A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Often overlooked, sulfur (S) can be that weak link in many soil fertility and plant nutrition programs. As of late, there are several reasons for the increased observance of S deficiencies and increased S needs.
Government regulations now restrict the amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) that can be returned to the atmosphere from coal-burning furnaces. Most of the S is now removed from natural gas used in home heating and in industry. Also, catalytic converters in new automobiles remove most of the S that was previously returned to the atmosphere when S-containing gasoline was burned in automobiles. In addition, S-free compounds have replaced many of the insecticides and fungicides formerly applied to control insects and diseases in crops. As a result of these government restrictions, less S returns to the soil in rainfall.
Sulfur is supplied to plants from the soil by organic matter and minerals, but it’s often present in insufficient quantities and at inopportune times for the needs of many high-yielding crops. Organic matter ties up most S to the soil, where it remains unavailable to plants until soil bacteria convert it to sulfate (SO4-2) form. That process is known as mineralization.
Just like nitrate nitrogen (N), sulfate moves through the soil and can leach beyond the active root zone in some soils during heavy rainfall or irrigation. Sulfate may move back upward toward the soil surface as water evaporates, except in the sandier, coarse-textured soils that may be void of capillary pores. This mobility of sulfate S makes it difficult to calibrate soil tests and use them as predictive tools for S fertilization needs.
In the field, plants deficient in S show pale green coloring of the younger leaves, although the entire plant can be pale green and stunted in severe cases. Leaves tend to shrivel as the deficiency progresses.
Sulfur, like N, is a constituent of proteins, so deficiency symptoms are similar to those of N. Nitrogen-deficiency symptoms are more severe on older leaves, however, because N is a mobile plant nutrient and moves to new growth. Sulfur, on the other hand, is immobile in the plant, so new growth suffers first when S levels are not adequate to meet the plant’s need. This difference is important in distinguishing between N and S deficiencies, particularly in early stages.
Symptoms of deficiency can vary across crop species, but similarities exist for how nutrient insufficiency impacts plant tissue color and appearance. Nutrient deficiencies are commonly associated with the physical location on the plant
(i.e., whether the symptoms are primarily observed on older versus newly formed plant tissue), but these symptoms can spread as the severity of the deficiency progresses.
Sooner or later, every gardener discovers that for good results — whether in the vegetable garden, perennial border, or lawn — replenishing soil nutrients is necessary. And one of the key choices is whether to use organic or synthetic fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers are manufactured. Organic fertilizers are derived from plants and animals, and from naturally occurring mineral fertilizers.
One advantage of organic fertilizers is that their nutrients are doled out as a steady diet in sync with plant needs. Because the nutrients come from natural sources, a portion of them may be temporarily unavailable to plants until released by a combination of warmth and moisture — the same conditions plants need to grow. Released slowly, the nutrients from organic fertilizers are unlikely to burn plant roots or be leached away by water. And a single application may last a whole growing season.
You also might choose organic fertilizers for philosophical or environmental reasons. Organic fertilizers generally place fewer demands on energy resources, and they offer opportunities to recycle “garbage”.
The more concentrated a fertilizer (even an organic one), the less organic matter it contains. Fertilizers containing high concentrations of nitrogen, when used alone, can actually deplete soil organic matter, so if you use any such fertilizer, apply plenty of bulky organic matter, too. Dig materials such as straw, peat, compost, and leaves into the soil, or lay them on as mulch.
Naturally occurring mineral fertilizers are organic in the “not-synthetic” sense, but because they don’t contain organic matter, they’re not included in this list. Among them are Chilean nitrate, rock phosphate, greensand, and sulfate of potash magnesia.
Synthetic fertilizers do have some advantages. They cost less, are easier to transport, and are more uniform in nutrient content. All but controlled-release synthetic fertilizers are more quickly available to plants than organic fertilizers.
Why fertilize? Fertilizers are necessary make up for nutrients that are naturally carried down into the groundwater by rainfall, carried off into the air as gases, and carried into the kitchen by you. At least 16 nutrient elements are necessary for plant growth, but plants need three — nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (referred to by the elemental symbols N, P, and K) — in relatively large quantities. Most soils contain large reserves of the other 13 nutrients — especially calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc, and manganese — that might also hitchhike along when you fertilize with “the big three.”
The only way to know for sure if your garden requires fertilizers is to have the soil tested. The cooperative extension services in most states test garden soil for a nominal fee. Also check telephone directories for “soil testing laboratories.”
When to Apply. The best times to apply organic fertilizers are early spring and fall — or even a few months — before planting, because that allows time for soil microbes to digest the organic matter and transform nutrients into forms plants can use.
How to Apply. When you apply organic fertilizers, there’s no need to dig them deep into the soil. Plants’s feeder roots are mostly near the soil surface, and low oxygen levels deep in the soil would retard microbial growth, slowing nutrient release from organic fertilizers. Make an exception to that no-dig rule if a soil test shows that phosphorus levels are low. This nutrient moves very slowly, so the only way to spread it quickly through the root zone is to mix it into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil.
