Foliage Spray Boosts Your Garden's Health and Productivity

Foliage spray can boost your garden's overall health and productivity. Includes advice on fast action in using foliage spray, when to use foliar fertilizers and foliage spray recipes.

| May/June 1988

  • Gardener's Supply Co. foliar spray
    Gardener's Supply Co.: The professional Garden Sprayer.
  • 111-059-01.jpg
    Plant uptake of nutrients can be 100% to 900% more effective when the foods are applied to leaves rather than to soil.
  • Smith & Hawken foliar spray
    Smith & Hawken: The Berthoud Sprayer.

  • Gardener's Supply Co. foliar spray
  • 111-059-01.jpg
  • Smith & Hawken foliar spray

Nutrient leaf foliage spray can boost you garden's health and productivity. Experiment: You'll see the difference in your crops yourself! 

Foliage Spray Boosts Your Garden's Health and Productivity

Roots are leaves in the ground, and leaves are roots in the air.
—Alan Chadwick

As I wind my way down to our California hillside garden, I stop for a moment and examine a gray strand of Spanish moss that hangs from an oak branch over the path. This strange growth is not really a moss, nor is it a parasite leeching off its woody host. Instead, it's a plant without roots; one that feeds solely by absorbing nutrients dissolved in fog or rainwater through its clusters of threadlike stems.

Of course, our normal house and garden plants do have well-developed root systems for gathering nutrients from soil. Yet, like Spanish moss, they also have the capacity to feed through above ground surfaces. Stems, buds, twigs and, most especially, leaves will readily absorb nutrients that are applied in a solution. So, in a real sense, leaves are roots in the air.

Foliar feeding is the practice of applying liquid fertilizers to plant leaves. This relatively new idea is fast becoming widespread. I recently worked at an organic research garden and minifarm. We relied on the soil's microbial activity to supply crop nutrients, but that process was slowed by the area's long, cool springs. So we began foliage spray feeding to stimulate plant growth early in the growing season.

The technique has many other applications. Some market gardeners now spray nutrients on fruit-setting crops like tomatoes and cucumbers to increase yields and on such leafy greens as lettuce and spinach to speed maturity and increase storage life. European grape growers use foliar feeds in their vineyards, and Chinese farmers similarly treat heading grain crops to increase yields. In our country, turf managers spray golf courses to help grass green rapidly, and some large commercial farmers use foliar feeds to prevent frost and drought damage. Other farmers spray regularly with liquid kelp to reduce aphid and red spider mite attacks or to control botrytis on strawberries and powdery mildew on rutabagas.

Veggie Gram
8/7/2011 7:13:11 PM

I find your gardening articles very helpful. I am a relatively new gardener and I need all the help I can get. I just downloaded your gardening App., and it's terrific!

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