The Big Three
The three primary macronutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
N is Nitrogen – Leafy growth uses nitrogen. Nitrogen greens up grass and makes soft sappy growth. Leaf plants especially benefit from Nitrogen. These include lettuce, spinach, and other greens.
P is for Phosphate – To stimulate root growth, use a phosphate fertilizer. A phosphate fertilier particularly helps potatoes, carrots and other root crops. Phosphorus is ususally in good supply in organically enriched soils.
K is for Potash – To stimulate the growth of fruits and flowers, use potash. Potash also hardens up growth for protection against disease and winter cold.
Most vegetables use these three major nutrients in a ratio of roughly 3-2-1. This ratio is more “balanced” in meeting plants’ needs than one that is 1-1-1.
the three secondary macro nutrients are calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg).
the micro nutrients (trace minerals) are boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) and selenium (Se).
One of the best ways to ensure a wide variety of nutrients into your soil is to use compost in your garden. Not only will compost contain a wide variety of macro and micro nutrients, it helps soil structure and porosity, improves aeration, and includes beneficial microorganisms.