Unfortunately not all soil has the nutrients that plants need to grow and thrive. In some cases it may be a lacking in one area or another and therefore need a boost. Here are the most common types of soil deficiency and the best ways to deal with each of them.
Nitrogen is important for chlorophyll production in plants which allows for green leafy growth. Plants in nitrogen deficient soil will typically have leaves that are yellow or even red along with reduced growth.
Typically this deficiency is seen in soil that has low organic content. To add nitrogen to soil you can use organic matter such as manure or compost. A high nitrogen fertilizer such as chicken manure pellets can also help.
Phosphorous is necessary for normal plant growth and maturity. It also plays a role in energy storage, cell division, and helps with photosynthesis among other processes. Symptoms of a phosphorus deficiency in soil are often poor plant growth and a lower than normal rate of fruit and flower production.
Leaves may also be smaller in size and have a purple or yellow discoloration. A phosphorous deficiency often occurs after heavy rains, or in soils which are more acidic or clay-based. Adding phosphorus to soil can be accomplished by applying bone meal or a super phosphate fertilizer.
Potassium regulates carbon dioxide uptake and encourages flower and fruit growth. Evidence of a potassium deficiency in soil are curled and scorched leaves. This deficiency can be a big problem for plants that require a lot of potassium such as tomatoes, beans, and fruits.
There is often low potassium in soil that is peaty or sandy. To boost the amount many gardeners use sulphate of potash or tomato feed. As a potassium supplement you can also use banana peels in the garden as well. Although you may want to bury them so you don’t attract backyard pests.
Calcium is vital for keeping together a plant’s cell walls. A calcium deficiency in soil often produces plants which have distorted shoots and root tips. Plants such as tomatoes tend to have what’s known as blossom end rot, while apples often have dark spots under their skin.
Both under-watered and acidic soils can make it difficult for plants to take in calcium. Lime and gypsum are the most common choices for adding calcium to soil.
While plants only need a small amount of it, iron plays a big part in helping with photosynthesis, respiration, and producing healthy green leaves. Iron deficiency in soil will often cause yellowing between leaf veins and stunted growth.
More severe deficiencies may cause leaves to appear white in color. They often occur when plants that need a high soil pH are grown in an alkaline soil. A granular or powdered chelated iron soil supplement can help to improve iron levels.
Magnesium is a building block of chlorophyll and therefore very important to photosynthesis. A magnesium deficiency in soil will typically result in the yellowing of leaves which may also include brown spots. In more serious cases withering and dropping of leaves can occur.
It many times occurs in sandy soil particularly after periods of a lot of rain. Too much potassium in soil can actually lead to the plant absorbing it instead of magnesium. And this can lead to a magnesium deficiency as well. Both Epsom salts and lime can work well for adding magnesium to soil.
By keeping an eye out for any of the symptoms listed above you can quickly identify which type of soil deficiency is the culprit. And by following the recommended solution you should be able to improve the quality of your soil and garden as soon as possible.
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