Always wear a dust mask when you apply bonemeal, guano, or any other type of fertilizer that’s dusty. All dusts are potential lung irritants.
How Much to Apply. The actual amount to apply will vary, depending on the results of a soil test and the rate of nutrient release from a particular fertilizer. A rough rule is: Apply approximately 2 pounds of actual nitrogen (100 pounds of 10-10-10 contains 10 pounds of “actual” nitrogen) per 1,000 square feet, or 0.2 pounds per 100 square feet. Apply the other key nutrients plants take from soil — phosphorus and potassium — at about one-tenth this rate, unless a soil test specifies otherwise.
In catalogs and garden centers, you can find many different kinds of organic fertilizers. Other kinds are either custom blends, or materials that are available in limited quantities or only regionally. All fit into one of the basic categories — plant, animal, compost, or manure — that are further described below.
Plant Substances or By-products. Fertilizers that are plant substances or by-products are often rich in nitrogen, sometimes in potassium. These fertilizers can be considered renewable resources, but you should take into account the resources that may have been needed to grow as well as process or transport them. Some, such as beet pulp and cottonseed meal, are by-products of other industries.
Animal processing by-products. Industries such as dairy farming and meat processing generate waste materials that are dried or minimally processed into fertilizers. None of these materials is derived from “certified organic” animals.
Composts. These are the “Cadillacs” of organic fertilizers. Although making compost from a variety of raw materials is possible, the finished products are remarkably similar in their final concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Composts generally contain a good balance and wide spectrum of nutrients, and they’re rich in humus — so rich in humus, in fact, that their actual nutrient concentrations are relatively low.
Composts are available commercially or can be homemade. They can be used along with other fertilizers. Ingredients in commercial composts include various kinds of animal manures and lawn and garden wastes. Homemade fertilizer is a way to deal with “waste” and make fertilizer simultaneously — and you always know what ingredients went into the finished product.
Manures. Manures used as organic fertilizers are derived from humans, animals, and in one case, insects; manures are available fresh or dried; however, use composted manure whenever possible.
The composition of various manures vary not only with the kind of animal source, but also with the age of the animal, the bedding, and method of manure storage and application.
Much of the benefit of organic fertilizers comes not from the nutrients, but from the organic matter — the bulk — the fertilizers contain. Among other benefits, organic matter helps soils hold water and air, makes nutrients already in the soil more available, and helps prevent diseases.
Don’t spurn organic fertilizers that are low in nutrients, because they’re rich in organic matter that turns to valuable humus in the soil.
Proximity to nature on one hand helps a person maintain physical health and remain disease-free. On the other hand, practice of yoga gives several health related benefits. Both healthy and unhealthy people can follow these simple tips and lead happy and healthy life.
Drink one or two glasses of water kept in a copper container after waking up in the morning. If copper container is not available, use pure fresh drinking water. Drink water (at least three cups) every two hours.
Practice brisk walking for 30 minutes daily after morning chores. Spend some time doing yoga asana, pranayama, surya namaskara, gardening, swimming or any other exercise of your choice.
Chew your food properly before swallowing and do not speak while eating. Eat sufficient food and do not fill the stomach completely. Take two meals a day, seven hours apart.
The best time for meals is before 11 a.m and 7 p.m. Soak grains, pulses and dry fruits overnight and use. The food should include 1/3rd portion of grains and pulses and the rest should include green vegetables. Take 20 percent cooked food and 80 percent raw food.Use low cholesterol oil for cooking and that too in very minimum quantity. Eat raw fruits, vegetables, sprouts, green leafy vegetables, seasonal fruits, salad, and fruit juice, coriander and mint chutney. The chapattis should be made with whole-wheat flour, eat unpolished rice and drink soup. Steam cooked food is also healthy.
Take lukewarm water mixed with lemon juice and honey instead of tea, take diluted curd or buttermilk instead of milk and jaggery in place of sugar.Sit in Vajrasana for 10 to 15 minutes after every meal.Use a hard bed to sleep on and a very thin flat pillow. Try to overcome all the worries before going to bed.
Lie down turning to your left after eating. There should be a gap of 15 minutes between meals and sleeping time.
Take deep breath and sit straight. It is a good practice to clean your stomach two to four times a day and take bath with cold or fresh water twice daily. Massage the hands after taking bath and try to dry the water. Then use a towel. Offer prayers twice daily; once before sunrise and again before bedtime.
Take salt, sugar, spices, pulses, clarified butter, ice cream, cooked food, potato etc. in limited quantity. Avoid wearing high-heeled sandals, shoes, watching television or cinema in excess and practicing tiring exercises.
Avoid tea, coffee, smoking, alcohol, and other such practices. Avoid refined flour and things made with it, polished rice, non-vegetarian food, processed food, adulterated food containing added colours, artificial food, etc.
