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How Do Plants Grow in Depleted Soils?

How can plants grow without proper nutrients? 

How do plants grow in soils that are essentially lifeless and depleted?

Most plants require only three nutrients to grow: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. 

With these nutrients, along with sunshine and water, virtually all plants will grow into what appears to be healthy, nutritious adult specimens.

However, if organic minerals are not present in the soil, such plants and their relevant fruits and vegetables will be nutritionally "empty".

Normal plants, however, require around fifty-two different nutrients for good health and strong growth.

One way that soil depletion occurs is when chemical fertilizers are used. 

This then kills the microorganisms in the soil the produces minerals for the plants.

When an organic humus bed is destroyed, plants grown in that soil lack minerals.