Greetings all! This is 7th graders McClain, Calvinesha, Dhivya, and Georgia here to tell you about a very important, yet perhaps undiscovered garden essential. Nitrogen!
Nitrogen is essential to all life forms on Earth, and that includes plants. To help the garden look beautiful and alive, it is important to have Nitrogen. Here we will tell you how you can increase the amount of Nitrogen in your gardens to keep all of your plants happy, healthy, and alive.
Nitrogen is found in many organic molecules. It helps living organisms create a type of amino acid that builds protein and DNA. Therefore, Nitrogen is needed for anything to live! Although there may not be much visible Nitrogen around us physically, it is actually all around us in the air! The number one place nitrogen is most found in, is… the air around us! Who would’ve guessed? For this nitrogen to be used by living things, it has to be absorbed by bacteria and algae in the soil that converts the nitrogen into a form that plants and animals can use. Because of this, it is important for the garden’s soil around the trailer, to be rich with nitrogen and these bacterias.
This form of nitrogen is mainly found in a type of plant called legumes. Legumes are any type of bean or lentil. Now the Nitrogen that is in the plants, can continue the cycle in many ways. The organism can excrete the waste and the organic matter can decay and be absorbed by the soil. The organism can also die and decay in the soil and that soil can flow into waterways including ground water and surface water. Or the organism can be eaten and now the nitrogen is in you! It is our job as a school to keep this cycle going and flowing correctly. Here’s a chart showing the process of plants and animals, using nitrogen and other important elements to keep cycles flowing and the garden healthy.
Cover crops are a very good idea to include in your garden, and not just for the benefits of nitrogen. A simple definition of a cover crop is a plant grown to cover soil during idle periods during the growing seasons. Cover crops can reduce the amount of wind and water passing over the soil, to reduce soil erosion, improving physical structure of soil. It replaces the soil organic matter, recycling nutrients. And of course, legume cover crops add nitrogen to the farming system!
Nitrogen is very important to the growth of plants, and is in fact, essential for growth. However, plants can suffer from too much nitrogen as well. If high levels of Nitrogen are present, plants may not bear fruits or vegetables, similar to the symptoms of not enough nitrogen, such as drooping and yellowing or brown leaves. In extreme cases, the plant will look burned and unhealthy due to the of lack of chlorophyll.
A good way to make sure your plants have enough nitrogen is to not use hard, rocky, or dry soil. In fact, the best way to add lots of nitrogen to your soil is to use- you guessed it- compost! Using compost is a great way to add all sorts of necessary elements to your plants, due to the nitrogen cycle.
One way nitrogen will affect the garden, is that it is a big part of most fertilizers. If the fertilizers are not used correctly, water or rain can wash it away, and it will be released into the atmosphere. Nitrogen becomes part of the biological matter mostly through the actions of bacteria and algae in a process known as nitrogen fixation. To complete the cycle, other bacteria in the soil carry out a process known as denitrification, which converts nitrates back to nitrogen gas.
So, I hope that through this we have convinced you of the importance of nitrogen in a garden, and in life. Nitrogen is found in fertilizers, compost, and legumes, all of which you can put on the plants that you are growing. It is all around us, even if you hadn’t noticed it!