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Organic Growing: Understanding the Basics

Updated: Dec 17, 2019



To understand Organic Growing, we must first understand The Basics of Fertilizer/Nutrients and also have a firm grasp of Synthetic Growing as well. What is to follow will be a series of short articles about the many components that can and should be incorporated into an organic “farm”. However, as I said, we must first have a firm footing on what fertilizer is.

Fertilizer, by definition, is a chemical or natural substance applied to soil (grow medium) or plant tissue to supply nutrients for healthy plant growth which provides mineral elements to the plants that are not adequately supplied in the grow medium. There are seventeen (17) ESSENTIAL nutrients required for proper basic plant growth and development. Ninety percent (90%) of plant dry matter is composed of Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), and Oxygen (O). These elements are taken by the plant primarily from water (H2O), air (O2), and carbon dioxide (CO2).


The fourteen (14) remaining nutrients that are required for a truly complete fertilizer are all mineral elements divided into Primary (1°), Secondary (2°) and micro or Micronutrients. The Primary (1°) Macronutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K). The Secondary (2°) Macronutrients are Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Sulfur (S). Micronutrients consist of Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Molybdenum (Mo), Chlorine (Cl), and Nickel (Ni). ALL of the previously elemental nutrients are required for complete plant growth and development, of course, in differing amounts at different phases of plant development. Any deficiency in any of these essential nutrients and the plant will be unable to complete their life cycle.


With all of the above information under our collective belts, we are ready to dive into the next section where we will discuss what each compound specifically does for the plant and it grows and develops.