Imagine standing in the middle of your garden, and looking all around. What do you see – the result of your hard work in the form of beautiful blooms, ripening fruits, and dark green leaves or shriveled, yellow, and sick plants covered in bugs? If the latter is true, there might be a mineral imbalance in your garden soil.
Be it any kind of soil, it can face nutrient deficiencies at times. While this issue is common, it also has detrimental effects on the health and harvest of your garden plants. Even if your soil is short of one mineral, it can still make your plants susceptible to various diseases and pests which can eventually lead to major plant damage.
In such a case, knowing the Secrets of Soil Mineral Balance is crucial. If you are looking for the same, we have got you covered. In this post, we will tell you all about what our ideal soil needs, how you can find out about it, and ensure a healthy and beautiful yield for your garden plants. Let us get started with it.
What Is an Ideal Soil?
If you wish to have a healthy and blooming garden, the basic need is to make sure that your garden soil is “The Ideal Soil.” If you are wondering what this soil would be made up of, we have the answer for it. Typically, the best kind of soil has the following:
- 45% minerals (30 – 50% sand, 20 – 30% clay, 30 – 50% silt),
- 5 % organic (plant and animal) material,
- 25% air, and
- 25% water.
In case, your soil does not have these exact proportions, there is nothing to worry about. You can always balance it all out with the usage of adequate organic matter. Now, does this bring the question – “Will the Ideal Soil help grow stronger, healthier landscape plants,” to your mind? The answer is simple! Yes, it will.
However, you need to keep in mind that along with your soil being ideal, you also need to take care of other conditions needed for optimal plant growth. Also, even the best soil loses one or another nutrient at some time. It is where you need to make use of fertilizers to provide it back to your soil. Now, let us find out how you can know if your soil needs any soil mineral or not.
How to Know What Your Soil Needs?
From soil minerals and trace elements in the soil to its Cation Exchange Capacity, many factors can determine the fertility and overall health of any soil. Now, as mentioned above, while your soil may be ideal at one point, after frequent use, it is prone to lack some nutrient or another. In such a case, how can you know about it?
Well, there are a couple of methods you can make use of for this. The first one is the visual inspection of your garden. For it, look around your garden and observe the plants. Usually, the condition of their leaves will tell you a lot about what the soil needs. That being said, a look at your garden cannot always completely help you determine the mineral content in the soil.
Soil testing is important for it. Along with knowing about the mineral balance, it also tells you about the overall health of the soil and its pH which also needs to be corrected for optimal plant growth and crop yield. While you can readily get test kits for the same, you can also opt for a laboratory test for more accurate and detailed results.
What Are Some Secrets of Soil Mineral Balance?
Now, let us move on to the secrets of oil mineral balance that every garden owner must know about. In this section, we will be talking about some of the essential mineral ratios that are needed for sustainable Eco-Agriculture. These ratios can affect your plants for better or worse. Let us find out about them. Have a look:
This particular ratio directly affects the oxygen that will be made available to your plants through the soil. To explain it to you well, we will talk about photosynthesis. This is the process through which plants “breathe” via their leaves. Now, the better the plants in your garden will breathe, the better they will be able to grow.
The Calcium: Magnesium ratio that we are talking about here governs this entire process. Both of these minerals collectively help plants with it. Just like iron in humans acts as a vehicle to move oxygen around, Magnesium does the same for plants. Calcium, on the other hand, aids magnesium in doing so by providing it aeration. Thus, this ratio is also crucial for building and maintaining the fertility of the soil.
Like the ratio mentioned above, this one too is vital for photosynthesis, especially potassium. Along with this, it also is necessary for the immunity of plants. The most ideal ratio for these minerals in an ideal soil kind is 1:1. If you manage to achieve it for your soil, it will not only optimize but also increase the uptake of magnesium and potassium in plants.
The next ratio that is important is that of phosphorus and sulfur. The former is needed for the color of fruits, quality of crops, production of sugar in fruits, plant immunity, and disease resistance. The latter, on the other hand, plays another role. It ensures that your plants will be able to build proteins needed by them along with essential amino acids. This mineral is present in humus.
So, if you have a humus layer in your garden, your soil will never fall short of this nutrient. Like the previous ratio that is needed as 1:1. The same is true for this one, as well. Similarly, it also ensures that the plants uptake these soil minerals properly and to an optimal level.
Like sulfur, phosphorus also needs to have a perfect ratio with zinc. With its help, phosphates can energize effectively inside the plants. Further, this ratio is also needed for the uptake of water in plants along with the fixation of nitrogen in your garden soil.
The minerals in this ratio also work together to determine the leaf size. This surface area of the leaf then affects photosynthetic activity, making the ratio necessary for photosynthesis, as well. The perfect ratio that your soil will need for this is 10:1.
The next ratio is that of iron and manganese. Ideally, it should be 2:1. Both these soil minerals are needed for plant resilience. Together, they can help your plants to keep away from both pests and diseases. That being said, if their ratio is not right in the soil, instead of working together, they will work against each other. If this happens, it can affect plant growth and yield.
The last ratio that you need to know for soil mineral balance is that of potassium and sodium. The ideal ratio for these soil minerals is 4:1. The former element in this ratio is needed for fruiting and flower fertility. As for sodium, it is not needed as much as potassium. Your plants will need it only in small amounts to promote metabolism.
Apart from all these rations mentioned above, there are other soil minerals and trace elements like Molybdenum that your soil may require to stay healthy. For instance, plants like green beans take up Molybdenum from the soil and use it to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil. Also, this element is needed for the plant’s immune system.
How Can Leaf Analysis Help with Soil Mineral Balance?
While soil testing is recommended, a lead analysis can be used to determine whether or not you need it. This is the quickest as well as the easiest way to know about problems with your soil. Usually, the deficiencies that affect the older leaves first include Nitrogen, Cobalt. Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Molybdenum deficiencies.
A deficiency that tends to appear in middle growth than the oldest or youngest leaves is the Manganese deficiency. In it, you can observe yellowing between the leaf veins. Also, the veins turn a pale color and also lose their definition. Some deficiencies that first appear in the younger leaves include Calcium, Sulfur, Iron, Copper, Zinc, and Boron deficiencies.
Final Thoughts: Getting the Soil Mineral Balance Right
Not every gardener out there is blessed with the best of soils. So, even if you start with poor soil, you can always fix it by getting the soil mineral balance right. The only way to do so is to get your soil tested. Once you find out the nutrients it lacks, you can easily use effective organic methods to fix it. A great solution you can use to improve the quality of your soil is compost – a low-cost solution. However, do keep in mind that it cannot fix serious mineral deficiencies. You will have to use related organic fertilizer for it.