Soil texture and soil nutrients seriously affects your plants’ growth, interrupting the natural processes needed for cell growth and photosynthesis. If your garden’s soil isn’t properly maintained, or your hydroponic nutrients aren’t at their best, then you won’t be able to grow flowers or vegetables. Make sure to test your soil and make the necessary adjustments depending on which plants you want to sow.
The different types of soil will affect how roots develop due to being acidic, alkaline, too compact, or too loose. Chalky soils, for example, are very alkaline and be either light or heavy with their main component being calcium carbonate. Peat soils on the other hand have high levels of moisture and organic matter.
With particle sizes being less than 0.002mm, clay soils have high amounts of nutrients. They’re heavy soils that become baked dry in the summer and cold and wet in the winter. Clay soils drain slowly, taking longer to warm up when spring comes around. Although potentially rewarding due to being highly fertile, clay soils can be tricky to cultivate in. This soil is sticky when it’s wet and easy to roll in your fingers.
These soils are dry, light, low in nutrients, usually acidic, and warm with particles between 0.05mm and 2mm. Sandy soils have a higher amount of sand than clay, drying very quickly after rainfall and watering. They are easy to work and cultivate, warming up nicely in spring. You can identify these soils by its gritty feel, with the sand grains easily felt as the soil falls through your fingers.
Loams are soils with a mix of silt, clay, and sand and very fertile. They are easy to work with and well-drained and being sandy-loam or clay-loam depending on the principal element of its composition.
Silt soils have particles between 0.002mm and 0.05mm and are made of intermediate-sized particles, have a well-drained quality and are very fertile. They can, however, be easily compacted although they hold more moisture than sandy soils.
Having balanced nutrients in your garden’s soil can be tricky – specific plants will have specific needs such as pH levels, soil textures, and nutrient quantities. A great way of keeping your soil balanced is to plant a wide variety of flowers and vegetables that would normally be found together in nature. You can easily transform your garden into an effective ecosystem.
There are three main reasons why your plants aren’t receiving or absorbing nutrients properly, leading to nutrient deficiencies:
Helping to control water uptake and allowing for better energy use for photosynthesis, potassium helps plants grow stronger, flower, and grow fruits. Chalky or sandy soils are more likely to have shortages of potassium – due to water washing this nutrient away. Clay soils contain potassium in their natural structure.
Symptoms of potassium deficiency will present as flowering and fruiting issues, in addition to leaves browning with a tint of yellow or purple at the edges. Feeds with high potassium are ideal to introduce the nutrient in the soil.
As it promotes green leaf growth, a nitrogen deficiency is immediately noticeable through stunted growth and yellowing leaves. Due to being highly soluble, nitrogen is easily washed away when it rains. Around spring, this causes new growth to have yellow leaves.
Adding organic mulch to the soil provides a long-term, slow release solution for a nitrogen deficiency. For a short-term solution to fix a severe deficiency, or to make sure a deficiency doesn’t occur, add a plant feed high in nitrogen.
For both photosynthesis and energy harnessing, magnesium deficiencies cause leaves to yellow between the veins and can cause reddish-brown colours. Plants such as grape vines, tomatoes, apples, roses, and raspberries.
High-potassium feeds – such as tomato feeds – should be used sparingly to avoid a magnesium deficiency. Plants tend to prefer absorbing potassium in preference to absorbing magnesium. A fertiliser high in magnesium, such as an Oldtimer Magnesium will keep your plants healthy and growing normally.
Imperative for both shoot growth and healthy roots, a phosphorus deficiency causes dull and yellow leaves and slows growth. Although relatively rare, a phosphorus deficit is more likely to occur in areas with heavy clay soil and high levels of rainfall. A feed with high levels of phosphorus is ideal for your garden.
Healthy plant growth requires molybdenum in very small quantities and, as such, there are rarely molybdenum deficiencies. Should your soil be acidic, however, make sure to pay extra attention due to these conditions making the nutrient less available to the roots. Plants such as brassicas and cauliflowers are more affected, presenting twisted and elongated leaves.
Adding lime to the soil and making it more alkaline allows for more nutrient availability in a long-term period.
Vital for photosynthesis, manganese and iron can be insufficient in plants’ roots in alkaline soils. Plants that thrive in acidic soil (ericaceous plants) are particularly vulnerable. Affected plants will have yellowing between the veins, and plants that thrive on acid experience browning of their leaves’ edges.
Applying manganese and chelated iron through a feed solution to the soil, and around plants’ roots, will help to fix any deficiencies.
Alkaline conditions can cause boron deficiencies; however, they are fortunately rare. Vital for plant cell formation, vegetables with a boron deficiency will present different symptoms: swedes, celeriac and turnips rot, lettuces get tip dieback and stunted growth, pears get dimples and brown patches, and celery presents brown cracks.
Before sowing your vegetables, make sure to apply borax (or disodium tetraborate) to the soil. The values are 35g of borax per 20 square metres. The borax should be properly mixed with large quantities of sand to ensure even chemical distribution. You can also use it as a spray feed on pear trees, if needed, with values at 70g of borax in 22 litres of water. As a wetting agent, add a few drops of detergent.
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Whether you are an expert who already has a thriving crop of healthy plants, or you are trying to grow your very first hydroponic yield, we can help you to grow the strong and healthy crops you have always wanted.
Here at Plant Magic Plus, our team of gardening experts work very hard behind the scenes to provide you with the high quality nutrients, additives and growing media that will help you to get the most out of your growing plants.
But we understand that successful horticulture is about more than just having good quality chemicals, nutrients or fetilisers, that's why we have written this blog to provide you with the insights, tips and techniques you will need to give your garden that extra magic touch.
From helpful advice about watering your plants in soil and a guide to magnesium nutrients, to top tips about growing hydroponic vegetables and a comprehensive overview of microbes, we’ve got everything covered.
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