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Alfalfa Pellets and Epsom Salt for Tomatoes? Toplef10Alfalfa Pellets and Epsom Salt for Tomatoes? 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Alfalfa Pellets and Epsom Salt for Tomatoes? I22gcj10Alfalfa Pellets and Epsom Salt for Tomatoes? 14dhcg10

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Alfalfa Pellets and Epsom Salt for Tomatoes?

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Alfalfa Pellets and Epsom Salt for Tomatoes? Empty Alfalfa Pellets and Epsom Salt for Tomatoes?

Post  Jjean59 1/31/2024, 12:44 pm

I'm in Montgomery AL and I've heard that using alfalfa pellets is good for adding around tomatoes (suppose it composes down and gives them some nitrogen) and to water in some epsom salts every few weeks is this necessary with Mel's mix?
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Post  OhioGardener 1/31/2024, 2:09 pm

Jjean59 wrote: is this necessary with Mel's mix?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is still "no", but it is a little more complicated. If the MM is made of a good blend of composts, neither of these amendments are needed. 

A. Alfalfa pellets or meal can be applied to soil at least two weeks before planting to increase the nitrogen levels, and to feed the microbial life. Earthworms also love alfalfa meal.  However, adding unnecessary sources of nitrogen can throw off the balance of the soil, causing other plant-available nutrients to become unavailable or in reduced quantities. Unless there is a nitrogen shortage in the MM, it is not advisable to add Alfalfa pellets or meal.  That said, adding alfalfa pellets or meal to the compost bin or tumbler can greatly speed up the composting process.

B. Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate, and can be used for soil deficient in magnesium or sulfur. However, too much magnesium will inhibit a plant's ability to absorb calcium, and sulfate salts can build up in soil.  Before considering adding Epsom Salt to the soil, one should test the soil to see if it is deficient in either Magnesium or Sulfur.  A word of caution: There are many articles about dissolving Epsom Salt in water and spraying on the plant leaves for rapid absorption of magnesium -- this can scorch the leaves and cause severe damage to the plant.

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Post  sanderson 2/1/2024, 12:24 pm

Jjean,  What OG wrote.  The short answer is no.

In SFG, we only use Mel's Mix which is 1/3 composts by volume.  We are not growing in the dirt.  Each growing season, we mix in enough real composts (composts with NO fillers such as sand, topsoil, peat, coir, wood fines/bark, perlite, etc.) to bring the height back up to where it started.  We don't add in anything that isn't already composted, except a bit of incidental material such as bits of straw mulch or a leaf or such.  These tiny bits will not affect the nutritiousness of the MM.  Compost is what feeds our plants through the action of microbes and roots.

Mel wrote that it is harder for a row gardener to SFG than for a new gardener to start off with SFG.  That is because the row gardener brings all the old gardening methods and "this is the way it's always been done" to the table.

The subject of fertilizer.  Is it ever used in SFG?  Only if the MM has been tested by an Ag lab that can test non-dirt growing medium and it is shown to be really lacking in a nutrient.  Most often it will be the Nitrogen, especially in rainy areas.  Nitrogen moves through soils easily, unlike phosphates that are very slow moving and can actually build up in the soil to toxic levels.  But, as OG mentioned, adding too much nitrogen (such as alfalfa pellets or blood meal) can throw off the balance of nutrients.

PS:  Never use a home test kit for nutrients or pH. The only home test kit that is even close to being in the ballpark is a moisture meter.  Dry - moist - wet.

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