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Posts tagged fertilizer

Fertilizer – What Do Plants Need

In my post Fertilizer: Selecting the Right NPK Ratio, I explained that you don’t feed plants – you feed the soil. Your job as a gardener is to add missing nutrients to the soil. If the soil contains all the nutrients plants need to live – the plants will do well.

The answer to the question, what fertilizer do plants need, is very simple. They need any nutrient that is deficient in the soil. If your soil is not deficient of nutrients – you do NOT need to fertilize.

But how do we know which nutrient(s) is deficient in the soil? I’ll try to answer this question in this post. In order to do that, we need to better understand what nutrients do in the soil.

fertilizer woodchips

One of the best fertilizers – mulch with wood chips

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Fertilizer – Understanding Plant Nutrients

Plant nutrient is a term used to describe plant food. We all know compost is good for the garden, but most of the good stuff in compost is not ready for plants to use – it is not plant nutrients yet! Over time, the complex molecules in compost, like proteins and carbohydrates, will be broken down by microbes into smaller molecules and eventually they become nutrients.

In this post I will take a close look at the main nutrients used by plants. What are they? What happens to them in soil? The answers to these and other questions will help you understand the process of fertilizing plants better.

Fertilizer - plant nutrients - nitrogen cycle

Fertilizer – plant nutrients – nitrogen cycle

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Fertilizer – Selecting The Right NPK Ratio

We eat 3 times a day and the food we eat provides all of the nutrients we need to live. The chemicals in food are used by our bodies to grow and maintain our body parts. The protein you eat helps build muscles. Carbohydrates provide energy that is used for all kinds of things such as moving, breathing, thinking and eating more food.

Most of the food we eat is in the form of large molecules such as protein, carbohydrates, DNA, and fats. Our digestive system takes these large molecules and breaks them down into smaller molecules like simple sugars and nitrates. Our bodies then use these small molecules as building blocks to build new large molecules. Our bodies are actually a very efficient recycling plant. We take food in, break it down into basic building blocks, and then use these building blocks to create complex body parts.

Plants differ from humans and other animals in that they do not have a digestive system. Therefore, they are not able to break down large molecules. Plants must start with small molecules like nitrate and phosphate and build the large molecules they need.

Fertilizer - select the right NPK

Fertilizer – select the right NPK, by Robert Pavlis

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