It is no secret at all that soaking in a hot bath to which Epsom salt has been added is soothing to sore muscles and minor cuts and scrapes. It also is no mystery that spending a day working in the garden can result in sore muscles, minor cuts, and scrapes. Thus, it is easily seen that there can be a strong connection between Epsom salt and gardening. However, there is an even stronger connection: Epsom salt is great for the garden, directly.
About Epsom salt
We aren’t talking about using Epsom salt to relieve the sore muscles plants might have, of course. Plants don’t have muscles. However, Epsom salt is a naturally occurring, inorganic mineral that is more properly known as magnesium sulfate. This substance is exceptionally useful for the garden.
It should be explained that “organic” simply means that a substance contains carbon. This is why many foods that are sold as organic have been exposed to man-made chemicals but still carry the ‘organic’ label. If the chemical contains carbon, it is organic, by definition.
Epsom salt is found in nature, though. Man refines it from certain rocks, but he generally doesn’t create it in a laboratory somewhere. It is inorganic because it contains no carbon. It contains magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.
Epsom salt as a fertilizer
As it happens, garden plants need magnesium and sulfur. This gives Epsom salt a valuable use as a fertilizer, particularly for plants that are heavy users of magnesium, like tomatoes and peppers.
Sprinkling one or two tablespoons of Epsom salt around the base of the plants every couple of weeks strengthens the plants, makes them grow bushier, and causes the root systems to be more robust.
Epsom salt foliar spray
Mixing a cupful of Epsom salt to five gallons of water and then using this to spray the leaves of plants has even faster results. The leaves of the plants are able to absorb the nutrients directly. Spraying the mixture on rose bushes can cause the plants to become bushier, which usually means that they end up healthier, with more flowers that are exceptionally fragrant. This is true of other plants, too.
Using this foliar spray on tomato plants normally results in far healthier plants and more tomato fruits. The fact is that it is difficult to find garden crops or houseplants that don’t benefit from Epsom salt spray.
Since the plants will only use the amount of sulfur and magnesium that they need, there isn’t even a concern about applying too much. What makes it even better is that if you use Epsom salt to soak tired muscles, scrapes, or minor cuts, you can then use the resultant ‘gray water’ as a foliar spray. Talk about getting as much use out of it as you can!
One warning, though. Don’t spray the plants during the heat of the day, when the sun is shining brightly. This can sunburn the leaves because water acts to intensify the rays of sunlight. The spray is best applied in the early morning or late in the day.
Epsom salt as a pesticide
Just when you think that it couldn’t get much better, it does. Epsom salt is a good pesticide to use, particularly against infestations of slugs and snails. It works well both as a foliar spray or used in crystal form. This is because slugs and snails usually live in a moisture-rich environment and the Epsom salt causes them to dehydrate.
Not enough scientific study has been done yet, however, I can personally testify about how well Epsom salt can eliminate a slug infestation. I’ve also used it as a foliar spray to get rid of aphids.
The connection between Epsom salt and the garden is far stronger than most home gardeners think. It is great for relieving the pain of sore, stiff muscles. It helps with minor cuts and scrapes. It is a wonderful fertilizer. It helps to control insect pests. If you are a home gardener, do you use Epsom salt to help your plants?