|The Role Of Nitrogen In The Garden|
|[caption id="attachment_1096" align="alignright" width="192"] Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria![/caption]Nitrogen is the most abundant gas. It makes up approximately 80% of the air we breath. Plants need Nitrogen to function, but cannot acquire the Nitrogen directly from the air. Plants count on a single form of life to make the link possible. That link is made possible by Nitrifying bacteria. Nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil cling to plant roots and absorb nitrogen from the air, and convert it into Nitrate which is a soluble form of Nitrogen that plants can use.|
|[caption id="attachment_1097" align="alignright" width="192"] A pile of organic matter becomes compost[/caption]We cannot rely on just the air to feed the plants however, we must also use organic matter. Organic matter is anything that was once living. When a once living organism begins to decay or decompose (a.k.a. - compost) it forms something called Ammonium. Ammonium is NH4 which is deadly to plants, but just when you think all is lost, here comes the Nitrifying bacteria to save the day! The nitrifying bacteria consume the ammonium and convert it into NO3- which is Dah da da DAAA..... Nitrate! Ammonium is also found in urine, which you guessed it, Nitrifying bacteria can ALSO turn into a great organic plant food for your garden to grow and thrive.|
|[caption id="attachment_1094" align="aligncenter" width="600"] This is the Nitrogen cycle. It shows the constant flow of Nitrogen![/caption]|
|But this does not explain WHAT nitrogen does for the garden. I will explain that part now. Nitrogen is one of the big 3 Macro-nutrients. It is responsible for growth, and is associated with green leaves, and stalky healthy plants. Nitrogen is used in the leaf to produce chlorophyll which is a form of energy that is created from absorbing sun rays. Nitrogen also helps to produce healthy seeds, and fruit. Without Nitrogen plants will look skinny, anemic, and begin to yellow. Many of the first symptoms of a nitrogen deficiency is yellowing of the lower leaves, and a stunted plant.|
4 great forms of nitrogen for the garden
1. Grass clippings - When composted, grass contains about 3% nitrogen by weight
2. Coffee grounds - Used fresh or composted, coffee grounds contain about 5% nitrogen by weight
3. Manure - Rabbit, cow, horse, goat, sheep, and chicken manure are VERY high in nitrogen and can be anywhere from 4% up to 9% nitrogen by weight.
4. Human urine - As gross as it may seem human urine is an extremely reliable form of nitrogen, and also contains other beneficial trace minerals that help plant growth. Urine can contain roughly about 5% nitrogen by weight. The urine should be diluted 5 parts water to 1 part urine to prevent burning.