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Epsom Salts, Vinegar, Mushrooms
November 01, 2002
By Howard Garrett

Q1. Is there any truth to the story that mixing Epsom salts with fertilizer will enhance greening a lawn? – E.V., Dallas

A1. Yes, if your soil is efficient in sulfur and magnesium. Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate. When you are first building the soil health from dead dirt, Epsom salt is often a good addition. Use it dry at ˝ lb. per 100 square feet or spray or drench at 1 ounce per gallon of water.

Q2. Other than old-fashioned elbow grease (or a tiller), is there any mixture or substance that can be distributed over hard soil to soften it? – E.V., Dallas

A2. Every part of the organic program will mellow the soil, soften it and make it more fertile. Start with a spray of Medina and follow with an application of dry molasses at 10 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. Those two materials will get all started. Then compost, rock powders and organic fertilizers can do their long term jobs.

Q. How long does vinegar stay in the soil and are there any long-term effects? Is it ok to use in the garden to kill weeds? How long should you wait to replant? – S.J., Dallas

A. I just received a related question about using grass killed with vinegar or not in the compost pile. The answer to both is the same. No problem. Vinegar, with its low pH and many trace minerals is good for the soil and the compost pile. Compost tends to be on the alkaline side and our black and white soils certainly are. Even acid soil won’t be injured by the vinegar unless it is grossly overused.

Q. This might be too late due to the weather change, but for the last 2 months I’ve had a bad mushroom problem in my back yard. A month ago, I put a fungicide on the lawn and I didn’t see any progress for 1˝ weeks. Then they started to subside, but I don’t know if that was because of the weather change. I then talked with a lawn care person and they informed me that I had “stuff” in the lawn that was decaying and was causing the mushrooms to grow along with the wet and warm weather. Is this correct? I use a mulching mower so I can see how the grass might be the decaying issue. Is there something that I can put on the lawn in mid summer that would break down the grass faster so that I can avoid the mushroom issue? D.H., Dallas

A. Your lawn care guy is right. Mushrooms or toadstools are just the fruiting bodies of the fungus that is breaking down organic matter in the soil. Grass clippings aren’t the culprits. Under an organic fertilization program this material breaks down into humus very quickly to become the natural fertilizer for the soil and turf. What’s more likely the source is old lumber or dead tree roots. Toadstools, unless you eat them, don’t hurt anything but can be killed quickly with a spray of potassium bicarbonate, which is an organic fungus control. Mix it with compost tea to get some additional fertilizer value.
Q1. Is there any truth to the story that mixing Epsom salts with fertilizer will enhance greening a lawn? – E.V., Dallas

A1. Yes, if your soil is efficient in sulfur and magnesium. Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate. When you are first building the soil health from dead dirt, Epsom salt is often a good addition. Use it dry at ˝ lb. per 100 square feet or spray or drench at 1 ounce per gallon of water.

Q2. Other than old-fashioned elbow grease (or a tiller), is there any mixture or substance that can be distributed over hard soil to soften it? – E.V., Dallas

A2. Every part of the organic program will mellow the soil, soften it and make it more fertile. Start with a spray of Medina and follow with an application of dry molasses at 10 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. Those two materials will get all started. Then compost, rock powders and organic fertilizers can do their long term jobs.

Q. How long does vinegar stay in the soil and are there any long-term effects? Is it ok to use in the garden to kill weeds? How long should you wait to replant? – S.J., Dallas

A. I just received a related question about using grass killed with vinegar or not in the compost pile. The answer to both is the same. No problem. Vinegar, with its low pH and many trace minerals is good for the soil and the compost pile. Compost tends to be on the alkaline side and our black and white soils certainly are. Even acid soil won’t be injured by the vinegar unless it is grossly overused.

Q. This might be too late due to the weather change, but for the last 2 months I’ve had a bad mushroom problem in my back yard. A month ago, I put a fungicide on the lawn and I didn’t see any progress for 1˝ weeks. Then they started to subside, but I don’t know if that was because of the weather change. I then talked with a lawn care person and they informed me that I had “stuff” in the lawn that was decaying and was causing the mushrooms to grow along with the wet and warm weather. Is this correct? I use a mulching mower so I can see how the grass might be the decaying issue. Is there something that I can put on the lawn in mid summer that would break down the grass faster so that I can avoid the mushroom issue? D.H., Dallas

A. Your lawn care guy is right. Mushrooms or toadstools are just the fruiting bodies of the fungus that is breaking down organic matter in the soil. Grass clippings aren’t the culprits. Under an organic fertilization program this material breaks down into humus very quickly to become the natural fertilizer for the soil and turf. What’s more likely the source is old lumber or dead tree roots. Toadstools, unless you eat them, don’t hurt anything but can be killed quickly with a spray of potassium bicarbonate, which is an organic fungus control. Mix it with compost tea to get some additional fertilizer value.
 
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