Excessive Soil Nutrients

Asked July 22, 2019, 3:47 PM EDT

Should anything be done about excessive nutrients in vegetable, herb, and berry garden soil? Sometimes the soil test reports that I receive from the test laboratory show that the amounts of nutrients in the soil exceed the needs of the plant ( are more than the optimum amount ). Examples are phosphate, potassium, and metals such as calcium and magnesium. Does this matter? If so, what should be done?

Charles County Maryland

1 Response

Hi- the high to excess levels of the nutrients you reference are not detrimental to plant growth and there's nothing you could do to remove them from the soil (only plants can do that). There is a potential risk of nutrient run-off and/or leaching into surface water or groundwater. Maintaining a level garden and keeping the soil covered as much as possible will reduce those risks.

Because nutrient levels are so high you can slow down on organic matter additions and only fertilize plants, if needed (with a highly soluble fertilizer) early in the growing season, a time when nutrient release from the soil may be slow and inadequate.