soil rebuilding-minerals

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Mar 21 08:48:51 EST 1997

At 2:40 PM -0000 3/21/97, dave wrote:
>What is the best way to rebuild the soil that has been depleated of
>minerals and nutreients for vegtables to have the proper food value when
>they are grown?

The soil minerals can be obtained and replenished
in a number of ways.  The necessary minerals are
C H O P K N S Ca Fe Mg (the macronutrients) and
Cu Zn Co Mn B Al Mo Cl etc. (the micronutrients).
C H and O come from atmosphere and water so are
not much of a problem.  Most soils have enough
S and Fe (if pH is controlled properly to about
6.5).  In acidic soils, Ca and Mg could be a problem
so adding dolomitic limestone to the soil will help
restore them.  P K and N are often limiting to plant
growth because soil particles do not attract and
hold them well.  These three are usually added to
soil as "fertilizer" and the bag's analysis has
three numbers representing their content in percent
of total weight.  Thus a 5-10-15 fertilizer is
5% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphorus, and 15% Potassium.
To know what ratio of these three you need to get
in a fertilizer, you need to do (or have done) some
soil testing.  Your local county extension agent
can help with that.  The micronutrients are usually
in sufficient supply providing you do not live in
an area with extensive acid-rain.  If you find your
soil acidic (low pH), then you may need to supplement
your fertilizer with micronutrient fertilizer AFTER
you get the pH controlled to 6.5 or so.  There are
"organic" methods to improve soil, and compost can
help condition the soil, and if it includes lots of,
say, eggshells it can help restore calcium to your
garden after incorporation.


Ross Koning                 | koning at
Biology Department          |
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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