Even if you have the best quality soil in the world, eventually it’s going to need a boost in nutrients, especially if you have been using it consistently and have had plants sucking the goodies out of it. Replacing these nutrients can be done by nourishing your soil.
Fertiliser should not be mistaken as plant food since plants produce their own sugars to support its own functions. Still, fertilisers are normally referred to as “plant food” – an indispensable plant food that helps nourish your soil tremendously.
3 Major Elements
Carbon dioxide and hydrogen are taken in from the air. For hydrogen, sometimes it is obtained in water. All other essential elements are taken in by the plants root system with the water. Leaves have also been known to absorb some nutrition but only to a limited extent.
The main elements necessary for plant growth are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Nitrogen is the protein used for cell generation in plant. It is the nutrient that is required to generate leaves and is also a major component of chlorophyll which is the green pigment found in all green plants.
Phosphorus is also important for cell formation, particularly in the development of seedlings, root systems, flowers, fruits, and seeds.
Potassium is an essential element in photosynthesis. Basically, it helps the plant in sugar production. It also helps the plant absorb water and resist diseases. It also helps in the creation of flowers, fruits, and seeds.
Other Minor Elements
Calcium is the nutrient responsible for the formation of the cell wall structure in plants. It is normally available in lime, superphosphate and gypsum. However, it can be released by heavy rain for plants to absorb. If you notice blossom end rot on your produce, this is most likely caused by calcium deficiency which could have risen from improper watering.
Other than nitrogen, sulphur is also essential for production of proteins. However, deficiency of sulphur in plants is rare since most plant foods contain an abundant amount of sulphur.
Magnesium is a component of the green pigment in plant known as chlorophyll; hence it is important in photosynthesis. New leaves need a good supply of magnesium and deficiency of this nutrient is rarely observed because it is readily available within the plant system. Deficiency is manifested through the yellowing of the older leaves of the plants which can easily be resolved by dissolving Epsom Salts in water which will then be provided to the plant.
Some Trace Elements
Aside from the aforementioned major and minor elements, plants also require other elements. These are considered only as trace elements since plants only require a minimum quantity of these. These elements include iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, and molybdenum. Keep in mind that an excessive application of nutrients can have results as severe as the result of a nutrient deficiency so always remember to use fertilisers in moderation.
Nourish Your Soil with these 2 Kinds of Fertilisers
Animal Manures – Animal manure when applied in large amounts in the soil is an excellent means of improving the quality of soil. However, it is quite difficult to measure and identify the nutritional content of manure since it will vary depending on the type of manure and the diet of the animal from which the manure came from.
Pelletized Poultry and Sheep Manures – This is manure compressed to become pellets that break down over a long period of time. This way, the nutrients are released slowly into the soil which means convenience for many gardeners and farmers. Some examples of pelletized fertiliser include Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food and BioGold.
Blood and Bone – This is another type of fertiliser that is released slowly over time. It is created from abattoir waste products. While this provides gentle and long term fertilization, it does not have potassium. As a gardener, you will need to find another product that can provide your plants with the potassium that it needs
Green Manure Crops – leguminous plants or legumes such as peas and beans are planted because of its ability to trap nitrogen which can later be released to fertilize new plants.
Powdered and Granular NPK fertilisers – are available in various forms to be used for different types of plants. This type of fertiliser contains high amount of nitrogen specifically modified for easy absorption by plants. This however should be accompanied by a lot of watering for optimum absorption. If insufficient water is provided, the nitrogen may only help damage the root systems
Water Soluble and Liquid Fertilisers – are specifically made to dissolve easily in water for easy absorption. This can be applied using a watering can or through a hose spray system.
Controlled Release Fertiliser – is the newest kind of fertiliser. An example of this is Yates Nutricote which is made of soluble NPK fertilisers enclosed by a protective polymer resin layer which controls dissolution rate and absorption rate. Release of nutrients is activated by temperature; hence, nutrients are release at the critical time when the plants are growing. This is also the time that the plants need nutrients the most.
Visit GardenWare.com.au for more on Gardening Guide and Tips or read some interesting articles about “nourishing your soil” below:
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