Welcome back to my Soil Series! Today, we are going to talk about the three major elements in our fertilizers: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potash. This is also known as NPK and we see these three numbers on our bags of fertilizer. We are going to talk about what it is and what it does for each plant and what happens if we have too much or not enough. In order to have healthy soil, we need to understand each element in our soil and how to replenish it when we apply our fertilizer.
Nitrogen, aka N, focuses on everything above the soil. It makes our lawns green and increases growth in stems and leaves in plants. Also, nitrogen is a major component of chlorophyll, which is important to photosynthesis. Nitrogen based fertilizer comes in two forms as well: quick release and slow release. The quick release nitrogen based fertilizers are going to give the plants its nutrients right away but does not last really long and will need to be reapplied. Slow release nitrogen based fertilizers will allow plants to receive nutrients over time. When our soil is lacking nitrogen, our plants will turn yellow green, thinner stems, and have stunted growth. When there is too much nitrogen, our plants will be lush green but it will hinder their ability to produce fruit and flowers.
To encourage the fruit and blooms takes me to the next element in fertilizer, Phosphorus, or P. Phosphorus is important in a plant’s ability to utilize and store nutrients. It is also aids in photosynthesis as well. Not only does phosphorous encourage fruits and blooms, but it also strengthens root systems. When the soil has too much phosphorus, the plant cannot utilize some micronutrients and it causes the plant to wither. Too much phosphorus can also cause the plant to grow poorly and potentially die. When our phosphorus is too high, we need to stop adding organic matter to our gardens. When the phosphorus is too low, it cause stunted growth and prevents the plant from having flowers, fruit, and seeds. Lack of phosphorus may cause leaves to turn into a lifeless dark blue color.
The last piece to the elemental trio is Potash, aka K. There is a bit of a difference between potash and potassium. Potash is potassium in a water soluble form whereas elemental potassium is a reactive, silvery metal that is reactive to water. Potash is responsible to help out all parts of the plant - from the roots to the stems. Potash helps plants to use water and being strong during a drought period. It also aids in the development of fruits and vegetables. Potash increases disease resistance and improves over all strength to the plant. When we have too much potash, it affects how plants utilize the nutrients and will cause potential deficiencies. When plants do not have enough potash, the plant will have stunted growth and will be weak. Leaves may looked scorched when there is not enough potassium.
These three are your big three for your plants nutrition and very vital to your plants health. If you suspect your plant lacking any of these, stop into your lock garden center and have them test your soil and they will tell you what you need to put into the soil too. Thank you so much on following my soil sample series! Next up we are going to talk about the actual biome of the soil and talk about the ways that we can make the soil the best that it can be!