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Grow Your Own, Nevada! Fall 2011: Basic Soils, Watering and Fertilizing

Grow Your Own, Nevada! Fall 2011: Basic Soils, Watering and Fertilizing






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  • Soil performs certain roles that support plants during their growth and development. A good soil provides anchorage and stability to plant roots. Its structure has enough pores to allow air to circulate and provide oxygen for root respiration and other processes. It has good water-holding capacity so that plant roots can absorb the water needed for plant growth. However, it should not hold so much water that it forces out the air that plant roots need to respire. In other words, there should be a balance between its water-holding capacity and drainage properties. Lastly, a good soil will be a source of nutrients for plant roots to absorb – whether provided through breakdown of organic matter in the soil or simply the ability to hold on to the nutrients provided when the gardener applies fertilizer.
  • The analysis of a fertilizer states the quantity and type of nutrients contained in the container. This is indicated by 3 numbers on the container that always stand for the same thing, in the same order. The first number is the percentage of nitrogen contained in the fertilizer – in this case, 32%; the second number refers to percentage of phosphorus in the form of phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5) – in this case, 10%, and the third number is the percentage of potassium in the form of potash (K2O) – in this case 10%. Balanced fertilizers contain these three elements in equal percentages – for example 10-10-10. A complete fertilizer contains all 3 elements but not necessarily equal percentages. A single-element fertilizer contains only one element. Many things must be considered when choosing the proper fertilizer – most important is the nutrient balance and the form of the fertilizer. These factors should be considered when trying to compare prices for the best deal.
  • ymptoms:Phosphorus deficiency is most often manifested as purpling of the leaves, particularly the leaf veins. In severe cases the whole plant may take on a purple hue. Tomato roots growing in cold soil, either in the greenhouse or the field, take up phosphorus poorly. Deficient plants lose vigor and yield poorly.Control:While phosphorus deficiency due to improper fertility may be a problem in hydroponic, pot culture, and some sandy soil conditions, it is most likely a result of cool root zone temperatures. Plastic mulch will alleviate the problem in early field plantings, and a balanced liquid feed fertilizer will alleviate the problem in greenhouse and pot culture.
  • Potassium also has many essential functions in plants, including sugar formation and movement in plants, formation of chlorophyll, and leaf stomate opening and closing for gas exchange with the air. Like nitrogen, potassium is very prone to leaching in soils. And plants will tend to take up as much as you want to give them – even if they don’t need it, so it’s easy to waste money on excess fertilizer. Also, over-fertilizing with potassium (and nitrogen for that matter) will injure plants by killing the root and leaf tips.

Grow Your Own, Nevada! Fall 2011: Basic Soils, Watering and Fertilizing Grow Your Own, Nevada! Fall 2011: Basic Soils, Watering and Fertilizing Presentation Transcript