By Jackie Rhoades
Is calcium required in garden soil? Isn’t that the stuff the builds strong teeth and bones? Yes, and it’s also essential for the ‘bones’ of your plants – the cell walls. Like people and animals, can plants suffer from calcium deficiency? Plant experts say yes.
Good soil and calcium are linked. Just as we need fluids to carry nutrients through our body, so is water needed to carry calcium. Too little water equals a calcium deficiency plant. If water is sufficient and problems still exist, it’s time to ask how to raise calcium in soil. But first let’s ask the question, WHY is calcium required in garden soil?
How Calcium Affects Plants
There are many essential minerals in soil, and calcium is one of them. It’s not only needed to build strong cell walls to keep the plant upright, it provides transport for other minerals. It may also counteract alkali salts and organic acids. When you add calcium to the soil, it’s like giving your garden a vitamin pill.
A calcium deficiency plant is notable for its stunted growth in new leaves and tissues. Brown spots may appear along the edges and grow toward the center of the leaves. Blossom end rot in tomatoes and peppers, black heart in celery and internal tip burn in cabbages are all signals to add calcium to the soil.
How to Raise Calcium in Soil
Adding lime to the soil in the fall is the easiest answer to how to raise calcium in the soil. Eggshells in your compost will also add calcium to soil. Some gardeners plant eggshells along with their tomato seedlings to add calcium to soil and prevent blossom end rot.
Once you recognize a calcium deficiency plant, foliar applications are the best answer to how to raise calcium. In soil, the roots take up calcium. In foliar feeding, calcium enters through the leaves. Spray your plants with a solution of 1/2 to 1 ounce of calcium chloride or calcium nitrate to one gallon of water. Make sure the spray thoroughly covers the newest growth.
Calcium is essential to plant growth and it’s easy to ensure they get enough to grow healthy and strong.