When it comes to gardening, the key to producing the best quality crops is healthy soil. Whether you are carrying out Survival Gardening or simply doing so for fun, it is not necessary that you may be blessed with perfect soil. Most of us out there has a garden in less-than-perfect soil. That being said, once you know about the components of healthy soil, you can readily find out what your soil needs to yield the best results.
This post is here to help you out with the same. In this Soil Minerals and Soil Prescriptions for Organic Gardeners guide, you will learn about all the soil minerals (major and trace elements) that are crucial for plants. Also, we will be introducing you to some of the best soil prescriptions you can use to improve the quality of your soil. For instance, you can use Natural Nitrate Of Soda if your leafy crops are deficient in nitrogen.
Soil Minerals for Organic Gardeners
The topmost layer of the earth’s crust is a mixture of various components. Out of all of them, soil minerals are as much as 40-45%. Being the largest component in the soil, these soil minerals play a vital role in determining the fertility and productivity of the soil. Therefore, for anyone who gardens, it is crucial to learn about them.
There are various companies out there like gardener’s supply that can also help solve your queries about them. If you have no idea about soil minerals, you need to know that they are basically of two types – major soil minerals and trace elements. To grow vibrant and healthy plants, you will need to supply both major and trace elements.
Before we move on to the Soil Prescriptions for the same, let us first explain to you briefly what elements fall under the major elements and trace elements list. The elements that are major nutrients needed by plants include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Here is how they are helpful to plants:
- Nitrogen (N)
This element is needed by plants for their development and growth. It is also essential for good leaf color and photosynthesis.
- Phosphorus (P)
Plants require this soil mineral element to develop strong roots. Further, it also increases flower blooms and aids seed production and fruit ripening.
- Potassium (K)
Its function is to make the plant resistant to all kinds of damage from hot and cold weather conditions. Along with this, K is also needed by plants to keep away from various plant diseases and to facilitate the uptake of other mineral elements through roots.
- Calcium (Ca)
Moving on to calcium, it is needed by plants for the building of strong cell walls. Due to it, this mineral element promotes overall plant health, as well.
- Magnesium (Mg)
Gardeners need to make sure their plants get enough of this element as it is needed for important plant processes like seed formation and photosynthesis. Also, Mg is vital for the regulation of other soil mineral elements.
- Sulfur (S)
The last major element you need to know about is sulfur. This particular element is crucial for the manufacture of chlorophyll that is needed for an important plant process – photosynthesis. Thus, this element also encourages overall plant growth.
After the major soil elements, let us move on to Trace elements that you need to know about. These include chlorine, Molybdenum, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, and Boron. Here are some major functions of these elements:
- Chlorine (CI)
This trace element is needed by plants for osmotic and stomatal regulation which is crucial for photosynthesis. It is also required for disease resistance and tolerance.
- Molybdenum (Mo)
The function of this element is to enable the fixation of nitrogen in legumes. For other plants, it makes nitrogen utilization possible.
- Iron (Fe)
The next trace element is Fe, and it is needed for the production of chlorophyll. For those who are not aware, this pigment imparts green color to leaves and is a crucial part of photosynthesis.
- Manganese (Mn)
This trace element is needed by plants for growth and development. Also, in various plant cell compartments, this element handles various metabolic roles.
- Copper (Cu)
This element is needed for various enzymatic activities in plants. It is also crucial for chlorophyll and seed production.
- Zinc (Zn)
This trace element is required in seed production. Also, it is a vital component of various plant enzymes needed for metabolic reactions.
- Boron (B)
This element is needed by the plant for cellular growth. Along with this, it also helps regulate the uptake of nutrients, and thus, plays a role in the growth and development of plants.
This covers one section for Soil Minerals and Soil Prescriptions for Organic Gardeners. You must know that for optimal plant growth, it needs both major elements and trace elements in the right proportions. If you can get these soil minerals right, your plants are sure to grow strong and become resistant to rot, pests, and disease.
Soil Prescriptions for Organic Gardeners
By now, you know all about the crucial Soil Minerals for organic gardeners. Now, what if your garden is deficient in one or more of these minerals? In such a case, soil prescriptions in the form of fertilizers come in handy. Here, we will be discussing the same. Below, you can find some of the best soil prescriptions for organic gardeners. Have a look:
Found in the late-Cretaceous deposits of New Jersey, this is fossil-rich and low in sedimentary input. The Jersey Greensand fertilizer can be used if your plants are deficient in iron, potassium, and magnesium. It is because it is a rich source of glauconite that is high in all these soil minerals important for plant health.
Further, Greensand fertilizer can help improve moisture retention in your soil and also loosen it. This plant supplement has been in the market for over a century, and can also soften hard water and promote root growth. To apply it to your soil, you need to know that it is not water-soluble and needs to be broken down.
So, a general rule can be to mix 480 ml of it in the soil around each of your plants. This fertilizer is organically certified and gentle for even the most sensitive plants. Further, its green color helps absorb the sun. The best time to use it in your garden is early spring. You can simply do so as an all-purpose fertilizer or even a soil amendment.
