Site Talk forum: NGA Epsom salts recommendation appears to be incorrect

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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 19, 2017 11:07 AM CST
A reference was posted in one of the forums to an article on sfgate that cites an NGA article on Epsom salts which recommends it for reducing blossom end rot.

Presumably this is the NGA page: https://garden.org/learn/artic...

"Test your soil every 3 years or so to check on nutrient levels. Epsom salts can keep plants greener and bushier, enhance production of healthier fruit later in the season, and potentially help reduce blossom-end rot ."

I looked at some scientific research references this morning and they actually suggest excessive magnesium can contribute to blossom end rot by interfering with calcium uptake.

The Garden Myths site says: "

"....More recently, scientists have had a closer look. It turns out that the problem (blossom end rot) is one of moving calcium around inside the plant, not necessarily a shortage........I don’t know why people keep recommending Epsom salts to solve problems–it’s just silly. Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate–it does not contain calcium! Blossom End Rot has nothing to do with a magnesium shortage". From:

http://www.gardenmyths.com/blo...

According to a Clemson article on blossom end rot ".....Extreme fluctuations in moisture, insufficient soil calcium, root pruning from nearby cultivation, and excessive ammoniacal (NH4 +) nitrogen, potassium, or magnesium fertilization can also increase the chances of blossom end rot, especially early in the season."

From:
http://www.clemson.edu/extensi...

Can we remove the phrase "potentially help reduce blossom-end rot" from the NGA page?



Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jun 19, 2017 11:15 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

The article opens that paragraph by stating that a magnesium deficiency is in view. I updated the paragraph just now to strengthen the point by changing the sentence to:

"Epsom salts can keep plants greener and bushier, enhance production of healthier fruit later in the season, and potentially help reduce blossom-end rot in magnesium-deficient soils."
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Jun 19, 2017 12:22 PM CST
Thanks Dave, although is there actually any evidence that you know of that indicates applying magnesium in a deficiency situation has a reducing effect on blossom end rot? I've just about gone cross-eyed searching the literature on Google Scholar and all I've found so far is that, as mentioned above, an excess of Mg increases the risk of BER. Low levels of Mg don't appear to be correlated with an increased incidence of BER as far as I can tell.

The other thing is that most people have no idea if their soil is deficient in Mg so could end up applying it anyway if they think it might reduce BER, and therefore potentially actually increase the risk. Unless there is evidence that Mg reduces BER in magnesium deficits, which I couldn't find, IMHO it would be safer to remove the suggestion that it does.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
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dave
Jun 19, 2017 12:55 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I haven't researched it as much as you have, Sue, and the article was written by someone else. (BTW Charlie Nardozzi is the author and he's well respected. I'd be surprised if he didn't do quite a bit of research on that article.)

I have enabled commenting on the articles. I'd highly recommend you start a thread on that article and post what you have found. If you do that, I will also make an edit to the article drawing attention to the thread. This will benefit any readers of the article.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Jun 19, 2017 1:36 PM CST
I'll try and put something together for that, Dave. Interestingly I found a book by Charlie Nardozzi online where he says BER is caused by fluctuating moisture levels, which ties in more with the research I found, he made no mention of Epsom salts.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 19, 2017 1:52 PM CST
Quoting from U of Maryland Extension on Epsom salts for BER:

“This is one of the big gardening myths. There is no calcium in Epsom salts. It’s magnesium sulfate. If anything, the Mg cations could compete with Ca cations for uptake by plant roots making blossom-end rot even worse"

https://extension.umd.edu/site...


Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 20, 2017 8:53 AM CST
I've added a comment to the article as Dave suggested.

When I was looking into this some more I also found an article by University of Minnesota Extension that seems to be citing the NGA article as a source of a "garden myth" about Epsom salts.

http://www.crowwingmastergarde...
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
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dave
Jun 20, 2017 9:00 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Thanks Sue, I updated the article!
Richmond TX (Zone 9a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
vossner
Feb 6, 2018 3:45 PM CST
The latest trend, and I say 'trend' b/c I see nothing written in blood, is that for residential gardeners, ES drenches or mixed into soil are useless. This just convinced me that gardening is like fishing, everybody has THE lure to catch fish, with little or no scientific support. I'm about convinced that if my plants are alive and well, I'm doing nothing wrong. And I certainly discard those recommendations that suggest the any one method or product is the only way to successful gardening. Nope, there's more than one way to skin a cat.
PS: TAMU data on the subject appears to be dated as I saw nothing more current than 2007. Save your ES for soothing baths.
[Last edited by vossner - Feb 10, 2018 9:25 AM (+)]
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Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
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ZenMan
Feb 7, 2018 3:05 PM CST
vossner said:...is that for residential gardeners, ES washes or mixed into soil are useless.

