Epsom salts can green your garden naturally

By Melanie Mathieson
The Gardening Guru

Epsom salts can be a way to help green up your garden naturally.
Epsom salts contain magnesium and sulfur—two elements found in nature that are important for plant growth.
Magnesium helps form chlorophyll in plants and is essential for photosynthesis. Magnesium also is critical in various enzyme reactions and other plant growth processes.
Magnesium usually is present naturally in the soil and also is found in organic fertilizers.
A magnesium deficiency usually can be identified by the presence of chlorosis—a yellowing of the leaf between leaf veins and an upward curling of leaves.
Sulfur, meanwhile, helps activate many plant proteins and enzymes needed for growth. It also helps plants resist the cold, and assists in root production and seed growth.
Sulfur often is delivered to plants in the form of rain water.
Sulfur deficiency delays maturity, and causes plants to remain small and spindly. Young leaves, and possibly some older ones, may be pale green to yellowish in colour.
Epsom salts are a good way to deliver sulfur and magnesium to plants. If your plant is low in either of these nutrients, adding Epsom salts can be beneficial.
In most cases, however, low magnesium goes hand-in-hand with soil acidity. Soils that lack magnesium tend to be acidic.
Epsom salt actually is considered a neutral salt, meaning it has very little effect on a soil’s pH. Therefore, in the cases where the soil it too acidic, dolomitic lime is a more appropriate way to raise soil pH.
If you add the dolomite, skip the Epsom salts or you will over-feed with magnesium.
Epsom salts can help seeds germinate, make plants grow bushier, increase flower production, increase chlorophyll production, deter pests (including slugs and voles), and improve phosphorus and nitrogen uptake.
The following are some recommended concentrations for using Epsom salts in your garden (always remember “more is not better” when applying nutrients so don’t go overboard):
•House plants
Mix one teaspoon per gallon of water and feed to the plants every two-four weeks.
This liquid mix also can be used for flower beds and container gardens outdoors.
•Garden soil preparation
Sprinkle roughly one cup per 100 square feet (10’x10’) and mix into soil before planting.
When transplanting to the garden, start with a tablespoon in the bottom of each hole mixed into the soil. Once planted, apply one tablespoon per foot of height for each plant every two weeks.
Sprinkle on the soil around base of plant and mix into soil slightly with your hand.
It is best to apply before watering.
Apply one teaspoon per foot of height for each plant every two weeks. Sprinkle on the soil around base of plant and mix into soil slightly with your hand.
It is best to apply before watering.
•Evergreen trees, azaleas, and rhododendrons
Apply one tablespoon per nine square feet (3’x3’) over the root zone every two-four weeks.
Sprinkle evenly over area.
Apply three pounds per 1,250 square feet (25’x 50’), apply six pounds per 2,500 square feet (50’x 50’), and apply 12 pounds per 5000 square feet (50’x 100’).
Use a lawn spreader to apply.
Apply two tablespoons per nine square feet (3’x 3’) over root zone every four months. Sprinkle evenly over area.
Some herbs, especially sage, do not like Epsom salts so be careful around herbs.
You can purchase Epsom salts at your favourite pharmacy. Just make sure you are buying pure Epsom salts, not ones with additives to make them more pleasant for human use.
And make sure you price compare. I find the bulk store or large-volume plastic bags of salts are the most economical.