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.

| May/June 1989


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


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.

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