GardenWise on Plant Nutrients

We found this great story from Feb. and wanted to share some of these tips on plant nutrients. 

When it comes down to it, most old-fashioned gardeners have plant care imprinted on their fingers. We  add water as needed and allow oxygen to enter the soil by not compacting it. Certain natural soil amendments address specific needs: dried blood or cottonseed meal produce quick, nitrogen-fueled growth, for example, and bone meal provides phosphorus for healthy roots.

If you buy fertilizer labeled with the letters N, P, and K, in percentage amounts, you know how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that fertilizer contains. Those are the three soil elements that plants need the most for growth. It is also good to know that calcium (Ca), sulfur (S) and magnesium (Mg) must be present in significant quantities. Required in trace amounts are certain micronutrients such as iron (Fe). And of course, in order to survive, plants need oxygen (O), hydrogen (H) and carbon (C), which they get from water (H2O) and from carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air.

Read more  from Barbara Damrosch on plant nutrients

Feed the Soil

Feed the Soil not the Plant.  Plant health depends on healthy roots; healthy roots depend on healthy soil for air, water and nutrients delivered in forms plants can use. Soil that is rich in organic matter, aka compost, is rich in nutrients and in the life that makes those nutrients available to the plants (bacteria, worms, etc.) .

Ornamental plants in good soil usually do not need added fertilizer, and crop plants that do need extra food need less of it when it’s released slowly by friendly soil from things such as rock powders, kelp and green manures.