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  • Knowing about nutrients allows you to feed your plants better and benefit from them being on top form: admit that it is worth the trouble!

    Nitrogen, for adding greenness
    It is the main element that all plants need. Plants whose principal attraction is their leaves (this includes vegetables because we eat their leaves, hedges, plants with decorative leaves and lawns) need nitrogen more than any other type of nutrient. However, nitrogen must never be given in too large a quantity. It can burn a plantís roots if the fertilizer used is too concentrated and quick release. For a plant that needs little nitrogen an overdose of it can cause the plant to develop foliage at the expense of its flowers and fruits. So for flowering creepers, roses and vegetables-fruits like tomatoes and courgettes never use too much nitrogen. For other plants, it is best to give a little at a time to avoid the chance of scorching them. Nitrogen is found in nearly all fertilizers. Everything that derives from decomposed greenery like liquid nettle manure will contain it.

    Phosphorous, good for the woody parts
    Phosphorous is known for encouraging general vigour in a plant, especially for stem growth. It is normally found in the soil, if a plant is not growing then it is likely that it is not phosphorous that it is missing but one of the other nutrient elements (nitrogen or potash for example). Fruit trees are renowned for needing lots of phosphorous especially in the spring. However, it is no good to overdo it.

    Potash for the soft parts
    This nutrient is useful for lots of plants, especially those that have impressive displays of flowers or give fruits. Vegetables (including strawberries and rhubarb), perennial flowers (peonies etc) and flowering shrubs (roses for example) all need large amounts. On poor soils, it is worth adding it to plants over the course of the growing season, for example giving it to tomatoes when they are fruiting. Potash is found in wood ash (unless it has got wet in the rain) also in many of the chemical or organic fertilizers.

    Do not forget the trace elements
    These include all the other elements that are nutrients, from calcium (although too much of it can be harmful in chalky soil) through to boron. Trace elements are not generally lacking in the soil, but if you only use simple fertilizers (that contain nitrogen, phosphorous and potash), you run the risk of having a shortage of these trace elements although they are only needed in small doses. Plants will stop growing not because they lack nitrogen or potash but because they do not have such and such an element. It is very difficult to guess which is missing and you may need to resort to a laboratory analysis. The only solution is to use a fertilizer that contains trace element or a good organic fertilizer. They have the peculiarity of containing chemical impurities, which are in fact trace elements !
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  • Nutrients
    Nitrogen, for adding greenness
    Author: Jean-Michel Groult

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