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leaves and soil deficiencies or excesses  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I took some leaves from the garden with yeallow spots and tried to fnd out which deficieny it was. However, it is not so easy as some garden books suggest. Can you determine deficiencies at all with leaves?
 
pollinator
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Hi Angelika. It is certainly possible to tell things about the soil conditions based on the diseased/compromised leaves, but context is really important.

If, for instance, you have yellowing squash leaves and your nasturtiums are thriving, it's probably because your nasturtiums love unimproved soil conditions, and your squash are starving because they're heavy feeders. But if you have a heavily manured garden bed and your squash leaves start yellowing, it might be an imbalance of micronutrients or soil microbiota that affect the squashes' ability to uptake those nutrients, but it certainly wouldn't be due to a lack of manure.

Maybe if you could post pictures of the leaves and tell us more about the location and the specific circumstances, we could get a better idea of what you're dealing with.

-CK
 
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Hey Angelika, yes this is entirely possible. Some deficiencies can look similar and it can be a little difficult to determine exactly what's deficient. Below are some examples of leaves on citrus trees indicating different deficiencies:

Magnesium deficiency:


Iron deficiency:


Zinc deficiency:


Potassium deficiency:
 
James Freyr
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So I was thinking about this a little since my last post and I think it's important to note that just because a plant is expressing symptoms of a deficiency, that doesn't necessarily mean the soil is deficient. I'll use phosphorus for an example. Just because a plant shows signs of phosphorus deficiency, there could very well be plenty in the soil, but could be biologically unavailable, and healthy soil microbial life is what makes phosphorus, and the other nutrients, available for a plant to uptake. Phosphorus is also unique as soil temperature affects phosphorus availability. When I planted my tomato plants last spring, the soil was still cold and within a couple days my tomato transplants were looking a little purple because the phosphorus was mostly unavailable. After a couple weeks of warmer weather and the sun shining on the soil, the soil warmed and symptoms of the deficiency subsided.
 
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a picture would help but kinda of sound like calcium deficiency.

 
Angelika Maier
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Of course the context is important, but then you have to have a ton of knowledge (trying to build that). What you said could be summed up as: First it could be a deficiency, second the mineral is not available and third there might be imbalances. And I find that some look very similar and deficiencies look different in different plants.
I have one area of the garden were I took those pictures:
These plants are under big alder trees and the soil is heavily amended with woodchips.
P1070566_opt.jpg
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currant leaves
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another woodland plant
P1070571_opt.jpg
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violet
P1070572_opt.jpg
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tinellia (spelling?)
 
gardener
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Also keep in mind that certain minerals only come available to the plant during certain ph ranges.
John S
PDX OR
 
Angelika Maier
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All the ph I measured was around neutral. I think there's another problem: you can have multiple deficiencies that means patterns would overlap.
Here's another good chart about deficiencies but I cannot decide which deficiency there is in my plants: deficiencies
 
Angelika Maier
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Here are some new pics of nutrient deficiencies, once you start looking you see them everywhere. Only very few of these examples fit easily into a category of the pictures to teach you. So what is your bet? Please have a look at the pictures further up!
P1070579_opt.jpg
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tomato leaf
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older zuccini leaf could be sunburn as well
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wild peach
 
John Saltveit
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I don't think those leaves look bad. I would put my energy elsewhere. I don't think you have much of a problem.
John S
PDX OR
 
James Freyr
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Angelika, I really don't think there is much, if any deficiency symptoms going on. The only two that might be exhibiting symptoms are the currant & violet, but it's difficult to tell. The zucchini I think is something else as the other leaves in the picture appear to be perfectly healthy. You mentioned your soil is about neutral, if anything perhaps consider lowering the pH half a point and target 6.5ish. Otherwise I think your plants look great, and I wouldn't change what you're doing.
 
Angelika Maier
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The zuccinin might be sunburn.
 
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Have you done a soil test? Which type (modified morgan, Melich III, aqua regia, etc)? Tests are not terribly expensive and can help you address deficiency and imbalance. If this is soil you're going to eat many of your yearly meals from you owe it to yourself to amend as needed with minerals.
 
Angelika Maier
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I am waiting for the results. I did the Mehlich one because Solomon has this easy to fill out forms. But I didn't do it is the areas I took the photos from. I think with the soil test, looking at the plants and the prolific weeds it gives a bit of a picture. The soil test will help me to understand the weeds and the signs better.
 
pollinator
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Angelika,

something else to consider (I'm specifically looking at the peach, which could be zinc or iron) is that several minerals compete for transport. Iron, zinc and copper are an example. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are similar. Too much of one can look like a deficiency. As an example, I had some bad chlorosis like your peach. Really pale in between dark veins. It turns out my soil is practically devoid of zinc! And what little it had couldn't compete with the iron in that area. The problem with just looking at a leaf is that some of these are really narrow in terms of how much you can apply, and in what form. It is going to take a lot of zinc to get anywhere in that area, and it has to be done pretty slowly. I do a little after each rain when things are growing and taking up minerals.
 
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