Introduction to Nitrogen in Your Garden

You may have noticed the letter NPK on bags of fertilizer - http://amzn.to/16woG5L or other organic matter in the past.  These letters stand for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (in that order) and these are essential nutrients for your garden and its plants.

Of these three nutrients, nitrogen is often the one that is most difficult to get to the right level.  It can be very transient but is critical for plant growth.  
Signs of low levels of nitrogen include:
 – yellow or pale green leaves
– slow plant growth, despite other good conditions
Some plants use more nitrogen than others.  These include:
– corn
– lettuce
– tomatoes
– squash
– cucumbers 
– cabbage 
To replenish the nitrogen in your soil, you may have to do more than just add compost, especially if you often grow many of the crops listed above.  
Here are few ideas for boosting your nitrogen levels:
– Cover crops of alfalfa, clover or peas can help boost the nitrogen levels in your soil.  These crops will be turned into the soil after you are finished with them (as opposed to being pulled up and composted, as you may do with other crops).  
– Composted manure, especially poultry manure 
– Blood Meal - http://amzn.to/14bHZzm  
– Fish emulsion  - http://amzn.to/15aJ6hE
– Chilean nitrate – a soluble mineral salt mined in Chile
I’m planning to plant a cover crop this fall in the front yard to help build up the soil.  I’m thinking of planting fava beans - http://amzn.to/19HnVKW , as they grow very well here and my mom claims that that they are delicious.  What do you do to increase the nitrogen in your soil where you are?
I got a lot of the information from this article from the wonderful magazine  Organic Gardening - http://amzn.to/1bLeBST  and a recent article written by Beth Hanson in Vol 60:2 titled Nitrogen: The Elusive Nutrient.  I highly recommend this magazine if you don’t already subscribe.  

Shared on:

Mountain Woman Rendezvous - http://www.mountainwomanjournals.com/?p=908
From the Farm Blog Hop - http://thismindbeinyou.com/2013/06/from-the-farm-blog-hop-38.html
Homeacre Hop - http://summersacres.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-homeacre-hop-24.html
The Backyard Farming Connection - http://www.backyardfarmingconnection.com/2013/06/the-backyard-farming-connection-37.html
Frugally Sustainable - http://frugallysustainable.com/2013/06/frugal-days-sustainable-ways-77/
Homestead Barn Hop - http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2013/06/homestead-barn-hop-116.html


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Comments

  1. Great post – I always find all the subtleties of soil difficult. Nitrogen is so important – especially if you can boost if naturally.

  2. We planted some cover crops this past season. We used Fava beans but I think we’re going to have to try something different as even those didn’t do so hot. Thanks for sharing this at our hop! We’d love to have you back again this morning!

  3. I companion plant for nitrogen through the garden season. I plant corn and then a row of bush beans close to the corn on either side. Beans put nitogen back into the soil…I never have to fertilize. I also plant dry beans in areas that were heavy feeding the year before to re establish the soil.

  4. Vetch is another good cover crop, hairy vetch is what I have used before and it ranks very high as a nitrogen fixer.

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