Fertilizers - The Importance Of Potassium

Potassium is an important nutrient used by plants to build strong, healthy stalks and resist crop disease. Potassium occurs naturally in soil but frequently needs to be replenished in the soil, as many agricultural crops use it in large amounts. For this reason potassium is considered a macro-nutrient and is the third number on fertilizer analysis. Using a crop fertilizer that replaces the potassium in the soil prevents soil deprivation and keeps crops growing well.

Fertilizer for Vegetables

In your home vegetable garden, potassium provides similar benefits and may even have increased value. This is because you probably plant your vegetables in the same locations every year, whereas large-scale farmers usually rotate crops. Thus, home gardens are often in greater need of vegetable fertilizers as the vegetables that grew in the previous years have likely removed most of the naturally occurring potassium from the soil.

The most common way to restore potassium to your garden is with a compound vegetable fertilizer, also known as N-P-K fertilizer. This balances potassium (K) with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to provide nutrition from one, comprehensive vegetable fertilizer.

TIP: Karen Thurber, our gardening expert, suggests: "Before adding fertilizer to your garden, have a soil test done by your local county or state extension service. This will provide you with a clear picture of your soil pH, soil type, and available N-P-K. It also includes recommendations for amendments that will benefit the soil."

Benefits of Potassium

The full benefit potassium provides as a vegetable fertilizer or as a crop fertilizer is still being researched. However, it is known that without potassium, crops do not have the strength to bear heavy winds, rains, or even their own fruits. When fertilizers are used that contain potassium, the crops are not only physically stronger, but they mature faster.

This makes potassium a vital nutrient for plants, whether grown on a large-scale operation like a farm, or a small-scale operation like your own back yard.