I imagine many special recipes were pulled out and executed for this week’s festivities. My own Mom had quite a collection of recipes from back in the day when she loved to cook and bake. Much like chemistry is important when baking a cake, soil chemistry is important when optimizing your garden. Unlike time-tested recipes that consistently provide success, the garden needs a check-up now and then before repeating the same inputs year after year.
Performing a basic soil test is a great way to check in on your garden in the fall. Several clients have been submitting samples and getting results that will change their usual springtime fertilizer applications. Instead of blindly applying the same fertilizer formulation they use annually, these homeowners now have specific recommendations based on the soil conditions at their garden site. Now that is a recipe for success based on science!
It is not uncommon for a soil test result to indicate that phosphorus levels are excessively high. Phosphorus is one of the primary nutrients plants need, but in this case, you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Excessive use of inorganic fertilizers can cause the build-up of phosphorus. Still, even organic inputs like composts and manures can also have high phosphorus content. Phosphorus can become problematic as it enters surface waters, reduces water quality and encourages undesirable algae and weedy aquatic plant growth. It is very important to apply fertilizers responsibly and protect aquatic habitats.
Too much phosphorus impedes the uptake of other essential plant nutrients like iron and zinc. Without enough iron and zinc, plants will grow poorly or die. Gardeners may notice the new growth on iron-deficient plants is yellowing, or they may see leaves bleaching out due to zinc deficiency. To remedy a situation with excessive phosphorus, the soil report will recommend fertilizer applications that do not contain phosphorus. Because of the complicated nature of soil chemistry, it isn’t possible to correct the issue by adding iron or zinc to the soil. In some cases, it may warrant a foliar application of these nutrients.
The Piedmont Technical College Horticulture Program Poinsettia Sale is Dec. 2-3 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the greenhouse at 720 S. Emerald Road.
Please note all local extension offices will be closed on Dec. 5-7 for a statewide meeting.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-889-0541. The Greenwood County Extension office at 105 N. University St. is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call the office at 864-223-3264 for assistance via phone. Visit our Facebook page, facebook.com/GreenwoodCoExtension, for timely information.
Stephanie Turner is the Greenwood County horticulture agent for Clemson Cooperative Extension.