Fertilizing in the Florida Keys

Fertilizers are chemicals that are applied to a plant to provide it with nutrients needed for photosynthesizing its own food.

Plants that grow in our soil do well until such time as one of the same elements it needs for food production becomes deficient in the soil or environment surrounding it. No matter how much of the other elements you give that plant, it will begin to have problems until the missing element is finally provided.

The severe problem we have in the Keys is with our high soil pH and lack of organic matter. This condition reduces the availability of these elements to plants. Soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of soil water.

On our type of lime rock fill soils, with high pH, minor elements will become insoluble in water. This is of concern since unless something is dissolved in water, it cannot be absorbed by plant roots, even though it may be present in the soil in high levels. With the addition of organic matter such as composted plant materials, mulch or leaf litter, the soil pH can be lowered. Over time, the area with added organic matter can be fertilized with minor elements. The elements will stay soluble and plants will produce healthy vigorous growth and happiness for you.

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