Phosphorus is very important in the early stages of vegetable plant development. Plants need this element in order to sustain good root development. If phosphorus is in short supply in your soil, your vegetable plant’s growth will slow very quickly or even worse, not grow at all.
A common appearance of lack of phosphorous in your soil is streaks of purple up and down stems or on the leaves and low yield of fruits and vegetables.
Phosphorus makes up one of the five elements needed in plant DNA for the process of photosynthesis, with the other four being carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. All of the pieces to this puzzle must be in place, otherwise during seed development the plant’s DNA will not form properly.
Phosphorus is a slow moving element in the soil. It also one of those elements where having a bit too much of it in the soil is not necessarily a bad thing. With its ability to stimulate early growth and root formation, having an ample supply of it in your soil will help speed up maturity, promote flowering and increase seed production.
To gain a reading of how much phosphorus is in your soil, take a trip down to your local home or garden center and pick up a test kit for less than ten bucks. These kits will give you an accurate reading of how much phosphorus your soil contains and where the level should be for your area of the world.
Once you get your reading and realize that you need to add phosphorus to your soil you have plenty of choices. The most common and probably the easiest and organic (if that is what you are looking for) is to add compost to your soil. I like to bury all of my food scraps eighteen inches throughout the year in my garden. When this organic material breaks down it turns into quality compost that keeps my soil rich in nutrients such as phosphorus.
Other good sources for phosphorus include bone meal and rock phosphate both available at garden centers where fertilizers are sold. Bone meal is a mixture of crushed bones that gives off a slow release of phosphorus. Rock phosphate works best when it is finely ground and creates an extremely slow release of phosphorus in the soil. Either of these sources will work well when you need to add straight phosphorus to your soil. Just make sure you mix them in thoroughly for even distribution, wait a week or two and take another reading to see if you need to add more.
Avoid slow or stunted growth, ugly coloration of your plants, delayed maturity or poor fruit or vegetable production by making sure you add the correct amount of phosphorus to your soil. Your garden plants will love you for it.
About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and where ever gardening books are sold. For more vegetable gardening advice, Mike can be reached at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com.