Whether it is in a greenhouse, nursery or landscape, mineral deficiencies usually develop early in the growth cycle of a plant. Mild deficiencies are generally not noticed for many years because lack of minerals effects is chronic and not catastrophic. However, you can notice a change in stem and leaves due to mineral deficiencies. Leaves tend to be small and pale in color. Sometimes, you find dead areas at the tip, margin or between the veins.
The best way to demonstrate the effects of mineral deficiencies is to do plant experiments with fertilizers. You can even do this at home with your children. It can be a nice and interesting science project for them.
Take 4 small pots of the same size. Make sure that the pots have a drainage hole at the bottom. If you do not have pots, you can also take Styrofoam cups and make a hole at the bottom for drainage. Fill the pots with soil and moisten it. Allow excess water to drain out.
Now sprinkle 8 to 10 radish seeds in the soil. After that, cover the seeds with around 1/4 inch soil and then lightly water again. You should make sure that you water it lightly everyday thereafter. Once the seeds sprout, place them in the same sunny location.
Use the following one week after the seeds sprout and then again after 30 from the day the seeds sprouted:
- Pot I -- no fertilizer; just garden soil
- Pot II -- chemical fertilizer
- Pot III -- organic fertilizer
- Pot IV -- liquid fertilizer
Do not forget to label the pots so that you know which fertilizer was put in which pot. Radish normally matures after 35 to 45 days. You will notice a difference in plant size, leaf color and taste depending on what fertilizer was used in experiment.
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