The Basics of Soil Calcium and Sulfur


Sulf-O-Cal can turn edible crops into a bounty of flavorful and vibrant looking plants, vegetables and fruits.Both calcium and sulfur are essential nutrients to plants. With a deficiency of calcium or sulfur, plant color, vigor, strength and food flavor can be negatively affected.

Calcium is naturally present in the soil, but the amount varies by location. Repeated planting and harvesting of crops and produce rob the soil of calcium that is essential for a variety of plant functions. Plants use calcium in the process of cell division and cell wall development. In addition, calcium helps establish enzyme activity, starch metabolism, and nitrate uptake for the plant.

What determines the level of calcium availability in soil? In soils that are higher in pH, above 7.2 for example, plants are less likely to absorb calcium from the soil.

Excess sodium (Na) in the soil will also negatively affect the amount of calcium present. Sodium competes with calcium, and this tends to decrease the amount of calcium available. In general, high levels of sodium will displace calcium, and this will cause calcium leaching. The result? The soil structure will be poor, and steps should be taken to balance the amount of sodium present in the soil.
Adding a gypsum product like Sulf-O-Cal to the soil will replace bio-available calcium and restrain excess levels of sodium.

The correct balance between calcium and other soil nutrients will improve the soil structure around plants and reduce the displacement of nutrients. In essence, the soil needs calcium and other nutrients to balance out the soil structure and provide the best growing medium for plants.

What types of plants especially enjoy the addition of calcium to soil? Most edible crops do: plants like apples, cherries, citrus, cucurbits, peaches, peppers and tomatoes to name a few.

When a calcium deficiency happens to arise in the soil, a few problems could come about. Plants suffering from a deficiency of soil calcium will have impeded new growth, and leaves could start to become deformed. Blossom end rot can take hold on tomatoes and peppers. Overall, the root growth of affected plants will be impaired, and the flavor of edible crops could be affected.

Sulfur is also an essential soil nutrient. Sulfur is essential to providing structural components of enzymes, is the catalyst of chlorophyll production, and improves the flavor and color of many edible crops.

Soils heavy in clay can affect the level of sulfur in soil. Soil temperatures can also affect the levels of sulfur, as lower soil temperatures can reduce the microbial processes in soil. If a soil lacks essential amounts of organic matter, sulfur can be less available to plants. And if the soil has poor drainage, it will reduce the amount of oxygen available for the sulfur absorption process.

As with calcium, many crops including edible ones need sulfur. Some specific crops that benefit from a good availability of sulfur in the soil are broccoli, cabbage, corn, carrots, beets and watermelon.

If a soil is deficient in sulfur there can be several problems. Foliage, especially younger foliage, will start to yellow. And the color of the leaves of the plant will start to pale overall.

To improve any sulfur and calcium deficiencies in the soil, a product like Sulf-O-Cal can help. This product provides both calcium and sulfur components in a fine-ground calcium sulfate material. It does not change soil pH, and it will improve plant color, vigor, strength, nutrition and food flavor.

Contact Garden Vigor for additional information on our natural gardening products that help grow a better garden.