Are you ready? It's time for our 14th annual photo contest! Enter your best pictures of the year, for a chance to win a calendar and annual subscription here. Hurry! Deadline for entries is October 21.
Can someone please tell me where they have read that Epsom salt helps to create strong stems? I thought by putting seedlings close to a light source and a very, very weak solution of fertilizer is the right way to go. That's what I do and I have little "trees" growing in my seed starting trays.
This is what I know (have learned). The fertilizer that I'm using has all the nutrients needed by plants including calcium but not magnesium sulfate (epsom salt), which I add. So ES is just one of the important ingredients in a complete fertilizer.
Perhaps the following information and Link may answer your question.
Question: Epsom Salts and Plants - Is it Worth Using Epsom Salts as a Plant Fertilizer?
Gardeners have been using Epsom salts as a plant fertilizer for generations, but is there any evidence there's a real benefit to the plants? There is little research to prove conclusively that Epsom salts have any effect on plants, but many seasoned gardeners cite their own gardens as proof that Epsom salts help certain plants grow stronger and produce better.
Additional Information Here --- http://gardening.about.com/od/organicgardenin1/f/Epsom_Salts.htm
Bob, After having read the information behind the link VGMKY provided, I am going to have to kid you just a little here. Now we know why you plants look like beautiful little dark green trees - it's the Epsom salt you add with your fertilizer. Just kidding!
Dem healthy little babies, and it's true. Look at your fertilizer and see what's in it. Does it have every nutrient plants need? The only reason why I'm saying this, is because container gardening needs all the nutrients applied unlike garden soil that has some of the goodies in it. I think Miracle Gro assumes you are planting in the ground because they are short on nutrients.
Stout stems?? I swear by this method---- start seed and wait until the first set of 'true leaves' form...not the cotyledon (embryonic leaves that form first)--- then, transplant into good quality potting soil while burying the seedlings up to the top set of "true leaves". Put them under
ordinary fluorescent light... 2 inches above the leaves... and watch them grow. As they get taller, raise the fluorescents to maintain 2 inches above top leaves for the remainder of their seedling life. THEN... TWICE a day ...EVERY day... brush the plants the plants with your hands. A biological reaction called "" Thigmotropism"" will set in to produce strong stems. CHECK it out on the Internet if you don't believe it. It DOES make them stronger!! My fluorescent lites are on a timer for 16 hours ON and 8 hours OFF. After 7--8 weeks harden them off and 1 week later plant tem in the garden.
Jerry, also keep in mind that your seedlings are barely 3 weeks old and any seeding that age will be affected (blown over, wimpy) by 20 mph winds. A gentle breeze will help them grow stronger trunks but a strong wind just irritates them and if they are under that kind of stress you won't get the growth that you are looking for. Maybe a wind break of some kind while they are outside would be helpful.
Someone else on DG recently mentioned using Epsom's for "strong stem growth". I would have to do a search for that thread where it was previously mentioned but will note again that magnesium is required for when plants get to the seed production stage. And yes, it'll certainly green up plants, too, (Chlorophyll has Mg as its main ion.) Lastly, keep in mind that while magnesium helps 'build cell walls' (most likey those 3 words is what make people think it helps build strong stems) it doesn't mean it'll help them build stronger/bigger/healthier cell walls, those things will be up to an overall feeding diet and environmental factors.
Wishing everyone a successful tomato crop! I sure do like looking at ya'lls pics; nothing here like that yet!
Ok, I'll get them a wind break, but they still go outside cause they sure like the sunshine. This morning they had straightened up after yesterday's blow. Today's wind is a little more than yesterday's, however.
You just taught me something. Thanks. I've been using a kitchen strainer. Never thought about a window screen to drain the coconut coir. Brilliant. Just happen to have a couple of those hanging around.
Bob, I thought about the kitchen strainer and even a colander, but knowing how clumsy I am I wanted more space to catch the bits and pieces that I would drop while filling the little pots. I work from the center of the coir pile and fill the pots holding them over the whole mess. As you probable know I still have to squeeze some of the coir a little and I do this over the hole in the center so the juice runs straight trough the screen into the trough.
Working with coir is just like working with my African Violet soil less mix...just fill and gently tap the pot down on the concrete step. This settles the coir nicely around the plant. Love this stuff!
What I'd like to see is someone do some real studies on the possible effect of Epsom Salts on stems and any other part of a plant and that means doing controls, and I've never seen that kind of data anywhere.
