Garden soil is a delicate mix of nutrients. Nitrogen is one nutrient that is essential to ensuring that your plants obtain a high level of nourishment. A nitrogen deficiency in your soil will either slow down the growing process or spoil it entirely.
For this reason, you will need to know how to add additional nitrogen to your soil in order to implement the right correction methods. You may have heard of ‘NPK’ or Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
These are the three key nutrients that are needed to promote healthy growth in your plant and they cannot grow or survive without these. Nitrogen is essential because plants need it to make proteins, amino acids and to form their own DNA.
This is why a nitrogen deficiency leads to the death of your plant as it is unable to make its own cells. Approximately 78% of our surrounding atmosphere consists of Nitrogen, however, plants are not able to utilize nitrogen in this form.
Therefore, they need to soak up the nitrogen in the soil because it is an easier way for your plant to convert it. In order to test the level of nitrogen in your soil, you will need to purchase a testing kit.
Homemade kits are not proficient. These are sold in the majority of garden centres. You can also hire a professional to measure the level of nitrogen.
It is imperative that you do test the levels prior to adding any more nitrogen, even if you suspect that there is a deficiency because adding more nitrogen to the soil that already contains a sufficient amount will cause further damage to your plants.
Some key identifiers of whether you have a nitrogen deficiency are as follows: your plant has an unusually slow growth, the leaves are small or shrivelled, the leaves are yellowing, the flowers are dying at a faster pace, the plant is producing small, low-quality fruit.
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Use this rapid nitrogen test kit to get accurate readings for nitrogen deficiencies in your soil!
How To Add Nitrogen To Soil- A Quick Guide
Once you are certain that you have a nitrogen deficiency in your soil, you can then start the process of adding additional nitrogen. Using organic methods will take a longer period of time, but will result in the nitrogen being spread more evenly. You can also use non-organic methods but this inherently increases the risk of burning and damaging your crops if you add too much, too fast.
Adding composted manure is one organic means of enhancing the level of nitrogen in your soil and thus, enhancing your plant’s growth. This is because animal waste is high in nitrogen. However, do not add raw animal waste to your plant bed as this will run the risk of burning them. The animal waste needs to be composted for around six months prior to being used.
Chicken manure is one of the hottest types of manure and so it will need to be composted for a long period of time prior to being used. Cow manure alongside goat and rabbit droppings tends to be a lot cooler than chicken manure and so it is less likely to burn your plants. However, you should always still compost your manure before adding it to your soil.
It is also important to note that It takes time for manure to decompose and be absorbed into the soil.
Therefore, if you are in urgent need of nitrogen, this may not be the best option. However, it is the method that lasts the longest.
Alternatively, you can use a green manure crop or ‘cover crop’. Some crops can be planted into beds in order to fix the nitrogen deficiency. The main difference between growing a cover crop and planting certain bean crops is that a cover crop is not planted to be used for food (harvested).
Similarly, some plants are considered to be ‘nitrogen-fixing plants’ as they emit nitrogen in your soil as they grow. Beans and legumes are the perfect ‘nitrogen-fixing plant’ and are the main crops that are used for this process.
Instead of engulfing all of the nitrogen from your soil, they fix the nutrients. This is one reason why crop rotation is a crucial part of maintaining healthy, balanced soil.
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You should avoid fertilizing areas where you have grown bean crops in previous years. This is because your soil will already be rich in nitrogen and you will run the risk of having excess nitrogen in your soil.
Coffee granules and fish emulsion are also great sources of nitrogen. It may take time for the coffee grounds to break down and release the nitrogen into the soil but they are renowned for improving drainage.
The benefit of using fish emulsion is that it contains a variety of micronutrients that enhance your plants’ health. These include Calcium, Sodium, Chlorine, Sulfur and Magnesium.
Most garden centres will sell fish emulsion and you should mix it with water. Then, spray it onto the leaves of your plants for the utmost effect or alternatively, pour it carefully onto your soil, spreading it evenly across the bed.
Use organic fish emulsion to make your plants strong and healthy!
The water from your fish tank can also be used as it is rich in nitrogen and is a cheaper alternative to fish emulsion. Your grass clippings are also a natural source of nitrogen as they emit it back Into the soil upon decomposition.
If you are pushed for time or lacking in natural resources, then any actual plant fertilizer will work miracles with your plant growth. However, exercise caution to ensure that you do not overwhelm your plants with excess oxygen.
To conclude, choosing these methods will ensure that your soil maintains a healthy level of nitrogen. Gardening is a delicate process and you should always be cautious of overwhelming the soil with too much of any particular nutrient.
To avoid this, use these methods individually to discover which works best. Always follow the instructions and pay close attention to the recommended dosage listed on any packaging. Utilize patience, focus and nurturance and your soil will be enriched with nitrogen in no time at all.