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During my garden visit, Anthony mentioned that a number of my plants were likely suffering from boron deficiency.  While googling I found this really fantastic website that shows pictures of each deficiency on tomato leaves.

http://4e.plantphys.net/printer.php?ch=5&id=289

The first thing to check is your pH as this can affect what is available to the plant. 

For short term emergency solutions is it okay to use the following, and what other alternatives are there available?

Potassium - Potash
Boron - Borax
Magnesium  - Epsom Salts
Calcium - Gypsum
Nitrogen - Fish

As a side note, my mother is totally convinced that there is two different sorts of Epsom Salts and the one at the supermarket is not to be used on gardens... has anyone else heard this?  I use that one all the time for my paw paws and it even says on the packet it is used as a fertiliser!

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Replies to This Discussion

I found this article interesting and useful to read about Plant Nutrition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_nutrition

Boron Deficiency - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boron_deficiency_%28plant_disorder%29
'Boron (B) deficiency is an uncommon disorder affecting plants growing in deficient soils and is often associated with areas of high rainfall and leached soils. Boron may be present but locked up in soils with a high pH, and the deficiency may be worse in wet seasons.'
Here's a website I found quite informative, the pics at the bottom look familiar! Especially the cucumbers!
http://www.agnet.org/library/bc/51006/
A lightbulb fleshes when Anthony commented about the boron deficiency on Donna's curl okra ... but it didn't come on bright... after reading the comments on Addy's okra photo it just dawn on me that it was all my beans which were curly.. I don't know whether it is boron deficiency for my beans, but after googling images on deficiency now I seem to think there's deficiency everywhere!! Most of these minerals are available in the seasol productI sometime use... obviously not often enough as they suggest fornightly application and my plants are lucky to get a light spray once a month...guess I will have to do it more often... or it could be my PH.. I've got to do some PH tests!! Still haven't done them!
Epsom Salts are Epsom Salts - magnesium sulphate - but there's degrees of purity. You can use any kind, the cheaper the better, on the garden. If you wanted to take therapeutic doses then err on the side of caution and pay the extra at the chemist. Check the Wiki entry, it tells you more than you might want to know about it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epsom_salts
wow after looking at those pics lol, i think i had all of those lol.
so its best to give tomatoes all of these potassium, boron, mag, cal, nitro. better safe then sorry lol.
that would be a good feeding menu for tomatoes, i spose?
No, pretty sure usually they are available in the soil and a deficiency is a sign your ph is wrong. In saying that I add calcium as a matter of course for plants susceptible to blossom end rot, and feed with fish/ seaweed... when I remember lol!
yes i think so, it's usually pH. if you've added seaweed, manure, compost and dolomite it's unlikely you'll need anything else. most things are only required in very small amounts. mineral and trace deficiencies are unusual unless you do weird stuff like hydroponics (no soil).

it's usually NPK or pH, or just a traumatised plant (dried out, too hot, transplant shock etc)

unless it's legumes, in which case it can be failure to grow proper root bacteria required for normal plant growth (due in this case to texture of soil, not content of soil - needs more air)
Now whats NPK again........did we already have a chat on that?
N = Nitrogen
P = phosphorous
K = Potassium

Fundamental elements which plants requires.. you get N & P from blood & bone, and Potassium from potash.. although some gardening product brands have added Potassium to their blood & bone range...
ok after getting confused with all these names. (get to the shop and they name even more names, that can help plants lol)
I have with my ph kit thingy........its says limestone reduces PH and sulphate of ammonia increse PH?
but these names ant on any of your answers?

or is suphate ammonia the same as the epsom salts?

I didnt do science......i didnt do school lol.

are any of these the same? and do the same thing lol.
One never realise how important science and maths are at school until one get into hobbies like this huh?

Anyways, I've never had to lower PH before as generally we have acidic soil... as in low PH.. so I did not pay attention to it, but thought you can use sulphur dust (yellow powder you can get from produce stores), and mulch with pine needles.

Also, I thought it's the other way around which limestones increases PH (alkaline), and sulphate of ammonia reduces it (Acidic). You can use agriculatural/garden lime, or concrete to make your soil more alkaline, but it's not a quick process though...

Sulphate ammonia is not the same as epsom salt (Magnesium sulphate)... I think Sulphate ammonia is the one which is used as a Nitrogen fertilizer, and don't think it's very good for the environment either due to possible nitrogen leeching.. I could be wrong though..
The pH of your soil is the key here, what does your pH Kit say your soil is? Make sure that you take a few readings and that the soil is wet when you take it.

The most important thing is to correct your soil pH if it is out. If it is too low (5) you need to add limestone but if it is too high (8) rather than sulphur, it is recommended to use fertiliser. (http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~blpprt/lowerpH.html).

It is possible that I have high pH because of adding mushroom compost. This is made from chicken manure and straw, and the chicken manure has probably had excessive limestone added to neutralise the smells.

If you have plants already suffering from a particular problem and your pH is between 5.5 and 7.0 then you can feed that particular element into the soil... BUT it is probably too late for that plant anyway and may have been caused by stress (not enough water?) so I wouldn't go out and buy anything just yet.

Rewritten a bit but plagarised from here: http://www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/pubs/oh34.htm

* For most plants, the optimum pH range is from 5.5 to 7.0.
* Soil pH is important because it influences several soil factors affecting plant growth, such as (1) soil bacteria, (2) nutrient leaching, (3) nutrient availability, (4) toxic elements, and (5) soil structure.
* Bacterial activity that releases nitrogen from organic matter and certain fertilizers is particularly affected by soil pH, because bacteria operate best in the pH range of 5.5 to 7.0.
* Plant nutrients leach out of soils with a pH below 5.0 much more rapidly than from soils with values between 5.0 and 7.5.
* Plant nutrients are generally most available to plants in the pH range 5.5 to 6.5.

I have copied the following chart from this site - which also has a lot of good information: http://organicgarden.org.uk/?page_id=2387


Along the bottom, the numbers represent the pH of your soil.

Note: Not all plants require all of these elements to be fully available

If your soil is at a pH of 5.5, you can see that most of the elements are not fully available to the plant

If your soil is at a pH of 7.0, you can see that most of the elements are available to be taken up by the plant... although manganese and iron are a bit less than full.

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