Even some seasoned gardeners aren’t aware of what nutrients plants require. There was a time when just slamming a tomato seedling into the ground was all we needed to know. Perhaps we threw in a little fertilizer and maybe some bone meal, and everything was good to go. We know now that plants, like ourselves, need specific elements to produce healthy and nutritious vegetables.
Major Macronutrients Plants Require
Macronutrients are the essential nutrients plants require to prosper. The major ones include Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). On the package, three numbers show prominently. These numbers indicate the percentages of each macronutrient in the package (and federal law requires their listing). The first number indicates the percentage of Nitrogen in the package, the second notes the percentage of Phosphorus, and the third, the percentage of Potassium. Vegetables Also need Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Sulfur (S).
Plants Need Micronutrients Too
Micronutrients, also described as “trace” elements, include Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn). Boron (B), and Molybdenum (Mo). Some fertilizers companies also have these trace elements and indicate them on the package. Some do not include them. It pays to read the small print. However, these are also some of the nutrients that plants require.
Roles Nutrients Play
All these elements have various roles to play in developing healthy plants, from enabling plant proteins, hormones, and chlorophyll, transferring energy, stimulating root growth, helping move starch, and a dizzying array of other necessary functions for plants to be healthy and fruitful.
More on nutrients in future posts…
In future articles I’ll report the purpose of each macro- and micronutrients and how to apply them to your delicious vegetables.