Category Archives: Growing

Growing food I need to create exciting nutritious meals.

Chlorine is not just for the pool

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series 13 Key Nutrients For Plants

Chlorine is present in our environment today often at levels considered a contaminant. However, it is essential for plant to open and close its stomates, or pores, and for electrical activity within cells. It is quite important to setting fruit and overall plant growth.

Deficiency can be suspected if you see yellow leaves that subsequently die and fall off, accompnied by a complete lack of fruit set and overall stunted growth. It is supplied naturally by the atmosphere, which moves it from the oceans to water around the world as rain and snow. Because the concentration of chlorine in the rain and snow is variable there is a remote possibility to have a deficient soil.

To correct a deficiency
  • add Bromine to the soil, which can support plant use of Chlorine

Chlorine can build up in the soil like any salt. Too much can show as burned leaf margins and tips, bronzed leaves that turn yellow and fall off.

To offset an excess
  • by leaching with salt free water
  • increasing the sand content of soil to facilitate the movement of water
  • planting plants that use high amounts of chlorine, such as tomatoes

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Nitrogen and why you should care about it

This entry is part 2 of 12 in the series 13 Key Nutrients For Plants

Nitrogen is most important in plants for vegetative growth and chlorophyll production, which of course is what makes plants green.

 

If the older leaves are thin, small and pale, and the plant develops very woody stems then the plant may require nitrogen. Left uncorrected, the problem spreads to the fruit which becomes spiny, deformed and short.

    To correct a nitrogen deficiency

  • add composted manure
  • plant with peas and beans to fix nitrogen into the soil from the atmosphere

 

Small yellowish spots on the leaves that get bigger until only the leaf veins are left green may indicate too much nitrogen present. In this case you will see initially see thick strong stems with rich green curled leaves that grow closely spaced on them, along with many side shoots and tendrils.

    Too much nitrogen can be corrected by

  • heavy irrigation
  • keeping the plants cool in order to reduce transpiration
  • plant heavy feeding plants like lettuce

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Zinc is important

This entry is part 8 of 12 in the series 13 Key Nutrients For Plants

Zinc is present in several plant enzymes and is required in photosynthesis.

Zinc deficiency can arise when the soil pH is too high and adversely affects zinc uptake. High phosphorous or calcium levels can impact uptake as well as copper, magnesium, manganese and iron. Deficiency symptoms begin on the lowest leaves and are subtle. There will be slightly paler areas between the veins that become worse over time while veins remain green, the space between where leaves come out of the stem is shortened up and leaves become small.

To correct a deficiency
  • Spraying with zinc sulphates can correct a zinc deficiency

Too much zinc can happen from multiple causes including proximity to mines or smelters, runoff water from galvanized building frames and contamination of water from galvanized pipes. Plants in soil with too much of this nutrient will have a very deep dark green vein colour that will eventually become blackened. Young leaves will develop yellow-green colour between the veins, which later turn completely yellow. Growth is stunted then stops, and yellow leaves develop dead patches and fall off. Too much of this nutrient is difficult to correct.

To offset an excess
  • adding lime
  • adding phosphorous

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

 

Boron sounds boring, but your plants will love it

This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series 13 Key Nutrients For Plants

Boron is required by plants for cell division and formation of the plant’s growing points, also called grower’s tips. It is best if it is continuously supplied.

Deficiency of boron can be seen in the oldest leaves on the lower half of the plant becoming brittle and yellowed, and the grower’s tips dying back. Older leaves will be cupped upwards and stiff. Young leaves will be malformed and have prominent veins. Fruits are shortened and have cracks in their skins. Roots will have enlarged tips and will be black. Symptoms will appear around the first harvest.

To correct a deficiency of Boron
  • raise the ratio of organic matter to sand
  • lower the soil pH by adding Sulfur
  • add borax to the soil

Too much boron will show up in the oldest leaves with them cupping downwards and turning yellow and eventually expanding into dead spots between veins. The leaves can also become more circular shaped. If this condition is not corrected then the plant’s growth will be stunted with very few female flowers developing.

To offset excessive Boron
  • Heavy leaching can be used to remove some boron
  • add lime if the soil is acidic

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Copper pennies may be gone in Canada

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series 13 Key Nutrients For Plants

Copper is necessary for photosynthesis and respiration.

Plants that are deficient in this nutrient will have yellow faded blotches that later turn a bronze or dull colour between veins on the oldest leaves, and later on the whole plant. The leaves will be small and the plant will be dwarfed. Flowers and buds decrease and fruits are poorly developed and are marred by sunken brown areas on their skin. Deficiency is mainly seen if there is too much peat in the soil, due to high pH reducing availability.

To correct a deficiency
  • Copper sulfate can be added to correct a deficiency but extreme care should be taken as too much copper can make the soil unfit for vegetable cultivation

Toxicity can result from using sprays of some fungicides, or even from plumbing used in the growing system.

To offset excessive Copper
  • Heavy liming can help remove some copper toxicity

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Manganese sounds exotic, doesn’t it?

This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series 13 Key Nutrients For Plants

Manganese is required in very small quantities, found in enzymes used in photosynthesis and in the production of a plant hormone called auxin. Plants use this nutrient to remove hydrogen peroxide from within cells.

Iron toxicity can indicate manganese deficiency, which will show on new growth with the leaf margins becoming paler to yellow with the veins remaining green, with dead or dying lesions spotted across them. Distinctive sunken white areas start to appear.