Grow X number of varieties using Epsom Salts and the same varieties not using Epsom Salts.
That's really the only way to know if there is any effect at all.
Yes, the central molecule in Chlorophyll is Mg++ but we're talking molecular amounts here which are present in sufficient amounts in any soil, and most folks add fertilizers of one kind or another to container grown plants. Probably a shot of seaweed or fish emusion as a foliar feed is the best way to get micronutrients to the foliage when using artificial mix.
And I certainly do agree with Larry about thigmotropism and brushing the tops of the plants on a regular basis.
The thigmotropism thingie discovery with tomato plants, for it's nothing new that touch can effect plants, was kind of interesting. It was noted that the flats of plants that grew along the narrow aisles in commercial greenhouses grew stockier plants than others. The connection was that workers going down thru those aisles to water plants brushed up against the plants on the aisles and it was that touch that helped the plants grow stockier.
Having a fan blowing gently over the seedlings can also help as I think someone above did already say.
Other than that I think Epsom Salts is best used when a soil test indicates low levels of MG++ in the soil until and unless there's data from controlled studies to show otherwise.
Carolyn, Thanks for your input. It's always a pleasure to learn from such a knowledgeable resource.
Yes research would be good on the ES thing. I would like to see cross sections of the stems of tomato plants that have been fed different amounts of Mg and S.
One reason it may seem to benefit plants in my area is due to the amount of calcium in our water and soil. Since the ES tends to be some what of an acidifier, it may allow plants to take up other nutrients that were locked out due to the calcium.
Well on to the transplanting of the little maters into coir. Yesterday I used coir for the first time so I wanted to get my feet (hands) wet by easing into it in a small way. I started by soaking a small brick I had bought back in the Fall. Last night I wanted to soak a bale so I had to up size the operation to an old 104 quart cooler I had stored out in the barn. (see picture)
I know now that a bigger operation will be needed in order for me to get the 40 or so grow bags I have planned for the growing season ready in time to plant. I am thinking that the five 55 gallon drums I have tucked away will be needed. Two bales should hydrate nicely in each one.
Jerry...This texas wind is tough. I must be downwind of you cause I thought I smelt 'maters the last few days.
I bought these little black dishpans for $1.00 each at the dollar store. They work good for me. I just sit the 5 gal coir bags in a container and then run a hose on the top of the coir block. This helps wet and break up the block from the top while the pan is filling. I run the hose untill the pan is full of water. You can watch the water recede in the pan as the coir sucks it up and the coir hydrates in about 15 minutes. Im not growing in the gro bags themselves right now, I just need the coir hydrated and ready to go when I wont it and I keep 5 of them hydrated all the time.
My original plan was to cut the bales into 4 pieces and put each piece in a five gal gro bag inside a 5gal pickle bucket and hydrate. I have change my mind and decided to hydrate in 55 gal drums to get a larger volume of coir quantity faster. I now plan to transplant the maters from the 4" pots direct to a half filled gro bag and do the thang that BocaBob is doing with his maters.
Question: Am I the only person NOT using COIR? (smile) ? Living in a small South Carolina town I do not even know where to purchase it. Am surely willing to give it a try however. I make my own potting soil which I keep in two 40 gal. containers. It is simply a mixture of equal amounts of perlite, vermiculite, and spahgnum. I use it quite successfully for seed starting and general potting of most plants. Until transplanting them into my garden I water with 1/2 tsp Miracle Grow per gallon of water. Right now I have over 100 beautiful tomato plants and other flower and vegetable plants ready to put into my garden about April first. Do you feel that using coir would benefit me in the future?
100 tomato plants, sounds like you love tomatoes! Your mix is a nice blend (you could probably cut back on the vermiculite and save some money). Coir is easy to work with and barring any disease getting into it you can use it over and over, unlike peat moss which will tend to break down faster. When I first used it back in the late 80's it was new to most folks; today's 'new and improved' is a much better product. I bet it'll finally start showing up in stores in the next year as it gains in popularity.
I know I posted this some place else but Epsom Salts Magnesium sulfate (not Sodium) are used as a fertilizer,laxative, and to soak sore muscles in. I was told by my MD that it breaks down the surface tension of the water which allows for better absorption, which would explain why it is good as a laxative, it moves more water into the bowels. I don't believe it has as much to do with the addition of Magnesium or sulfate but more to do with increasing the usability of the fertilizer itself.