Avoid consumption of dalda, oil, artificial food or cold drinks (soft drinks); do not eat unwillingly, in a worried state, when ill, or without feeling hungry. Do not eat very hot or very cold food. Protect yourself from noise, wind, and water. Use of harmful cosmetics, artificial fabrics, and soaps should be reduced.
Drink water half an hour before and after meals.Do not take sleeping pills, in case of sleeplessness, place a wet towel on the stomach (soak it in water and squeeze the water) and cover the body with a blanket or light quilt. Avoid meals at very late hours. Avoid being awake late in the night, or eating heavy or fried food.
Rinse the mouth thoroughly after every meal.
Brush your teeth in the morning and night. Chew carrot, radish, coconut, sugar cane, aniseed, and sesame etc. to strengthen the teeth.
Eat food rich in mineral and vitamin; including lemon juice, myrobalan, papaya, guava, tomato, carrot, etc.
Spinach is an extremely beneficial and tasty leafy vegetable. Spinach is found in all the parts of India and it is cooked in many different ways. In some places, people cook it along with potato and eat it in the form of dry vegetable, and in some places it is boiled, grinded and cooked with onions, garlic, tomato etc. Whatever may be the style of cooking, spinach is a healthy food. It is also cooked with the leaves of the rapeseed plant (sarson). This combination is very delicious and makes the spinach even more beneficial and healthy.
Spinach is the most beneficial among the leafy vegetables. Spinach is a very popular leafy vegetable. In winters it is produced in abundant quantity. It is also available in other seasons. Cold and humid climate is favorable for the growth of spinach.
Nutrients Found in Spinach:Spinach contains Vitamins A, B, C, Chlorophyll, Beta Carotene, and Sodium Riaphalebin etc. Spinach is cold in nature, but it destroys cold and phlegm. It also cures blood impurities and bile related problems.
Medicinal Qualities of Spinach:Spinach is beneficial in the form of food and also it is extremely beneficial in the form of medicine. It cures many diseases. Most children dislike it and do not want to eat it. Most ladies also show disinterest to cook it because it has to be cut and cooked and takes more time in cooking. I would like to ask these ladies a very simple question. You are willing to stand in long queues in doctor’s clinic, consume many harmful allopathic medicines and tolerate the side effects of these medicines, but you can’t spare a little time to cook this highly beneficial natural medicine known as spinach?
Nature has provided different types of vegetables and leaves to remain healthy. This is an invaluable gift from mother nature. We should not dislike these leaves and vegetables, but rather we should consume these vegetables whole heartedly. Leaves and vegetables are medicines in the form of food. They cure us in some form or the other and always keep us away from diseases. Spinach is one such natural medicine. It is not just a grass or some kind of ordinary leaf. We should develop knowledge about the medicinal qualities of spinach. The herbivorous animals eat grass and are much stronger than us. Spinach contains iron in abundant quantity. Consuming spinach regularly cures anemia. The Hemoglobin quantity in the blood rises sharply, the blood is purified and bones also become strong. Those who cannot eat spinach or are extremely weak should consume one glass of raw or boiled spinach juice everyday. The soup of any vegetable or leafy vegetable is easily digestible. It provides instant energy to a weak person, as it is easily digestible.
Spinach Cures Dental Problems:Consuming one glass of boiled spinach soup or eating it in the form of vegetable everyday cures dental problems. Soup of carrot and spinach cures the problem of bleeding gums. The gums become strong and the teeth last for a longer time.
Spinach is Beneficial in Urinary Disorders:Spinach is extremely beneficial in urinary disorders. Mix the spinach juice along with coconut water and consume it everyday, this helps excretes urine properly. Some people have the complaint of less or excess urination after meals, this problem is also cured because spinach has the quality of balancing the less or excess urination.
Spinach is Beneficial in Respiratory Diseases:Spinach is very beneficial in respiratory diseases. Drink the juice of raw spinach leaves and eat the raw leaves in the form of salad. This provides relief to patients suffering with respiratory problems. Spinach and honey cure the problems of throat, tuberculosis and asthma and remove the phlegm accumulated in the lungs. This gives energy to the lungs, so they start functioning normally. Spinach juice cures the burning sensation in the throat.
Spinach is the Best Medicine for Constipation:Spinach is the best medicine for constipation. It works as a purifier of the digestive system. Regular consumption of spinach juice automatically cleans the digestive system. It easily removes the toxic substances present in the intestine and also provides nutrition to the intestines. It is very important to remember that constipation is a serious disease and leads to almost all other diseases. If you want to remain healthy then eat spinach everyday.
Spinach is Useful for Pregnant Women:Green leaves of spinach are very useful for expecting mothers. The abundant quantity of iron is beneficial for both the child and the mother. Spinach contains vitamin A, which is extremely beneficial for pregnant women. It is very useful for increasing the breast milk. A pregnant woman should drink at least one glass of spinach juice everyday.
Precautions:Spinach leaves should be washed properly before cooking. Spinach contains oxalic acid. Kidney patients should consume spinach with a little care. It may cause wind (vayu) related problems; therefore it should not be consumed as much in the rainy season.