Sunday, November 04, 2007

Plants 101: Nutrition

"Mmmmm, nitrogen.... tasty...." says the plant.

That's what I learned today in my plant class: the 16 macro and micro-nutrients essential for plant growth. if you don't have these in your soil, then your plants can't develop properly. The Cerberus of the macronutrients are:
  • nitrogen
  • phosphorous
  • potassium
These 16 nutrients are needed for the plant's lifecycle, no other element can replace them, and without them, they will die. How's that for dire? When they said, "It's a jungle out there," they weren't kidding.

We talked about a lot in class today. Here are the highlights:

Transpiration: that's the process of the plant absorbing H2O from the soil through the roots, taking it up through shoot, and then releasing it through the leaves (evaporating into the air through the stomata).

Soil: Soil is made up of sand, silt, and clay. It can be either Acidic or Alkaline. Perfect soil is called loam -- we don't like people who have this soil. In our area (Chicago), we're blessed with alkaline soil with tons of clay. Too much clay causes the soil to get compacted, this inhibits roots from growing and from water to soak into the soil. If you get water run-off, this is probably the cause. What to do? Add organic matter (compost) to the soil to balance it out. You'll have to do this all the time so start composting!

We got to look at our soil under the microscope and I found a lot of creepy crawlies hanging out; my teacher said it was excellent.

So that's you lesson for the day: without healthy soil you can't have healthy plant. So mulch those leaves and compost them or throw them into your beds, your plants will thank you for it.

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