Right on..I think it's the sulfur that helps to unlock nutrients allowing the plants to take up what they need to stay green and healthy. There is so much calcium in our soil and water that it causes the plants to shut down. Some of the nurseries around here sell fertilizers such as 13-13-13 with sulfur added and you can always find liquid iron on store shelves.
I've been feeding my seedlings every watering with a weak solution of fert mixed in filtered well water. They were doing beautifully until two days ago when I let them get a little too dry. I grabbed up the hose and gave them a quick watering. This morning the pepper plants were showing signs of yellow leaves with green veins. So, I hit the whole batch of plants with a mix of one tablespoon of Epsom salt to a gallon of water and a 1/4 teaspoon of MG added for good measure.
Here is a picture of the plants that will start getting planted the later part of this coming week. The seeds for these plants were planted in peat pellets 1/14/09. Soon after they were up they went outdoors every sunny day when the temp was 60º or more. After they were transplanted in the 4" pots they stayed outdoors covered at night except when the temps were predicted to be under 40º.
Epsom salts = magnesium sulfate. Magnesium and sulfur are micronutrients and help in the overall health of tomato plants by assisting in the absorption and implementation of the macronutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. You need the micronutrients, in other words, to maximize the use of the essential NPK.
Potassium, K, is the macronutrient essential for strong structure in the tomato plant.
A weak dose of Epsom salts in the fertigation of seedlings or maturing plants will not hurt a thing, but the more essential elements ... N, P and K ... are what your plants need more.
Nitrogen = leaves and shoots (new and verdant growth)
Phosphorus = roots and fruits (root mass and flower development)
Potassium = overall health and structure of the plant
A balanced tomato food, whether synthetic, organic, or a combination of both, will contain all the macronutrients and the micronutrients in a balanced formula. If the one you are using isn't balanced, find a way to amend it so that it is.
It's my opinion that tomato plants need feeding from the time the cotyledons yellow until the time you want to cut off production of flowers and development of new fruit.
The key is to measure and schedule the feeding appropriately.
I think they're cattle panels. I know other folks who use them to great effect.
My only concern with the 5 gallon grow bags is that in June, they may run out of water from the time you water in the morning until the time you get home. Have you looked into timers and soaker hoses or drip irrigation?
feldon I know that BocaBob uses the timers and spray turret irragation system on his (so will I be this summer) and he says the 5 gallon bags have to be watered twice a day during the really hot season.
Figured how to use 'tags'! Am getting 4X7 steel mesh panels and 5 ft. fence u-posts.
Texas showed me how to attach it to posts with clips used in barbed wire or wire to small openings on u-post...morning grories comming up in my window, did buy a heat blanket in camping dept. ( it's aluminum and should help reflect the light )..
Can't wait to get out to rake and plant...35 now with a frigid wind...this has been a loong winter in MA.. Will take pictures when done and learn how to post them!!
Tell me if I am crazy!- I just found, in my vitamin stash, a big unopened container of Calcium/Magnesium Supplements that is outdated. HMMM- I am planning to add Epsom Salts & Powdered Milk to the tomato holes-- here it is already mixed up- So I put them all in my VitaMix container (an old one that I use to puree compost material in) and they ground up in 3 seconds- now I will just mix some in with the soil as I plant. I also found an old jar of one-a-day multi vitamins- did the same thing with it, and will do a wacky experiment with some plants- Hey- if it's good for people- must be good for plants-?
Well, I just never grew a tomato that had a muscle tissue, tendons, bones, livers, lungs, brains, hearts, blood, digestive tracts, etc. ... so I fail to understand the connection between human vitamin supplements and plant nutrition.
I was just having fun- I figured it can't hurt to do some experiments with the stuff. I do know that plant starter solution is nothing but B vitamins, so there can't be too much difference. Please don't take me too seriously- I like to enjoy doing things-
OK- I goofed- root stimulator does have other ingredients in it. I guess I need to be more careful in posting. Forgive me-
Hemo, I have been posting quite often, mostly in veggie & herb forums. I really enjoy the banter, and the info.
Years ago I placed an old calcium pill in the hole for each tomato plant. I grew only Celebrities that year and don't remember what my conclusion was. I know it couldn't have been extremely effective or I'd have remembered that and crowed about discovering the cure for BER. It may have helped and surely didn't hurt.
Soil tests show my soil has excess levels of magnesium so I do not use Epsom Salts. From what I've read this isn't very common but there are areas of Connecticut known for it and I'm in one of them. Seems odd to me because we have typical CT soil in every other respect. Very low levels of K and P.