Godless in the garden


Godless in the garden

Discussing all aspect of gardening.

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Comment by Daniel W on July 22, 2017 at 4:31pm

BB, I use 1/4 cup Epsom salts in 2 gallon watering can, water over about 25 square feet in garden bed or around tree.  I buy it in either the laxative section at Fred Meyer, or the bath salts section.  The laxative version seems less adulterated and cheaper.

Comment by Daniel W on July 22, 2017 at 4:25pm

Paragraph below should read, dont use if soil is dry, not oil.  My bad proof reading.

Comment by Daniel W on July 22, 2017 at 4:23pm

Thomas, I dont discuss pee-cycling much any more because on another website, a gardening site, people were so worked up and grossed out about it, and one guy said he would contact the dept of health, so I quit that website. I actually dont think there is any health issue about peecycling, especially for trees.  I understand the concern, however, because if you let someone use their own pee in their own country garden, next thing you know people will let their dogs pee outside all over town, then farmers will let their cows and pigs pee out in the fields, and soon bears and bisen will pee in the wild.  In town and city, I do understand the concern, but I am in the countryside.

What I will say is this.  The main component of urine, other than water, is urea nitrogen, which is used in many-ton amounts as fertilizer across America.  If the urine sits a while, the urea converts to ammonia, which is still a good nitrogen fertilizer.  Most websites state use it 1 part urine plus 10 parts water.  Some use 1 part urine plus 5 part water.  They use that in a watering can, spread over approx 10 feet by 10 feet area, so about 100 square feet.  Dont use if oil is dry.  After adding to soil, water in a little with equal amont of water.  For trees, added nitrogen should be in late winter, spring, and maybe early summer.  You dont want to boost new green growth in late summer or fall, that will be too tender to survive freezing.   In high salts soils, urine has too much salt and can harm plants.  Dont use on leafy crops, but sweet corn responds well to a nitrogen boost.  Fish fertilizer diluted per instruction on label gives similar nitrogen boost.

Comment by Joan Denoo on July 22, 2017 at 4:14pm

Daniel, I agree, each bed could have a different test; even a large garden can have different soil content. 

Wonderful news about your use of epsom salts and the effects. With your pee to add lively nitrogen, you have a winning combination. Your photos give us rich evidence. Surely would like to sit in your sunroom with you, Ning, Charlie and a plate of fresh fruits and vegetables. That would be about as close to heaven as I can imagine. 

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on July 22, 2017 at 4:06pm

Daniel - what kind of concentration of the epsom salts do you use? Or how much? (Do you dissolve it in water first?)

Comment by Daniel W on July 22, 2017 at 4:00pm

Joan, thank you for the great information and reminder.

I gave Epsom salts to a number of my plants and trees this year.  The mulberry and persimmon leaves were yellowish and somewhat distorted during previous years.  My soil test did point out deficiencies in calcium and magnesium.  There is plenty of potassium and phosphorus, and organic matter.  Last year I added lime for calcium and to buffer acidity pH 5.3 - to no discernable benefit.  This year I added Epsom salts.  Holy moly, the growth is so lush and amazing on those trees, with leaves rich, dark green.  I also gave a few doses to the onions.  Some of those are the size of grapefruits now, and so pungent!  I read the sulfur in Epsom salts would increase pungency.  My pepper plants are also more lush this year, after adding Epsom salts to their soil.

Some of the scientific literature states dont feed Epdon salts unless there is a known magnesium defiency.  However, I think unless it is a high mineral soil, it is ok to use.  You cant test every bed and every container, so it is a judgement call.

Comment by Joan Denoo on July 22, 2017 at 3:50pm

Daniel, thanks for your information on "The Garden of Herbivores." We have a nice chart now that I didn't have before your wrote of your  pests. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on July 22, 2017 at 3:35pm

Thomas, excellent question

Fertilize with Epsom Salts

"Chemically, Epsom salts is hydrated magnesium sulfate (about 10 percent magnesium and 13 percent sulfur). Magnesium is critical for seed germination and the production of chlorophyll, fruit, and nuts. Magnesium helps strengthen cell walls and improves plants' uptake of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.

"Sulfur, a key element in plant growth, is critical to production of vitamins, amino acids (therefore protein), and enzymes. It's also the compound that gives vegetables such as broccoli and onions their flavors. Sulfur is seldom deficient in garden soils in North America because acid rain and commonly used animal manures contain sulfur, as do chemical fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate.

"The causes and effects of magnesium deficiencies vary. Vegetables such as beans, peas, lettuce, and spinach can grow and produce good yields in soils with low magnesium levels, but plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and roses need high levels of magnesium for optimal growth. However, plants may not show the effects of magnesium deficiency until it's severe."

"Some common deficiency symptoms are yellowing of the leaves between the veins, leaf curling, stunted growth, and lack of sweetness in the fruit."


"When diluted with water, and especially when applied as a foliar spray, Epsom salts can be taken up quickly by plants. Epsom salts' magnesium content, high solubility, and ease of application as a foliar spray are the main reasons for the positive results many gardeners see in their plants."


"Four out of the six testers reported that the Epsom salts-treated pepper plants and fruits were larger than the controls. For the treated roses, testers reported greener foliage, bushier plants, and more roses than on the control plants."

"Before you try Epsom salts, test the soil to determine its magnesium content. Don't rely on Epsom salts to correct large soil magnesium deficiencies, but rather use it as a supplement to soils with adequate or slightly low magnesium levels to boost plant growth, flowering, and fruiting. For severely magnesium-deficient soils, use dolomitic lime or Sul-Po-Mag. Foliar applications of Epsom salts seem work better than adding it, dry or mixed with water, directly to the soil. Plants may not efficiently take up magnesium sulfate in granular form, especially in alkaline soils or soils that already test high in potassium, calcium, or magnesium. If you have tested your soil and know it has those qualities, a foliar application is a faster way to get the nutrients to the plant."


Epsom salts works best on soils that are...

  • Slightly deficient in magnesium
  • Alkaline (show high pH) as in western areas
  • Old, "weathered," and acidic (with low pH) soils of the Southeast and Pacific Northwest
  • High in calcium and potassium (western soils)

~ Charlie Nardozzi is a senior horticulturist at National Gardening.

Comment by Thomas Murray on July 22, 2017 at 2:54pm


What is the purpose of the Epson salt spray on plants?

Comment by Thomas Murray on July 22, 2017 at 2:50pm

... I think it was Daniel who mentioned to use human urine to water his plants. So I am wondering if the same method can be used for fruit trees? So...Daniel?... or everybody else?


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