Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

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.

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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I use seasol on my plants evey month -6 weeks and in the quantities it says on the packet. It might be best in smaller more consistant application. My tomartos in pot plants have iron deficiency according to the pictures. what do you use for iron deficiency? rusty nails?
Rusty nails are fine in the long term but you want something more immediate! Iron deficiency is usually caused by too-alkaline soil. Check the pH if you can. If not, look at the youngest leaves. If they are yellow with bright green veins, then it is an Iron deficiency. It might be there's enough iron in the soil, but the pH makes it impossible for the plant to make use of it. Anyway ... the short-term solution is to buy some Iron Chelate (or Chelated Iron) you can get it in small packets at a hardware or produce store or even a nursery. Mix according to directions and in a couple of days see the difference.

Fe is the chemical shorthand for Ferrum and it's often labelled as Fe, so you could be looking for 3 different names for the same substance.

If you want to change the soil pH from alkaline to a bit acid, it's no where near as simple as it is the other way around. You need Sulphur and the kind which will incorporate in the soil (a powder, not the little pellets). Peat moss is supposed to be another method but personally I never use it, it's not a sustainable industry. You can also use Hydrangea Bluing Agent which is some kind of Aluminium compound, not great for the soil micro-organisms I imagine.

When the tomatoes are finished, heave out the soil into your compost bin, replace with superior potting mix and as much of your own compost (or spent mushroom, compost but check the pH first) as you can and see what happens next time.
I was told that cardboard breaks down into boron, with worms.

If there's Boron in the cardboard first, though. Elements are entities which exist by themselves and cannot be made - there's the Periodic Table which lists all the elements. A copy of that would tell you what chemicals must exist first before they can be used. You read statements like 'Silverbeet contains Iron' - it might, if the ground it is grown on contains it first. And Boron is a form of Borax (or the other way around) you can buy it at the supermerket in the cleaning section. It is quite toxic when ingested and used in only tiny quantities for plants.

This is what I learned from a organic natural gardener. I am aware Borax can be purchased through shops. Cardboard is what the PCYC gardens recycle with and part of the goodness is the breakdown into Boron.


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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

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