To correct a deficiency
  • ensuring there is not an excess of iron

Toxicity will show up on the older leaves first, which will have pale green/yellow areas between the veins which turn red-brown. Purple spots can be seen on the petioles, stems and the leaf underside veins. Excessive manganese can cause iron deficiency.

To offset excessive Manganese
  • foliar sprays of manganese sulfate
  • ensure pH levels are not too high

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

 

Iron makes plants strong

Iron is required for photosynthesis, but in minute quantities, and helps move energy within the plant through respiration and metabolism. It can be found within enzymes and proteins and is used for nitrogen fixation. It is especially important to celery, cabbage, beets, alfalfa, beans, asparagus, cauliflower, soy, barley, sorghum, spinach, tomatoes and strawberries, rye grass, oats and Brussels sprouts.

Iron deficiency will show up on the leaves, which will develop yellow-green colour between the veins, which later turn completely yellow. Growth is stunted then stops, and yellow leaves develop dead patches and fall off. Deficiency in the soil is often a result of not enough gases in the soil and too much water that sits around the roots, and/or high concentration of colloidal particles, or compacted soil. Iron deficiency can also be caused by too much manganese, as well as poor root growth. Phosphorous deficiency could cause the root growth problem, in turn causing the iron deficiency.

To correct a deficiency
  • cultivating the soil to aerate it
  • digging in organic matter like compost or renewable peat moss to provide soil structure to enhance air spaces, moisture absorption and retention capability

Note: to allay any oncerns around using peat moss, check out this link

Too much iron in the soil can cause manganese deficiency. Toxicity is often connected to low pH or a zinc deficiency or high levels of molybdenum.

To offset an excess of iron
  • increasing potassium which will increase zinc content
  • raise pH by applying dolomitic limestone, which will also add magnesium and calcium

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Sulfur

This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series 13 Key Nutrients For Plants

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Sulfur falls onto Ontario, Canada farms in the form of acid (sulfur dioxide) rain, depositing 8-13kg per hectare each year, so soil deficiency is not common here. Sulfur can be used as a soil amendment to correct high pH of above 7.0, and can help reduce higher levels of lime and sodium. Lime gets converted into gypsum which has the benefit of providing calcium. Sodium is freed so that leaching can remove it from the soil. Sulfur helps improve soil quality by building tilth, and also by reducing the tendency to crust by removing sodium. Sulfur also makes other nutrients like phosphorous more available.

Deficiencies in Sulfur will show as yellowing leaves, beginning with the younger leaves.

To correct a deficiency of Sulfur
  • organic matter releases sulfur as it decomposes, and minerals in the soil can also slowly release it so add compost, worm casings and greensand and rock dust to prevent or treat a deficiency
  • elemental Sulfur can be applied to provide a fast acting source

If too much sulfur is present it will negatively impact the plant’s ability to take in molybdenum. That can result in leaves that show curled mottled edges.

To offset excessive Sulfur
  • Corn, alfalfa, wheat, legumes and oil seeds remove large amounts of sulfur.
  • Add sand to the soil to increase leaching and help reduce accumulation of sulfur

Magnesium

 

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

Magnesium is vital to the process of photosynthesis and is found in the enzymes of the chlorophyll molecules, giving plants their green colour. Plants require Magnesium to stabilize cell membranes as well as to metabolize carbohydrates. Magnesium is used to move phosphates within the plant. Plants deficient in Magnesium will display yellow mottling and brown spots on the lower leaves, that begins between the veins. The soil is usually not deficient and just the plant is. High Calcium or Potassium levels and low pH can interfere with a plant’s ability to absorb Magnesium.

To correct a deficiency of magnesium
  • use organic compost, both to supply Magnesium and also to enrich the soil and enhance its moisture retaining capability
  • for a fast fix mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts with one litre of water and spray it on the foliage, on a cloudy day to avoid burning the leaves

Plants that have Magnesium toxicity are rare and this would generally be caused by human application of high-Magnesium chemical fertilizers. Leaf margins appear scorched with a coppery colour, and the leaves are dark green; once the leaves are falling off it is probably too late to fix it. Soils high in Magnesium lose structure and become sticky when wet with a tendency to harden into a hard to till crust with greatly reduced air spaces once dried.

To offset excessive magnesium
  • increasing Calcium with crushed sea shells to bind some Magnesium
  • plant the soil in rotations containing grasses like rye
  • add composted manure

Calcium

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series 13 Key Nutrients For Plants

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Calcium is used by the plant to build the structure of cell membranes, supporting the development of cell wall rigidity. Calcium helps water penetrate the soil which helps reduce salinity and better maintain a chemical balance. Calcium is also important to neutralize acids within the cells and remove carbohydrates if unused.

Deficiencies in Calcium will appear first at the top of the plant, with the youngest leaves developing transparent white spots between the veins and along the edges of the leaves. The leaves will turn yellow between the veins, which remain green. Roots will be short and thick and have few root hairs but will be highly branched. Flowers will just fall off, and fruits fail to develop properly and lack sweetness or good taste.

To correct a deficiency of Calcium
  • to facilitate the plant absorbing Calcium make sure the pH is not too acidic
  • keep peat and manure levels low enough that they do not increase acidity
  • Add fish bone meal to add direct Calcium
    NOTE: this will add phosphorous as well

Too much Calcium in the soil can make it harder for plants to take up other nutrients, including Magnesium, Boron, Iron, Phosporous, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Iron which can result in or worsen deficiencies in those nutrients.

To offset excessive Calcium
  • bring the other nutrients, in particualr Magnesium, into balance by adding them