The entire list of conditions and inputs required to produce healthy plants with optimal yields may very well be endless. But there are several key conditions and inputs that must be met to give plants a fighting chance.
From external sources:
- Heat – The optimal temperature is 70℉ for most vegetables. But as temperatures approach the maximum that a specific plant can tolerate, it may consume more food than it can produce through photosynthesis.
- Moisture – A plant’s root will pull water into the stem and move it to the leaves as part of the process of photosynthesis. During the process, water is exchanged for carbon dioxide in a process called transpiration.
- Oxygen – Plants require oxygen for aerobic respiration, a process by which they take in oxygen to help break sugars into energy. This occurs when there is a light deficiency. When light is available, the plant will use carbon dioxide to photosynthesize the light and water from the roots producing oxygen in the process.
- Light – Plants use the chlorophyll in their leaves to trap the sun’s light energy and transform it into usable energy during photosynthesis where it processes carbon dioxide and water.
- Space – Proper spacing is essential for root development and access to light for plants in soil or hydroponic growing situations. Plants that are too crowded will compete for light and soil nutrients.
From the soil:
- Proper tilth – Soil tilth refers to the structure of the soil. The roots of any plant can only develop in soil with tilth that allows for proper water movement air infiltration, nutrient accessibility. Good tilth generally has large pore spaces for roots to develop.
- Drainage – Proper drainage is required in any environment for plants to develop in a healthy manner. Poor drainage prevents oxygen from becoming available to the roots. Additionally, poor drainage can also lead to the development of root rot, a condition where the plant’s root begin to breakdown structurally and become incapable of doing their job to sustain the plant.
- Water-soluble vitamins and minerals – Plants need food and that food must be presented in a form that the plant can work with easily. Macro- and micro-nutrients that are water-soluble, along with an assortment of vitamins and minerals, provide the necessary building blocks for each stage of plant development and can be absorbed by the plant.
- Bio-available nutrients – Nutrients are essential for plant development but not all nutrients that are present are in a form that can be absorbed and synthesized by the plant. Increasing the bio-available nutrient content in soil is generally done with the addition of amendments and proper soil maintenance over time.