Ocean Fish Bone Meal
If you are new to gardening, Ocean Fish Bone Meal might be a new term for you. Its meaning translates to a plant meal that is made of grounded-up or powdered animal bones. This garden fertilizer is rich in nutrients and can be excellent for your garden soil. For this reason, it has gained a huge fan base among gardeners worldwide.
The garden fertilizer is rich in phosphorus, nitrogen, and calcium. From an organic gardening point of view, it is the perfect choice to improve your garden’s soil structure. In case you have flowering plants in your garden, ocean fish bone meal fertilizer can work amazingly for them. It is also an excellent supplement for indoor plants and fruit-bearing plants. With it, you are sure to have bigger and healthier blooms and bulbs.
Tennessee Rock Phosphate
Tennessee Phosphorite or Tennessee Rock Phosphate has high amounts of phosphorus. This Tennessee sedimentary rock is mined and also has clay and limestone as a part of it. Since it has high amounts of phosphorus, it can be used in case of the deficiency of K which is one of the three vital nutrients for plants – NPK.
Due to this, it is a long-standing organic fertilizer for organic gardeners. When the plants receive phosphorus from this plant supplement, it makes other plant nutrients more accessible to them. Thus, it keeps them healthy and encourages new growth. Further, phosphorus that it imparts to the soil is also needed by plants for photosynthesis and various other plant metabolic pathways and life functions.
Granulated Feather Meal
The next soil prescription you need to know about is Granulated Feather Meal. First, let us tell you how this natural organic fertilizer is formed. In simple words, when you treat feathers with high heat and ground them up, the end product you get is a feather meal. It is the best-suited soil prescription for those plants that need consistent levels of nitrogen.
It is because the feathers used to make it are rich in keratin – a structural protein. This protein is further high in nitrogen which is one of the most crucial mineral elements needed by all plants for optimal growth. With feather meal, your garden’s soil structure can improve and the plants can have increased green leaf growth. Also, it activates compost decomposition. For the best results, you need to use it once each month during the growing season.
After the feather meal, you need to know about K-Mag. This naturally-occurring mineral is a powerful crop fertilizer that has a perfect balance of potassium, magnesium, and sulfur. Further, it has low chloride levels and a neutral pH that makes the even distribution of nutrients to plants possible and results in a high yield.
Natural Potassium Sulfate
Another soil prescription that is recommended is Natural Potassium Sulfate. This is a great source of potassium for organic gardens. Further, the potassium that the soil receives from it is in a stable, pH-neutral form. This fertilizer provides K to plants along with eliminating drawbacks like leaching and killing of important microorganisms.
Research about it for the wheat crop further shows that it is the best option to increase the maximum biomass in a saline environment. Further, it was also seen that the use of this fertilizer also increases the uptake of other soil minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium in such soil kinds.
Chilean Nitrate of Soda
The next soil prescription for nitrogen imbalance in plants is the Chilean Nitrate of Soda. This is a mined source of nitrogen that is highly soluble. This plant supplement is known to work where traditional methods cannot. This is in terms of nitrogen timing, solubility, and/or form. Some of these methods include cover cropping, composting, crop rotations, etc.
While these methods are slow, this soil prescription can release nitrogen fast. The nitrogen in it is in the form of nitrates and can easily dissolve in water to make it available to the soil. Thus, if you need fast growth for your garden plants, this may be the best option for them.
When it comes to organic gardening, there is no better way to improve yield than to enhance the natural processes of plants. It is where Humate Ore comes into the picture. This provides the best conditions for biological activity and chemical reactions. It, thereby, results in the physical improvement of soil. It also improves fertilizer efficiency by reducing their leaching into aquifer and surface waters.
Final Thoughts – Are There Any Other Soil Prescriptions for Organic Gardeners?
So, this was all about the Soil Minerals and Soil Prescriptions for Organic Gardeners. Apart from all the soil prescriptions mentioned above, various others can help you out. You can easily look for them online as per your garden concerns. The best way to figure this out is by getting your soil tested.
For instance, if your soil is super lacking in minerals, a naturally rich soil remineralized Azomite TM with more than 70 trace minerals might be a great option for you. Another such soil prescription you can make use of is Atlantic Kelp Meal. This is an excellent liquid fertilizer. It can not only replenish and boost various soil nutrients but can also bind soil crumbs together.
Glacial Rock Dust is another fertilizer you can go for. This is best to improve water retention capacity, soil pH, plant mortality, and plant health in general. Two other prescriptions include Paramagnetic Basalt and MycoApply® Endo/Ecto granular. The former is great for micro-nutrient deficient soils and the latter works wonders by increasing the rooting area.
As we said, the list of plant prescriptions you can use for your organic garden is super long. That being said, never just provide any of it to your soil without checking it. After all, even an excess of any of the vital soil minerals can turn out to be fatal for your plants. Happy gardening!