At the heart of all organic growing is the art and science of natural fertilizing and long-term soil building. Healthy soil nurtures healthy plants which grow better, taste better, store longer. Fertile soil is the first step to increased yields and quality and enhanced natural pest control and season extension.
What is N-P-K?
When looking at the labels of fertilizers one notices 3 numbers. For instance, if an organic fertilizer is designated 6-4-2 or 6N, 4P, and 2K, the fertilizer contains 6% nitrogen(N), 4% phosphorous (P) and 2% potassium (K). N,P, and K are generally classified as major nutrients, while 10 others are labeled minor, or trace elements.
Nitrogen (N) is essential for green leafy growth and plant vigor. Nitrogen deficiency is indicated by slow growth, lighter green color followed by yellowing tips, usually starting with the older leaves at the bottom of the plant. Eventually the plant becomes spindly. An excess, however, will cause heavy leaf growth with little or no fruit because the plant is putting all of its energy into growth.
Organic Fertilizing : Making Organic Compost
Organic fertilizer is composed of aerobic bacteria that are beneficial to both humans and plants.
Phosphorus (P) promotes root development; it helps plants develop sturdiness and aids in the production and maturation of flowers and fruit. If soil tests show a very low phosphorus content, or if last year your green crops exhibited a reddish purple coloration in their stems and leaf veins, or if your fruiting crops were leafy but unproductive, you may may need to add this element to your soil.
Potassium (K), also known as potash, is indispensable for cell division and growth. Potassium provides the balance between the growth factor of nitrogen and the ripening influence of phosphorus. It is necessary for new cell growth, especially in the roots and buds, so it is important for root crops such as beets and potatoes. Potassium helps plants form strong stems and fight off disease. Deficiency is indicated when leaves at the plant base turn grayish-green. Leaf edges yellow, brown or blacken and curl downward. Black spots appear along leaf veins. New leaves curl and crinkle.
Flowers and fruit are small and inferior. Kelp Meal is a medium release fertilizer which adds necessary micro-nutrients and trace elements to the soil. Because Kelp Meal contains some growth hormones, you should be careful to never add more than one pound of it per 100 square feet.
Natural Amendments High in Nitrogen (N)
Blood Meal (12-0-0) a rich source of slow release nitrogen plus trace minerals for promoting green, leafy growth. Work blood meal into soil well as it can burn roots if it comes into contact with them.
Cottonseed Meal (6-2-1) is a excellent all purpose, natural source of nitrogen. Its low pH makes it ideal for fertilizing acid loving plants such as blueberries, rhododendrons and azaleas.
Bat Guano (10-3-1) is the accumulated droppings of bats collected from dry caves protected from the elements. Bat Guano is a fast-acting, natural source of nitrogen. Use early in the season to stimulate vegetative growth. It is an excellent fertilizer to promote early growth and is also excellent for foliar feeding.
Natural Amendments High in Phosphorus (P)
Bone Meal (3-15-0) is an excellent slow-release source of phosphorus and calcium. Calcium is essential for keeping nutrients free and available in the soil. It strengthens cell wall integrity and stalk structure. Work bone meal into soil beneath plants as it does not travel in soil.
Granulated Rock Phosphate (0-3-0) is an economical, slow release source of phosphorus. Its granulated formula means less dust and makes it easier to use.
Natural Amendments High in Potassium
Kelp Meal (1-0.1-2) is one of the best sources of trace minerals. Kelp Meal has over 70 minerals, plant growth regulators, vitamins, hormones and enzymes. As a soil additive, it stimulates microbial activity and provides a strong supply of naturally chelated nutrients.
Soil pH – What is it and Why is it Important?
pH is the symbol that stands of potential hydrogen. A soil test for pH determines whether your soil is acid or alkaline-too acidic (a pH of 6.0 or lower) or too alkaline (a pH of 8.0 or higher) will tie up essential minerals in the soil making them unavailable. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and other Nutrient deficiencies will appear because and acid medium makes them less biologically available. Alkaline soil will manifest itself in micro-nutrient deficiencies and poor plant performance. Territorial carries both a Luster Leaf Soil Test Kit, ZHG549 that tests for a pH and for nitrogen, phosphorus and potash; and a pH Test Kit ZHG550 to test for soil acidity/alkalinity.
What’s New Under the Sun – Bio-Stimulants
A healthy root environment is the most important factor affecting plant growth. A high level of biologically active components such as humic acids, kelp extracts, vitamins and enzymes promote rapid rood growth and a more efficient uptake of nutrients in the soil. Roots is a natural organic bio-stimulant that is used to stimulate vigorous root growth without stimulating excessive top growth. While environmental awareness continues to increase in mainstream agriculture, on the garden level, environmental and safety concerns are also rising. The various Roots products are natural and safe for both people and the environment.