We’re slowly heading into fall, but those cooler temperatures are still a while off. If your garden is looking a little sun-baked, we’ve got just the right treatments to give them a bit of emergency Tender Loving Care. And now is a great time to get your garden ready for fall by guarding against weeds. First up: a Summer Tonic for heat-stressed plants.
Summer Tonic Recipe
This recipe is from Angela Chandler, a member of the Harris County Master Gardener Association. You can read her blog here. Angela’s summer tonic is a combination of Epsom salt, liquid seaweed (kelp), and SuperThrive®. She wrote …
Despite the name, Epsom salt is not a sodium salt like table salt, but rather a source of the minerals magnesium and sulfur. Gardeners have used Epsom salt for decades, and it has many uses in the garden. Magnesium plays a crucial role in photosynthesis – the process by which the plant converts light energy into chemical (food) energy.
Seaweed (kelp) provides roughly 60 trace minerals plus amino acids and enzymes. It enhances root development, stimulates microbial activity, and promotes the production of auxins (natural plant growth hormones). SUPERthrive® is a combination of vitamins and plant hormones. It is not a stand-alone fertilizer but can be added to fertilizers. It is well known to reduce transplant shock.
- 5 gallons of water
- ⅔ cup liquid seaweed
- ⅔ cup Epsom salt
- 1 tablespoon SUPERthrive®
The ⅔ cups are based on a recommended application rate of 2 tablespoons per gallon of water – ⅓ cup is 5⅓ tablespoons. If the products you use recommend more or less, adjust as required. You can substitute Garrett juice for the liquid seaweed, but you will need to increase the amount to 1¼ cup per 5 gallons. Garrett juice includes compost tea and horticultural molasses as well as seaweed.
Water your plants thoroughly the day before application. Then apply the tonic as a drench, wetting the root zone of the plant. You will use ½ to 1 gallon for shrubs, and less for perennials, vegetables, and bedding plants. It will take several days to see results. How often to apply depends on how stressed the plant is, how long the heat lasts, and the general health of the plant in the first place. Container plants may benefit from using this tonic weekly, but if you choose to do this, dilute it by half with water. This follows the “weakly, weekly” practice and can keep easily stressed plants, like root-bound ferns, happy through the summer.
With any supplement, there is a tendency to think that if a little is good, more is better. We have to remember, however, that any excess we apply can leach out of the soil and end up in the watershed. It is best to apply conservative solutions on a regular basis rather than a large amount all at once.
More Immediate TLC Treatments
Humic/Fulvic Acid Complex
- Feeds the beneficial microbes that live in the soil
- As positive microbes increase, the soil becomes restructured to support plants better
Humic/Fulvic Acid Complex stimulates root growth, provides over 47 minerals, promotes more efficient absorption of minerals by the plants through the roots and leaves, removes salts and toxins, loosens clay soils allowing more oxygen flow, increases the soil CEC (nutrient capacity) and buffers pH.
- Provides a quick stimulation to plants when applied during their growing season
- A way to get nutrients absorbed into the leaves and roots by applying directly to the plant
Molasses also contains protein, B Vitamins, and many minerals i.e.: Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, and Copper. Molasses is a great food source for beneficial soil bacteria and will help remediate salts and toxins from the soil. And if you have pest insects that cycle in the soil like Fungal Gnats, Thrips, and Mealy Bugs; Molasses will do a great job of wiping them out.
Prepare for Weeds
The autumn season is no time to fall down when it comes to controlling and pre-treating weed pressure. And for southern lawns, the turn toward Labor Day provides little respite, with fickle weather patterns requiring a studied game plan.
The best time to control perennial broadleaf weeds is in the early fall, rather than waiting until spring because you’ll get more active ingredients into the roots.
Prepping for autumn isn’t predicated on herbicides alone. Rather, your preemergence plan should combine applications with a review of spring data, along with the study of irrigation systems, shaded areas, and mowing heights.
Contact us at Sterling Design & Landscape Resources to talk with one of our experienced landscape designers. We can help you find the right plan for your landscape, and ensure your garden is weed-free, healthy, and vibrant.