The good word of the day for our gardens in SULFUR. You know the smelly chemical that smells like rotten eggs... yeah that one. As unpleasant that it might smell, it is of vital importance. I did a big long, in-depth discussion on the topic of Sulfur and went into the details and even discussed how Sulfur plays a major role in the development of GMOs and Glysopahte. I will touch on that aspect lightly here, but for more extensive perspectives on the ideas go to the blog section on Leiann's web site and read the full discussion there.
Sulfur is a very important mineral that your garden has to have. Before you plant, you will need to add some to your soil. It doesn't matter if you get a soil test or not, there is about a 99% chance that your soil is deficient as it is. If you overdo it a little bit too much it isn't a problem. Sulfur is very forgiving. Because of the deficiencies of Sulfur in almost all soils, your crops will be suffering. This type of suffering is what we refer to as "Placing limits on the genetic potential of the plant". We place these limits on the potential of a plant by not properly feeding the plant or in other words not giving the nourishment to the plant that it needs. In some aspects, this is essentially invoking"Selective starvation" on the plant. Most of the time this is done innocently or from a lack of knowledge.
Since you are pretty much well on your way of getting the deed done as to starting your garden, you can still do some things to ensure a successful outcome for your garden plants. In this segment, we are looking at Sulfur. In the past, a Sulfur deficiency was almost unknown. But because of removing many of the sources of natural replenishment we now need to supplement the need for Sulfur. I did a review of the former sources in the Sulfur discussion, so you can reference that if you desire more in-depth understanding of this part. Sulfur is a mineral that is used up fairly quickly and at the levels that your soil should contain, it will not carry over but can leach out if not used up. But as the levels go down, then you will see some carry-over. For the most part, you will want to have your soil at about a 15 PPM amount. Depending on which type of Sulfur you use, you will have to follow the label amount to get an idea of how much to use to make this target amount. For the most part, everyone will try to get you to use Elemental Sulfur. You should only used this type in the fall of the year. The reason why is because it takes a while for it to break down and convert to a useable form of Sulfur, which is Sulfate. Usually, it will take at least 6 weeks to make the breakdown and conversion from Elemental to Sulfate. So if that one is used and you expect quick results, you won't see any. So to be safe, use Elemental Sulfur in the fall, then it can work all winter, and then it will be ready to work for you come the following spring. So to get quick results, use Ammonium Sulfate. This also contains Nitrogen. Since NItrogen is needed anyway for plant growth, this will be helpful and in order for Nitrogen to breakdown to useful forms, you need Sulfur, so all goes well. I am sure that you have heard of using Epsom salts on gardens and people that have done this swears by it. Simply, Epsom Salt is Magnesium and Sulfur. This combination is also useful for soil use.
When you apply Sulfur, try to work it down to about 4 to 6 inches. But if you can't get that done, working it in at least a little bit will likely work just fine. You will likely need to apply some later in the growing season. To make sure your plants are doing OK with regards to Sulfur, look real closely at the green in the plants. If you see a dark, rich green then all is likely well. If the green is light in any degree then you need to add some Sulfur. Sulfur will help your C-3 plants tolerate the heat better and keep them from dying due to heat in the latter parts of summer. The C-4 plants will be able to grow better in the cooler, prime fo the C-3 plants time of the growth cycle, and then allow them to grow better in the heat when the C-4 plants come into their prime growth cycle. Overall you do need Sulfur for almost all aspects of your garden, so seriously consider putting Sulfur to the top of your list of food for your garden. Don't stress over the CAM plants, as they pretty much will govern and march to their own drumbeat. If you just worry about the C-3 and C-4 plants, then the CAM plants will borrow as they need from them. You really shouldn't stress over the amount of Sulfur that you give to your soil. Sulfur will be forgiving and the plants will only take up what they need. IE; they won't gorge on Sulfur.
Also, another aspect that is important and that is most garden plants will need to have the soil pH coming in at around 6.5. By the time you see soil pH hitting the 7.0 mark, you are seriously putting severe limits on the ability of plants to make it. At the same time, if you take the pH down, by the time you get to the 6.0 mark, you begin to put severe limits on what plants can thrive at that level. So you want to strive for the 6.5 pH mark for the overall good of the whole. Sulfur is the best and quickest way to draw the pH to that acceptable level.
That should wrap up the tip of the month regarding Sulfur. May the Sulfur be with you. Until next time, I wish you well in your garden plans. As always if you have questions get with me and we will see what we can come up with.
End of Report.