If you’re looking for inexpensive ways to improve your gardening techniques this year, the answer might already be sitting in your bathroom closet or medicine cabinet. Growing vegetables for less can be a snap with some homemade, garden-friendly recipes using Epsom salt. Epsom salt, also known as Magnesium sulfate, is a white, crystalline powder commonly used in bath soaks and for other beauty and medicinal purposes.
Epsom salt is a longtime, affordable way to help start your garden or improve your garden once it’s already going. You can use Epsom salt in the garden as a fertilizer, a pest deterrent, and also as a seed starter, to name a few. Epsom salt can also enhance the quality and condition of your lawn and shrubs! Read on for further benefits of Epsom salt to your garden as well as practical applications of Epsom salt for tomatoes, houseplants, roses, and more.
“Tests by the National Gardening Association confirm that Epsom Salt makes pepper plants grow larger than those treated only with commercial fertilizer,” says Pete Smolowitz, who represents the Epsom Salt Council. “Best of all you can find Epsom at any local drug store or hardware store for just pennies a pound.”
Smolowitz shares that research indicates Epsom salt positively impacts the following elements of gardening:
• Helps seeds germinate.
• Makes plants grow bushier.
• Produces more flowers.
• Increases chlorophyll production.
• Improves phosphorus and nitrogen uptake.
• Deters pests, including slugs and voles.
Tips for Improving Your Plants and Garden Using Epsom Salt from the Epsom Salt Council
• Tomatoes: 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks.
• Garden Startup: Sprinkle one cup per 100 square feet. Mix into soil before planting.
• Houseplants: Add two tablespoons per gallon of water; feed plants monthly.
• Roses: Add one tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks. Also scratch 1/2 cup into soil at base to encourage flowering canes and healthy new basal cane growth. Soak unplanted bushes in 1 cup of Epsom Salt per gallon of water to help roots recover. Add a tablespoon of Epsom Salt to each hole at planting time. Spray with Epsom Salt solution weekly to discourage pests.
• Shrubs (evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron): Add one tablespoon per nine square feet. Apply over root zone every two to four weeks.
• Lawns: Apply three pounds for every 1,250 square feet with a spreader, or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer.
• Trees: Apply two tablespoons per nine square feet. Apply over the root zone three times annually.
– Tips courtesy of the Epsom Salt Council
“Magnesium and sulfates are the two major components of Epsom salt,” Smolowitz says. “Crop researchers have determined that magnesium is a critical mineral for seed germination and is vital to the production of chlorophyll, which plants use to transform sunlight into food. In addition, Epsom salt can aid in the absorption of phosphorus and nitrogen, two of the most important fertilizer components. Although magnesium and sulfur occur naturally in soil, they can be depleted by various conditions, including heavy agricultural use over time. But unlike most commercial fertilizers, which build up in the soil over time, Epsom salt is not persistent so you can’t overuse it.”
Smolowitz also says sulfur compounds, the other major component of Epsom salt, offer an important source of plant nutrients. Sulfur compounds in Epsom salt can contribute to chlorophyll production and enhance the effectiveness of primary nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, found in most fertilizers.
If you would like to try these gardening applications of inexpensive Epsom salt in your own gardens and yard, pick up some Epsom salt at your local drugstore, superstore, supermarket, or even online at Amazon.com.
For more information on Epsom salt and its varied uses for garden, health, and beauty, visit online at: http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org.