A few weeks ago I did a post on gardening with baking soda. I recently came across more clever organic gardening tips using common household products – charcoal and Epsom salts. Read on….
And yes, I’m talking about the charcoal you’ll barbeque with this Memorial Day, as long as it’s additive-free (natural hardwood charcoal, not briquettes)!
1. Activated carbon and water remove pesticides from the soil. This is good to know if you are putting in a vegetable garden and are not sure if the area was treated with pesticides in the past. Combine 1 pound charcoal with 1 gallon water, transfer to a spray bottle and mist directly onto the soil. The charcoal/water combination absorbs the chemicals.
2. Use charcoal as mulch. It keeps the soil moist and deters weed growth. Anything that helps control weeds is worth a try! Simply break the charcoal into small chunks about an inch in diameter and sprinkle around the plants.
3. Charcoal helps cut flowers last longer. Put a charcoal chunk in the bottom of a vase to extend the freshness of the water and flowers.
Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate)
Like baking soda, Epsom salts is an economical and unbelievably diverse product. Throughout time, not only has it been used to treat a variety of human and animal ailments, but is has also been known as a great garden supplement, especially with organic gardeners.
Tomatoes, peppers and roses need high levels of magnesium for optimal growth and are particularly responsive to Epsom salts. Tomatoes are prone to magnesium deficiency later in the growing season and you’ll notice this with yellowing leaves. Epsom salts help with plant chlorosis in general, the loss of chlorophyll in the leaves, even your lawn’s yellowing leaves. According to the National Gardening Association, “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.”
Epsom salts enhance the soil’s and fertilizer’s capabilities in much the same way a gourmet salt enhances the flavor of food. Your houseplants, vegetables, herbs, (with the exception of sage – don’t ask me why), flowers, shrubs, trees and lawn will benefit from their application. You can either apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each plant or spray a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salts diluted in 1 gallon of water. As a foliar spray, it is taken up more quickly by the plants. Apply after the initial planting, about a month later when the plants begin to grow, and then one more time as the vegetable matures. For detailed information about specific plants, visit saltworks.us.
Another great property? Epsom salts also deter slugs!
Learn from the organic gardeners who consider Epsom salts a “secret ingredient” to a lush, bountiful and affordable garden.
Try both the charcoal and Epsom salts and let me know you think!
For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.
Information compiled from:
http://www.saltworks.us/gardening-with-epsom-salt.asp, http://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&id=68&page=3 and http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-surprising-uses-for-charcoal.html