Epsom salts are Magnesium sulfate, and Magnesium is a vital component of chlorophyll. Plants cannot live without chlorophyll, and therefore cannot live without Magnesium. There can be circumstances in which applying supplemental Magnesium is appropriate.
vossner said:... there's more than one way to skin a cat.

But are any of them legal ???

ZM
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Feb 26, 2018 1:06 PM CST
Hear in Fresno California, for generations , we've used epsom salts for, better plants, bigger fruit, from niteshade vegetables, and better, bigger Roses.

Why ??? No one seems to know.
They say : " It works. "
And it does.

Last year ! After several member's jumped me for telling people to use it. I decided to Google : using epsom salts for fertilizer. Bang !!! Hurray! There it was 😀. There is an essential element or mineral in the soil, that is locked away from roots in the soil. The epsom salts, makes this element or mineral available for roots to uptake.

That satisfied me. "Old wife's tail's" are usually, TRUE 👍👍😀😀😀 !

Do I remember the trace element, or mineral. NOPE !!! Do I care, nope !!!! Do I remember artical I read, nope !!!
Do I still recommend epsom salts to people, Yep !!! Do I still get jumped on by some people, YEP !!!
DO I CARE GETTING JUMPED ON BY SOME PEOPLE, NOPE !!!


Ta ta Y'ALL 😀🕺
😎😎😎




Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Feb 26, 2018 2:38 PM CST
Think if a soil test shows that your soil is deficient in magnesium and sulpher it could help
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Feb 26, 2018 2:43 PM CST
Yep, and I'll jump on you again Philip Hilarious! As I and others have told you several times, Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for plants. It generally occurs naturally in the soil in sufficient amounts. Where it is not sufficient, you can add it as Epsom salts (although it's not the best way to add it). Since it's an essential plant nutrient, of course you will see a benefit if your soil does not naturally contain enough. That doesn't mean it will work equally well for everyone or in every situation, and in some cases it is potentially harmful (e.g. adding it can make blossom end rot of tomatoes worse, which is what this thread was about).

I'm pretty sure I've referred you to this article before, not that you care Hilarious! :

https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/...
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Feb 26, 2018 6:54 PM CST
Apparently !!!.......
Oh, never mind !
" Change a person's mind, against there will, there of the same thought still. "
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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Altheabyanothername
Apr 10, 2018 9:39 AM CST
Thought I would throw this out there. Epsom salts helps with sulfur which can be lacking (deficiency) especially in sandy soil in the south.

Just as heavy rain can rinse sulfur out of the soil...Think spring rain can wash out...Plants start growing...They need the sulfur to grow...People apply Epsom Salt in spring to aid plants.

Many blessings for a successful gardening year!
I prefer to walk in the light, I prefer a world where people want to be kind and bless each other, I prefer a God who loves and shares so much that he gave up his only Son for me. I prefer to choose the God of Abraham. Let there be peace and let it begin with me.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Apr 10, 2018 1:57 PM CST
If you need sulfur and not magnesium, you can just apply sulfur rather than magnesium sulfate.
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
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ZenMan
Apr 10, 2018 2:19 PM CST
sooby said:If you need sulfur and not magnesium, you can just apply sulfur rather than magnesium sulfate.

Or you could apply gypsum, which is calcium sulfate. Or you could apply potassium sulfate. Or ammonium sulfate.
Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
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fwmosher
Apr 11, 2018 2:01 PM CST
The original quotation should have been: Epsom salts can be sprayed on Tomatoes, and Peppers, to encourage existing blossoms and further blossoming! Nothing to do with blossom-end rot. I have I am certain, at least 10 vegetable gardening books attesting to same. No one knows how to prevent blossom-end rot, regardless of all the theories. Blame the winds-true!

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