New growers mistakenly get it into their heads that the elements N-P-K in fertilizers are the most important and in that order. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are the most abundant elements in fertilizers and plants do need more of these three macro-nutrients than any other except for Calcium. In fact Calcium is critical for developing a strong vascular system in plants so creating an environment where you can maximize the Calcium uptake will also increase your plants utilization of all the other elemental nutrients and Magnesium is the central atom in chlorophyll and is what makes plants green. Keeping this in mind perhaps a better way to think about nutrients would be Ca-K-Mg-N-P.
If you are trying to diagnose a deficiency issue check out these charts:
The Mulder Chart shows how nutrients interact with each other in the garden. Too much of some elements cause problems with the uptake of other elements and conversely sometimes more of one increases the availability of others.
The Nutrient Deficiency Chart can help you pinpoint which nutrient is causing your issue.
The pH Chart shows you where your nutrients pH should be for maximum availability.
Calcium is King – Calcium easily gets locked up in the soil by both Phosphates and Sulfates. This is why many fertilizers do not include it in combination with the other macro and micro nutrients. Plants use more Calcium than Phosphorus and nearly the same amount as Nitrogen so it is important to make sure it is highly available for uptake through the transpiration stream of the plant.
- In Soil and Peat based mediums use Calcitic Lime to both buffer the soils pH and provide a form a Calcium that is immediately available to the plant.
- Use a CalMag product to supplement your primary fertilizer.
- Plants will uptake Calcium 1000 times faster than by simple osmosis if you use an Amino Acid supplement like OminA! The Amino Acids Glycine and Glutamic Acid stimulate root cells to open up more Calcium ion channels and chelate the Calcium to prevent it from locking up.
- High humidity levels will lead to a Calcium deficiency because it interferes with the plants uptake from the soil so keep humidity levels between 40-60%.
- Keep plant leaves gently moving with air current to maximize transpiration.
- During Vegetative growth a 1.5 to 1 K to N ratio is best. During Flowering a 2 to 1 K to N ratio is ideal.
- Give plants a Potassium boost in mid-flowering. A good product to use is Down To Earth's Langbeinite 0-0-22. This product is a sulfate of Potash-Magnesia and contains 22% Potassium, 10.8% Magnesium, and 22% Sulfur.
- A Potassium deficiency will show up as stalled growth, this is known as the Hidden Hunger.
- Sulfur is responsible for aroma and flavor in flowers and fruits.
- Too much Potassium shows up as a Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is the central atom in chlorophyll.
- Use a mild Phosphorus fertilizer on seedlings that have the true first set of leaves (2nd node) and on newly rooted clones (usually around day 14) to help promote root growth.
- Use extra Phosphorus in the first 3 weeks of growth.
- Too much Phosphorus will lock out Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium in that order.
- Phosphorus like Calcium locks up easily in the soil. It locks up with Calcium and Iron. Mycorrhizae helps to unlock Phosphorus.
- In the beginning of flowering plants want more Phosphorus. In middle to late flowering plants want more Potassium.
- Make sure to feed these beneficial organisms by mixing 1-2 tablespoons of Molasses per gallon of water and apply about every 10 days.
- Root Magic is a supplemental product that includes Mycorrhizae and beneficial Bacillus bacteria and is one of our favorite Mycorrhizae products for use in the garden. How could you not like a product that has a wizard on the label?
- Kelp is often found as the core ingredient in both Vegetative and Bloom stimulants.
- Use a kelp foliar spray 2 weeks before taking cuttings for clones and only use once per week, be careful because too much will burn plants.