When I read The Secret Garden I was a bit disappointed. The title was misleading, if you ask me. (This coming from a guy who named his blog the Smartest Garden?). I didn’t get any gardening tips from it at all!
We all like hearing a good gardening secret that can take our planting a to the next level. Here’s a twofer. Mine is a secret weapon against weeds in your driveway cracks and also a killer booster shot tomatoes and peppers. Epsom salt.
Part 1: Weed Killer
My friend Nancy suggested I try recipe she found online that seemed to work well without harsh chemicals. Here it is below:
- 1 Gallon white vinegar
- 2 cups multi purpose epsom salt
- 1/4 cup regular blue Dawn dish soap*
(*Any soap liquid soap will do. Soap helps the solution stick to the weeds. And if you’re worried about Dawn, you shouldn’t be washing your dishes with it.)
Mix the ingredients in a large tank sprayer (I prefer one that can make a two gallon batch), and give those bad weeds a good soaking. You’ll notice results within 24 hours. The weeds will begin to brown and shrivel up. Within 72 hours, they’re practically dust.
Why It Works:
Vinegar will cause the soil pH around the weed to become acid and at the same time deplete the soil of magnesium — an essential element to growing healthy plants. So, Epsom salts is an excellent source of magnesium and helps restore what vinegar takes away. Some gardeners think dish soap has weed-killing properties, so by combining vinegar and this soap makes it work twice as well. Also the soap helps the solution stick to the weeds.
Smart Tip 1: Be sure to label your tank sprayer: “Human-Friendly Weed Killer” and only use it for this recipe. This especially helps if you let your kids spray this particular concoction on the weeds… so the neighbors don’t think you’re bonkers letting your kids use dangerous chemicals. It also helps keep your sprayers straight in case you do use harmful chemicals in other applications.
Smart Tip 2: Don’t spray on a windy day. This is just as harmful to grass and other plants as weeds.
Smart Tip 3: It’s fun to cry out, “Die, weeds! Die!” as you’re spraying this stuff. Very cathartic.
Part 2: Tomato, Pepper, Rose Booster
Or add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to a gallon of warm water and use tank sprayer to apply the mix once a month substituting the spray for a regular watering. Use 1 tablespoon per gallon of water if you apply Epsom salt spray more often than once a month. Begin foliar spraying when blooms first appear.
From Wikipedia: Foliar feeding is a technique of feeding plants by applying liquid fertilizer directly to their leaves. Plants are able to absorb essential elements through their leaves. The absorption takes place through their stomata and also through their epidermis.
Why it works:
Epsom Salt is basically Magnesium Sulfate two minerals your plants love. Magnesium is believed to bring more flowers and fruit to your garden, more bounty as well as more beauty. Sulfate aides in the production of chlorophyll. It joins with the soil to make key nutrients more effective for plants, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Sulfate works in conjunction with Magnesium to create a booster shot full of minerals, nourishment and health benefits for your garden.
Side-dressing is more than just requesting a monkey bowl of ranch for your french fries at Perkins… To side-dress vegetable plants, you apply fertilizer to the soil on or around the sides of the plant. Work 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt per foot of plant height around the base of each plant at least 4 inches away from plant stems. Rake the salt into the soil and then water. Side-dress plants every six weeks beginning soon after leaves appear and continuing through the end harvest.
Where It’s At:
This is a great price for premium U.S.P Pharmaceutical Grade Epsom Salt on Amazon. You get almost 20 lbs and just about qualify for free shipping (just buy a book and you’re there)! It’s the best price for the highest quality!