Thursday, 10 February 2011

Diagnosing nutritional deficiencies in plants

by Amy of My Suburban Homestead 

I'm taking the master gardener course through Oregon State University and I wrote a series of posts a short while ago about diagnosing nutritional deficiencies in plants. Here is the first of these series for you to check out, with links to the remainder of this series at the bottom.

I've just started getting into the subject of diagnosing fertilizer or nutrient problems in plants in the master gardener course that I am taking. The subject is very complicated and not easy to figure out.
In addition, if you are lacking in one fertilizer, it is likely that you are lacking in other fertilizers, so many of these diagnoses might not be exclusive.
The very first thing you should do is ask yourself the following questions if you think you have a nutritional deficiency in your soil.
Is your pH optimal? For a vegetable garden, the optimal pH range is 6.2-6.8 for most vegetables. If your pH is outside of this range, many plant nutrients will  not be available to plants. In this case, you should focus your effort on altering your pH.
Is your soil wet and compacted? If so, the roots cannot grow enough to reach the nutrients that they need.
Is it late in the season? If so, the nutrients are likely transferring to the roots in preparation for dormancy. In this case, yellowing is normal.
Want to see what else I've written about while taking the master gardener course? Click here.