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Calcium Deficiency for the Home Gardener

We are used to hearing about calcium’s importance for the human body. We know we need to have plenty in our diet (naturally occurring of course!) and as we age, especially women, we need even more for our bones.
Let me stop you for a moment, have you ever thought about how the calcium gets into our food in the first place?
Just like humans, plants can be deficient in calcium, which then means our food is deficient in calcium and well, it pays to spare a thought about how we can increase calcium in our food supply (for plant AND human health).

Did I tell you that our produce these days has up to 50% less mineral nutrition in it than in our grandparents day? You literally have to eat twice the amount of food to get the same amount of nutrition. That’s a double edged sword! Eat twice as much and join the obesity epidemic, eat the same amount and join the growing number of people with mineral deficiency disorders.

Farmers have long realised the need for this important mineral, and so they apply calcium by the truckload. Their reasons aren’t always for the health of the consumer, but calcium deficiency can have huge ramifications on the viability of crops and this, in turn, affects the bottom line and the farmer’s livelihood.
So for commercial growers and end consumers, more calcium-dense food is a win/win situation.
Calcium is an essential and major plant nutrient. It is especially important when a plant is in a growing phase, think: at times a plant is growing shoots, flowers and fruit. So when the plant doesn’t have access to or has trouble absorbing the available calcium, the deficiency will cause visible abnormalities in the growing parts of the plants (the shoots and fruits and roots).
In fact, MANY physical and visible disorders of your plants can be attributed to Calcium deficiency! (And THIS is something most people don’t know, so please SHARE this blog!). Here is a list of the most common things we see in calcium-deficient plants, see if you recognise any of these in your plants:

  • Blossom-end rot of tomatoes and capsicum
  • Fruit pitting in Kiwifruit
  • Albeda breakdown in citrus
  • Bitter pit in apples
  • Hollow Heart, known as ‘Browning’ in potatoes
  • The heads of cauliflower, broccoli or asparagus which are open and no longer tight
  • Leaves of cereal grains that will not uncurl as they emerge from the plant
  • Blackheart in celery
  • Fruit splitting and cracking – especially after rainfall
  • Dieback of growing shoots and roots
  • Calcium deficiency delays and may even inhibit bud burst in the following season
  • Irregular cropping is also caused by calcium deficiency
  • It affects the post-harvest, ‘keeping quality’ of fruit, primarily the fruit skin quality
  • Trees become susceptible to pests and disease due to weaker cells from a lack of calcium.

So, are you thinking you may have plants that are deficient, wondering why that may be?
The supply of calcium may be limited to your plant during a critical growth phase, for a few reasons. Stressful conditions such as drought and very hot weather, winds that dry out the tissues, soil that has excess Nitrogen, or plants that simply grow too fast for the roots to keep up with the calcium supply. And of course, maybe there simply isn’t enough calcium in the soil.

How can you fix the calcium deficiency, organically?

Well, the interesting thing is, there are many calcium products on the market which do very little to get calcium to the areas the plant needs it the most, it turns out that Calcium is a very immobile mineral–meaning it is hard for the plants to move it around the plant to where it needs to go. Some commercial calcium products contain synthetic nitrogen and chlorides (think – unnecessary chemical fillers).

Let’s get all ‘sciency’ for a moment. At Roots, Shoots & Fruits we have a product called Biomin Calcium which is a Biogro certified organic product, that is designed in such as way that the plants absorb it more readily than the conventional fertilisers.

Biomin Calcium is very mobile and easily absorbed within hours

How does it work? If you look up ‘Glycine Chelation technology’ you’ll see. It’s science-speak for cloaking the Calcium molecules in a groovy costume (made of Glycine) that the plants find a lot easier to absorb and distribute to their extremities because Glycine is the smallest amino acid and what plants themselves are made of. Maybe its plant trickery, maybe its super advanced biotechnology, either way, the research and field trials show that the benefits are visible.
Put Biomin Calcium on your plants (in a foliar spray), at times of plant growth and notice:

  • Less disease and deficiency symptoms we listed above, PLUS
  • Bigger fruit
  • Better colour – think apples that are juicier and brighter in colour
  • Less fruit splitting after a heavy rain, (no ones likes grapes or tomatoes with cracks!)
  • The product is totally absorbed by the plant within a few hours, so the effects can be swift!
  • Crunchier fruits: Think grapes and apples
  • Stronger more rigid stems and stalks
  • Calcium also acts as a detoxifying agent by binding up the toxic compounds it comes across.

And another thing which is a super bonus of having effective calcium levels (this is the SECRET WEAPON of the commercial growers), the shelf life of picked produce is measurably longer. One study of rockmelon found that fruit immersed in Biomin Calcium at picking lasted 2 weeks longer on the shelf. (Insert reference here).
And remember how I said this was an organic product, safe for you and the people around you? Even an overdose of this product will cause no harm to either you or your plants.

You can see now why commercial producers take this stuff seriously and use Biomin Calcium as part of their regular fertiliser program. We hope more growers, farmers, lifestyle blockers and home gardeners understand the importance of Calcium and how it can vastly improve the health of their plants and the nutrient density of their produce.