Skip to main content

What do plants want? (NPK)

So what do plants really want?  What components are the lifeblood of a healthy plant lifestyle and encourage them to produce strong abundant produce?

There are 3 major macro-nutrients that are required for healthy plants:  Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium..

  • Nitrogen (N) relates to plant nutrition and is responsible for green leaves and leaf growth.
  • Phosphorous (P) produces plant genetics and seed development, therefore growing plants need phosphorous.
  • Potassium (K) will strengthen the plant and forms the needed carbohydrates, proteins and will improve the colour and flavour of fruit. These are known as NPK’s (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium).

You probably have noticed that on bags of inorganic fertilizer, there are 3 numbers for eg. 10-5-10, this means it contains 10% nitrogen, 5% phosphorous and 10% potassium.

Inorganic fertilizers are a substance that was not once a part of a living organism (eg. chemical or mineral).  Inorganic fertilizers are manufactured and are usually sold with these three letters on the bag representing NPK’s.

Organic fertilizers are any substance that is or once a part of a living organism.  These fertilizers are soil nutrient compounds and are naturally occurring such as aged manure, worm castings and seaweed as an example.  Types of organic fertilizers are plant based which includes alfalfa, soybean meal, kelp meal and liquid seaweed.

Some animal based organic fertilizers would be blood meal, bone meal, aged manure and fish emulsion which meets all nutritional requirements.

On our farm we have done field trial studies using a fish emulsion recipe that we created using raw fish parts, molasses, epsom salts and dried leaves, we found it to be a very successful supplement for our brassica family varieties because they crave nitrogen in their diet.

Burying this emulsion 5” from the plant row and 12” deep seem to compliment the symbiotic relationship that this organic fertilizer delivers between the plant and the soil organisms.

– Paul Smith