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General information and discussion about cultivating peppers.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1
b54red
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Default Epsom salt and ashes?

I have been frustrated for years with bell peppers making a few large bells early on and then reverting to making mostly small fruits for the rest of the season. I have tried lots of things to improve production and some have definitely increased the number of peppers I have been getting but what I tried this year seems to have made a significant difference in the size. Of course now that it is very late in the season some of my older bells that were set out in March are not making any very large peppers but they are making peppers larger than in the past this late in the season.

What I have been doing is sprinkling some Epsom salts along with ashes from my charcoal grill around each plant every few weeks and then fertilizing it in with Miracle Grow or Urban Farms Vegetable formula or Texas Tomato Food. Since my soil sample shows my soil high in magnesium I didn't think this would do much good but the results have been surprisingly positive. I have made far more large fruits this year than any year in the past and the plants have continued to make larger than normal fruits for much longer. I also removed some of the suckers that formed and kept the plants to a limited number of main stems. I have done that in the past and it does help the size a bit but down here where the sun is so hot you have to be careful to leave enough suckers to give the fruits some good leaf cover.

I don't know if this will work again and again but I am definitely going to try it again next year. I just hope the over use of Epsom salt doesn't have a deleterious affect on other crops in the future. I have also been adding some of the ashes to other crops and it seems that they are producing somewhat larger fruit this fall. Since potash is always leaching from the soil I see no downside to using more of it in the future. I emptied my ash container around my peppers yesterday afternoon and sprinkled Epsom salt around them and will be fertilizing it in this morning with Vegetable formula for probably the last time this season.

Has anyone else tried either or both of these products on bell peppers and what results did you get?

Bill
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #2
SQWIBB
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I dont use miracle grow or epsom salts but I do use Bio-char and ashes all the time. I have been happy with the results but not sure why. I do use many other methods in my garden and it seems to be getting even better every year but every now and then I do something stupid that sets me back, like set out peppers to early and they become stunted.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #3
brownrexx
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Wood ash will raise the pH of soil and can inhibit the growth of seedlings due to the high mineral content. They also add a lot of calcium which you do not want in excess.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #4
Whwoz
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Ah, but if as in the case of b54red, your soils are high in magnesium, having the extra calcium would help balance that. B54red it maybe worth doing a pH check on your soil to see what it is as this will help give you a better idea as to what maybe happening in your soil.

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Wood ash will raise the pH of soil and can inhibit the growth of seedlings due to the high mineral content. They also add a lot of calcium which you do not want in excess.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #5
brownrexx
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Too much calcium will not only raise the pH but it will bind to other elements like phosphorus and make them unavailable to plants.

Any mineral in excess is not usually a good thing.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #6
Whwoz
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Could not agree more brownrexx, ideally a soil test by a reputable lab would allow the best fertilising routine to balance out low or high minerals, pH etc
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
b54red
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I haven't done a good soil test recently because the past few have shown my soil was very high in phosphorus and slightly too low in potash. They also showed an elevated ph which I have brought down to a very good range in the last few years. Now that my ph is in a good range I plan to have a thorough soil test soon. Despite what my soil test have shown my garden has performed and produced at an astonishing rate with some improvement with the lowering of the ph.

Over the past 20 or so years it has been an increasingly difficult problem raising my K levels as they seem to lower each and every year. I have used greensand, commercial potash and fertilizers with higher K values yet my potassium levels never get to above the low amount when soil tests are done. I know it leaches out with rain and we do get a fair amount most of the year and I have nothing but raised beds which may account for more leaching from rain and watering. The wood ashes seemed to me to be a good way to get a decent amount of potash to the roots of existing plants quickly. Since peppers are the only plants to be receiving regular doses of the ashes and I will be rotating my beds for peppers each year maybe I won't have any problems but time will tell. I do know that greensand is extremely expensive and it takes a huge amount of it to get any results. The commercial high K fertilizers contain a lot of salts which I know are not good for plants long term. I'm hoping the ashes will be a happy medium to supplying some potassium to my peppers which obviously need it for maximum production.

I have not used the Epsom salts on anything but peppers and though my soil tests have shown plenty of magnesium the pepper plants must be receiving some benefit. I just have to believe my own eyes. Of course if I see any bad results from this experiment I will stop doing it but for now I think it deserves at least another season of trying it. Since I add peat and cottonseed meal to my beds every year and both are very low ph products maybe there will be no raising of the ph from the ashes.

Bill
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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
GoDawgs
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I've not tried the ashes but this fall I've been applying an Epsom salts drench around the base of each plant at the rate of 1TBS salts per gallon at the very scientific rate of five or six "glugs" from the jug per plant.
I also use use some Miracle Grow on them about every other week.

The peppers were spring-planted and the fruit seems to be somewhat larger than in the past. Coincidence?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDawgs View Post
I've not tried the ashes but this fall I've been applying an Epsom salts drench around the base of each plant at the rate of 1TBS salts per gallon at the very scientific rate of five or six "glugs" from the jug per plant.
I also use use some Miracle Grow on them about every other week.

The peppers were spring-planted and the fruit seems to be somewhat larger than in the past. Coincidence?
The pour spouts that come with the 1/2 gallon jugs of whisky and so on are very accurate when you count and pour like at the bar.
You can also get the spouts at most stores that sell that sort of thing.
Done it for years watering starter plants with fertilizer.
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