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Roger Weller, geology instructor
by Laryssa Dickey
GREEN THUMB SOILS
Around the world, people love to garden. It is great way to relax, save some money, and even eat healthier. People often don’t realize the importance of a good quality soil. Healthy soil is what can make the ultimate difference in success and failure of a garden.
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Thirteen Minerals Nutrients That Make All the Difference
There are thirteen different mineral nutrients that plants absorb with the roots
from the soil around them. These minerals are then split into two types:
Macronutrients and Micronutrients.
Macronutrients can be even further separated into Primary and Secondary nutrients. Primary nutrients are nutrients that play a major part in the growth of plants. Soils usually tend to lack these nutrients. Secondary nutrients tend to be in plentiful supply in the soil, and do not need to be added. (These are also key minerals needed for plant growth.)
Primary Nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K)
Secondary Nutrients: Calcium ( Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S)
Micronutrients are minerals that are necessary for plant growth, but not in as large of quantities.
Micronutrients: Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Chloride (Cl), Manganese (Mn),
Molybdenum (Mo), Zinc (Zn)
A good way to provide a lot of these minerals is by creating a compost pile and using the composted materials as a fertilizer. Many people even like to add various kinds of animal manure. Another helpful “fertilizer” is a pre-planting routine of adding coffee grounds, sugar, and ground eggshells to soil.
Why does the texture of soil matter? Soil is usually a varying ratio containing clay, silt, sand, and organic material. The textures of soil is what determines how easily water, as well as minerals, drain out. The best kinds of soil have as close to an equal amount of all these elements as possible.
KNOWING YOUR PLANTS
Knowing what you plant plays a key factor in how you grow it. Certain plants need a higher amount of certain nutrients than others, some need different pH levels, and some need varying amount of water. You also need to consider the area in which you live. Look at the soil around you. Is it capable of sustaining the plants you wish to grow? If not, a simple solution is to plant in a raised garden bed or pots.
Aquaponics is a way that allows plants to grow without soil. The concept is to have a grow tank (or tanks) that are connected with a fish tank (or tanks) in a continuous cycle to have a mini ecosystem. The grow tanks typically have lava rock, or any other type of rock that is extremely porous, to act as a filter and a place for the plants to take root. The tank of fish provides most of the minerals that a plant needs to grow. What isn’t provided by the fish can simply be added to the tank without hurting the fish.
There are so many ways to make a garden. You just have to be aware of the science behind it. Plants need certain minerals to grow, water, and sunlight. Also remember to pay close attention to the needs of the specific plant you wish to grow.