3 Steps to the Perfect Vegetable Garden (Part One)

Step One: VF-11Plant Food

The bottle reads “Seems like magic! ON ALL YOUR PLANTS”. It’s a pretty non descript label…looks like something out of the 50’s. Nothing fancy. Just black ink on a white bottle. It’s called Eleanor’s VF-11 Plant Food and it blew me away when I first tried it.


We use it on everything from tomatoes to zinnias to Japanese Maples. Last season our tomatoes and zinnias were over 5 feet tall, dark green, and very healthy. The Japanese Maple is lush and never looked so good. The roses are strong and suffered no aphid damage. The flowers actually perked up the day after application. I’m not kidding! I can go on and on.

The easiest way to apply it is with a hose-end auto-mix sprayer. We use the Gilmour Hose-End Sprayer #486 . It comes with two nozzles, the “wide spray” pictured here and a “gentle spray” which is great for pots with delicate plants. It requires no mixing. Just pour in the VF-11 and set the dial to “6”, which automatically mixes the VF-11 and water at the proper rate as you spray. All you need to do it wet down the plants, so you can cover a large area in just a few minutes.

Gilmour Sprayer 486

The trick is to make it easy for yourself. Buy the sprayer and keep it next to the VF-11 and in a convenient location (close to the hose). It’s important to make this a habit. Use it once per week on all your plants and write me if you do not see a major improvement.

I can’t say enough about the Gilmour people. I had an old Gilmour sprayer for over 10 years. It had seen better days and was beginning to leak and come apart. I was about to toss it out when I noticed “Lifetime Guarantee” on the label. I found their customer service number online and gave them a call. They asked me a few questions and then said “Your replacement sprayer will be shipped out this week”. No hassles. No charge. Gilmour’s product quality and customer service are both superb.

Get yourself a sprayer and some VF-11 and please let me know how it works for you.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 Responses to “3 Steps to the Perfect Vegetable Garden (Part One)”

  1. Four Steps to Perfect Boysenberries « Smith Family Garden Says:

    […] I’m not too worried about it. Our thornless boysenberries are watered regularly and get VF-11 plant food weekly during the growing […]

  2. Patricia Says:

    I am wondering when you need to start with the vf11? Can you put it on as soon as your seedlings are up? Thanks

    • Chris Says:

      I use VF-11 on everything and at every growth stage. I’ve never seen it burn plants (seedlings included). I try to apply it once a week, once the rains have stopped.

  3. Heather Says:

    I’ve been using VF-11 religiously now for the past two years, I’ve seen no difference (or negative difference) in the plants and roses that I use it on compared to using fish emulsion. I do however notice that each spring the aphids love the roses that I use it on. Can you provide some guidance? I live in Southern California so the climate is pretty moderate and I have a full year growing season depending on the planting. I’m pretty disappointed in the product and have really tried to give a good run of use. But the aphid problem is causing me to rethink. Every post I’ve read on the internet has the opposite reaction with aphids and I am wondering what I could be doing wrong. Thanks!

  4. Chris Says:

    Hi Heather,

    I don’t necessarily use VF-11 for aphid control. I use it weekly to feed all my plants. We get a lot of aphids in early Spring. Last year, on a hunch, I decided to stop using insecticidal soap on the aphids. This is purely speculative, but I think I was killing ladybug larvae as well as aphids. As you probably know, ladybugs LOVE aphids. I decided to simply spray the aphids with water, cross my fingers, and wait for the lady bugs to arrive.

    It may be coincidental but last year we had a huge number of ladybug larvae and adults. They were voracious and ate every last aphid. This year I’m doing the same thing. We’ve seen a few ladybugs, but not in any great numbers (yet). You might want to try this technique if you are currently spraying for aphids. Good Luck!

  5. Heather Says:

    Chris – Thanks for the info, I had a massive aphid infestation this year and was using an organic insect spray initially, when that did not prove useful I ended up purchasing ladybugs (since none were present naturally) and it was very helpful. The lady bugs were gone in a day from my garden, but they did a good job. I still had aphids for about another week, but I think the purchase was well worth it.

  6. Chris Says:

    I plan to do a post on ladybugs soon. I never knew what the larvae looked like until I did a little research online. For the uninitiated, they look nothing like an adult ladybug.

    I’ve purchased ladybugs too. They recommend puting them out in the yard in the evening. It seems that most of mine were gone in a few days. My hope is always that they will lay eggs so that the cycle will start over in my back yard. The eggs are tiny and yellow and can usually be found on the underside of leaves. Be carefull not to destroy them and you’ll have your own “home-grown” ladybugs in the garden.

  7. Tessa at Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots Says:

    Great post- I’ve started using the VF11 and love it for my seedlings. Now that the rains here in Oregon have stopped, somewhat anyway ;), I want to start spraying everything- my question, how much VF11 do you put into the sprayer? I believe it says an ounce on the label. Thanks and happy gardening!

    • Chris Says:

      How funny to get your comment just now…

      I just came in from the garden. I was spraying VF-11 on everything.

      The dosage is one ounce per gallon. I just fill up my hose-end sprayer and set the dial to the number that corresponds to one-ounce-per-gallon. If you don’t have one, get yourself the Gilmour sprayer that we recommend (above). It makes the whole process a no-brainer. Have fun.

  8. Tessa at Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots Says:

    Thanks for the quick reply. I was at our local grocery store today and found a Gilmour sprayer- but it was 499. Would this one work? Do you know what the difference is between the 486 and 499?

  9. Chris Says:

    I looked @ the 499 online and it looks like it has a dial to set the dilution rate. As long as you can set it to “one ounce per gallon”, you should be good to go. Just fill it up with VF-11, set the dial and you’re ready to apply it.

  10. Tessa at Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots Says:

    Thanks so much- that’s what I thought. I love that you only put in an ounce, turn the hose on and Viola! Happy gardening to you 🙂

  11. Sharlene Cooper Says:


  12. Josh Says:

    I would love to use Eleanor’s on my vegetable garden, but I am unsure of where to find it. I read on Eleanor’s website that it is sold at CVS and Home Depot, yet neither of my local stores carry VF-11. Where do you purchase yours?


Leave a Reply to Heather Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: