As gardeners we are all aware of the importance of nitrogen for leaves and potassium for flowers. But there is much more to this story in what the nutrient elements do, how they interact and what organic products provide them.
Typically to grow a plant most gardeners think of nitrogen (N), phosphorus
(P) and potassium (K). It is true that these are the most important, but by far are not the only nutrients essential for plant health and growth. Without these other lesser-recognised nutrients, few plants will flower, produce fruit or seed, or even be capable of resisting pests and diseases. A good gardener appreciates the need that all nutrient elements are provided to plants.
An important item to note is that all plants tend to take up nutrients when the elements are converted to their ionic forms
(a chemical state of structure). In reality, what this means is that even ‘organic fertilisers’
must be converted to ‘inorganic ions’ before the plants can absorb the nutrients.
Does this mean organic fertilisers are superfluous? No. What it means is that although plants take up the inorganic ‘ion’, the addition of the ‘organic’ source material is providing a secondary benefit to the soil - enhanced organic matter and humus that greatly improves the physical and chemical nature of the soil such as soil pH, buffering capacity and soil structure whilst providing a slow-release fertiliser source. The use of ‘organic’ soil improvers aids the culture of earthworms and soil-borne beneficial micro-organisms.
The article includes a table that summarises nutrient elements identified as being important for plant growth.