When I wondered what plants eat, it turns out that they are able to eat everything they can get out of the soil, air and water. What kind of “food” is it? Here are the main components: water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, copper, molybdenum, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, sulfur, etc. Almost the whole periodic table is the “food” for our green friends. All this is called inorganic fertilizers (excluding water and carbon, of course).
Fertilizers can be simple and complex. Ordinary fertilizers contain a single element (e.g., nitrogen or phosphorus), when complex are composed of two or more components.
Wisdom of Mother Nature is that each plant independently synthesizes the necessary organic from inorganic elements. But not always our green friends had enough natural inorganic minerals. Sometimes soil (e.g., clay) is poor of manganese and iron, or there is not enough copper and zinc, and sometimes (e.g., sandstone) are poor in nitrogen and potassium. Therefore, we use a variety of chemical fertilizers for fertilizing out garden plants.
Consider their most popular forms (dosage is not specified, as it is printed directly on the packaging of fertilizers).
The main component of the group of nitrogen fertilizers is, as the name implies it – nitrogen. Nitrogen fertilizer promotes ground parts of the plant and is available in 4 forms:
- Nitrate form (sodium and calcium nitrate) in which nitrogen is contained in the acid form, readily soluble in water. Nitrate should be put into the soil in the fall or early spring and in small doses is used in the dressing, as its overdose contributes to the accumulation of harmful to human health nitrates in fruit.
- Ammonium form (ammonium sulfate), where there are free ammonium ions. Ammonium sulfate has to be put into the ground in the fall, as it is rather poorly soluble in the soil.
- Amide form (urea) is the most concentrated nitrogen fertilizer, which is converted in the soil as ammonium carbonate, required to obtain an abundant harvest.
- Ammonium nitrate form of nitrogen fertilizer (ammonium nitrate) is physiologically acidic fertilizer, one part of which is readily soluble in water and moves freely in the soil, and the other has a sustained action. Ammonium nitrate is used to feed potatoes, beet, cereals and is especially effective in combination with phosphorus and potassium.
Nitrogen fertilizers are produced in several stages, strictly observing the instructions on the package, with the common principle to follow “not to much.”
Frankly speaking, I use fertilizers very carefully. They can do well and harm. Well, it is like drugs: yes, they can help, if they are taken as prescribed in the manual, but even in this case, can give side effects. And if you violate the instructions or take it as you like, then serious problems are just about to happen. With the chemical fertilizers, in my opinion, it is about the same. And as it is quite difficult for me to strictly adhere to the instructions when I care of the garden, I avoid to use chemical fertilizers.