Stuff You Missed in Botany: Plant Nutrition

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Plant Nutrition

It was time to feed the melons. They said, “Thank You!” They’re so obedient and respectful when they’re little. They have rewarded me with loads of beautiful flowers that will blossom into a protrusions of melon sweetness. So, I’m more than happy to give them a springtime snack with they’re drink.

Plants get nutrients from the soil, but they also get some goodies from the rain and some plants, like legumes, get nutrients like nitrogen, from the atmosphere. Plants also change the energy the get from the sun into nutrients using the green pigment called chlorophyll in the process of photosynthesis.

So, what are the nutrients that plants need?

Plant nutrients are broken in to two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.

Macronutrients: these can be further broken down into primary and secondary.

Primary Macronutrients are: nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K). These are usually lacking from soil because every kind of vegetation uses these building blocks for development and survival.

Secondary Macronutrients are: calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). These are usually found in soil in adequate quantities. If you add lime to your soil, you will also be adding large quantities of calcium and magnesium. Sulfur is produced by slow decay of green matter, grass clippings, kitchen waste and the like. Usually, additions of these secondary macronutrients are not necessary if you’re giving your plants plenty of well rotted compost.

I add Tums to warm water with Sea Magic and give this to any plants that seem stressed for some reason or another. I’ve had great success with this mix when I use it for transplants, when I’m hardening off seedlings, or anytime it seems like a plant is a bit “put out” about some thing or other. Last week I treated a Raveena eggplant in Paddy’s garden that was miffed about the lake advisory wind that had been hitting it for several days. The Parsnip put a stump in front of it to block the wind, I fed it my “magic” potion and this week it has flowers and is again singing my praises. Isn’t that what we’re really after?

Singing eggplants. ; )

Micronutrients: Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Chloride (CI), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), and Zinc (Zn)

All of these are needed in very small (micro) amounts. They are essential, but they are more apt to already be available for use by vegetation. All of the micronutrients, as well as most of the sufficient amounts of macronutriunts, primary and secondary, are found in well rotted compost with manure.

As we’ve talked about before see phat Tuesday, it’s also important to keep your pH level at that optimum 6.0 to 6.5 range for most plants. The pH level determines if the nutrients, if present in the soil, will be available for the plant to use. Too low a pH results in deficiencies in Macronutrients and too high a pH results in deficiencies of Micronutrients. A pH of 6-6.5 allows use of nutrients and also is beneficial for microbial population growth. Microbes are responsible for converting nitrogen and sulfur to a form that a plant can use.

I hope you’re testing your soil and making sure your little darlings are getting everything they need.

Have a well nourished paisley day!~KeriAnne

 

 

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