Why gardeners use Epsom salt for vegetable gardening
Unlike the usual salt that is made of sodium (Na) and Chlorine (Cl), Epsom salt consists of magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), and oxygen (O).
It was first found in the waters of Epsom town, England. It has a crystalline chemical structure, which is why people call it salt. It came from natural resources, but now it is mostly man-made.
Initially, people only discover its advantages to bringing soothing and laxative effects on the body. Yet now, it is useful for humans, animals, and plants.
The main chemicals, magnesium and sulfur are secondary nutrients needed by plants. More than that, each element in Epsom salt for vegetable gardening has its benefits, which will be explained below.
How to use Epsom salt for vegetable gardening
There are two common ways to give Epsom salt to plants. The first is making soluble, consisting of one gallon of water and two tablespoons of Epsom salt.
Pour the soluble on the foliage or the soil. Another way is by spreading a spoonful of salt on the soil and pouring water on them.
Make sure to water in a sufficient amount that the salt dissolves. The plant cannot absorb crystal salt in the soil. Among them, the first one is more recommended.
Magnesium and sulfur are natural chemicals in soil. When adding salt increases the amount of magnesium in the soil, other chemicals like calcium will compete with magnesium to be absorbed.
Lacking calcium gives blossom end root. Hence, spraying the salt soluble in the foliage avoids ‘chemical competition’ in the soil as the magnesium is absorbed through stomatal pores.
Tips on giving Epsom salt for vegetable gardening
As explained before, healthy soil usually provides the complete 16 chemical nutrients plants need. Adding a fertilizer or nutrient booster should be in the right condition.
To avoid over-fertilizing, giving Epsom salt for vegetable gardening should follow these tips.
- Test and check the nutrient amount in the soil.
- Know the plant. Some leafy vegetables and beans love soil with a low level of magnesium. Meanwhile, other vegetables like tomatoes and bell peppers prefer high magnesium concentrations in their soil.
- Give the salt or its soluble only once or twice a month. It aims to avoid over-fertilizing. Even for healthy soil, giving the salt once a year is okay.
- The best time to give the salt is springtime as new leaves grow.
- Do not spray the soluble during hot temperatures since it scorches the leaf.
The ideal ratio of Epsom salt for vegetable gardening
Depending on the type of the plant, the soluble ratio, the frequency, and the spray amount might be different.
The ideal ratio for plants that require a high magnesium level is 30 ml or two tablespoons of Epsom salt for one-gallon water given once a month.
If it is given once a week, reduce the salt to half. For magnesium deficient soil, add up to 3 tablespoons for a gallon of water and spray them every 1.250 square feet of the ground.
For leafy vegetables, reduce the ratio and the frequency as a high magnesium level harms small leafy vegetables.
The benefits of Epsom salt for vegetable gardening
If it is given at the right time and condition, the salt promotes some benefits to plants. They include:
- Enhance nutrient absorption: gardeners already sing the salt during germinating since sulfur is lost easily. The magnesium sulfate boosts the cell uptake of other minerals like phosphorus and nitrogen.
- Deter pests and kill weeds: the natural function of sulfur in Epsom salt for vegetable gardening is to disrupt metabolic pests like slugs. Adding dish soap to the salt solution kills the weed without affecting the vegetables.
- Make leaves greener and prevent leaf curling or yellow leaves: a sign of magnesium deficiency is curling and yellow leaves. Then the sign of having enough magnesium is the green and bushy leaves.
- Boost the favor: healthier leaves have more photosynthesis, producing more oxygen and carbohydrates. Besides, the chemical also improves the ability of the plants to produce more flowers and fruits.
Risks of Epsom salt for vegetable gardening
Apart from the benefits, salt also has some risks in certain conditions. The first one is when the soil already has enough nutrients.
The second one is when the salt becomes the main fertilizer. It must e avoided since the core nutrients needed by plants are N-P-K, and the salt has zero amounts of them.
The third one is when the soil is acidic. If salt is added to the acid soil, the pH level will be lower, harming the plant. The last is when the plant has magnesium deficiency due to a high phosphorus level.
Sometimes the soil has enough magnesium, but the high phosphorus level inhibits the magnesium absorption and causes the plant’s deficiency.
Adding Epsom salt for vegetable gardening will not solve the deficiency, but reducing the level of phosphorus will. Adding salt may even add more problems.