic acid-tray peas were nearly two inches tall. By January 21, the peas watered with the B 12 mixture not only had germinated but also had well-formed roots coming out the sides of the peat pots. However, the pea plants in the vitamin A tray did not germinate until January 23, and the plain-water peas not until January 27.

2/5/2020 9:54:25 AM

Most enjoyable gardening article I have ever read! This young man has amazing talent in both experimentation and creative writing. Kudos from a retired scientist learning to garden. I recently purchased an expensive can of vitamin powder for Seniors which turned out to be disgusting. I found this article by searching on the question of whether human vitamins could be used as plant fertilizer. I plan to do a little experimenting of my own this season - thanks.

1/2/2018 6:11:46 PM

Fascinating! I make my own fertilizer for indoor plants from coffee grinds, powdered eggshells and iron. I was trying to see if there was any research or information regarding Vitamin C in fertilizer since it's fairly acidic. I found this article very informative and useful and may try using these tips this in the summer when I plant my outdoor garden. I may also try following some of the steps that produced the best growth for specific plants! Wow...thanks to Robert Williams III for doing this! And thanks to Mother Earth News for publishing.

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