The Roundup -

Debunking The Epsom Salt Myth


Gardening is an opportunity to grow fresh produce in your back yard, which is a real treat during the summer. Over the years, gardeners have little tips and tricks that will help them get the biggest yields for the respective plant. One trick that is used is Epsom salt to prevent blossom end rot, well it is time to debunk that myth.

Epsom salt doesn't stop blossom end rot- it can lead to more of it. Blossom end rot is caused by a deficiency of calcium, Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate- no calcium at all. When you add Epsom salt to the soil, that may increase the chance of rot since magnesium and calcium ions will then compete for uptake into the plant. The more manganese that is in the soil, the less chance that the needed calcium will be absorbed. Some things that gardeners can do to prevent blossom end rot are; don't focus on the soil, most soils in North Dakota have plenty of calcium.

What gardeners need to focus on is the watering, the uptake of the already there calcium is controlled by the water uptake. With that being said, watering regularly is important. Having water logged soils or drought soils can encourage blossom end rot to show up, mulch can help maintain consistent levels of moisture. Cultivate shallowly, don't damage the roots of your plant, we need these roots do absorb calcium.

Another important item is to avoid over fertilization, especially with ammoniacal nitrogen fertilizers (such as 10-10-10 fertilizers) choosing a calcium nitrate is a better choice, as the complete fertilizers will compete with the needed calcium. The vines should be green, but not lush, as the lush vines will take the calcium before the plant can send it to the fruit. Calcium sprays might help, or they might not. Mix four tablespoons of calcium nitrate per gallon of water. Spray fruits, not leaves, two to three times a week. The key time is when the tomatoes are dime-sized or smaller. This information was gathered from the June 8th publication of the North Dakota State University Yard & Garden Report.


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