Image by Arria Belli
By Amy Grant
Foliar feeding with calcium (the application of calcium rich fertilizer to the plants leaves) may make the difference between a bumper crop of tomatoes to blossom end rot, or gorgeous Granny Smith apples to bitter ones. Let’s learn more about making and using a calcium foliar spray on plants.
Why Use Homemade Calcium Rich Foliar Spray?
Calcium foliar spray lends necessary calcium to the plant, preventing leaf necrosis, short brown roots, fungal issues, weak stems and stunted growth (damping off). Making calcium spray for plants will increase cell division, an important component, especially in those rapid growers such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn.
While it is true that acidic soils have a reduced amount of calcium compared to more alkaline soils, pH is not a true reflection of the necessity for foliar feeding with calcium but may be used as a general guideline.
Homemade Calcium Rich Foliar Spray
While commercial calcium foliar sprays may be purchased, it may be less expensive and just as easy to make a homemade calcium rich foliar spray with ingredients already in the home or garden. If you are experiencing any of the plant symptoms above or have had your soil’s pH tested and it’s deficient in calcium, now is a good time to learn how to make your own calcium fertilizer.
Foliar Feeding with Calcium Rich Eggshells
Plants require a ratio of calcium and magnesium; when one goes up, the other goes down. Utilizing your compost, which is generally rich in calcium or can be amended with the addition of lime or eggshells, is one way to increase the calcium level in growing plants. Another way to accomplish this goal is by making calcium spray for plants with eggshells.
To make calcium spray for plants with eggshells, boil 20 eggs in a pan covered with 1 gallon of water. Bring to a rolling boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool for 24 hours. Strain the water of shell fragments and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Another way to make homemade calcium rich foliar spray is by filling a gallon jar with water and eggshells. Steep for one month, allowing the eggshells to dissolve and filter their essential nutrients into the liquid. To create your calcium foliar spray, mix 1 cup of the resulting solution with 1 quart of water and transfer to a spray bottle. This homemade calcium rich foliar spray is also rife with nitrogen and magnesium, phosphorus and collagen, which are all essential nutrients for healthy growth.
Foliar Feeding with Calcium Rich Seaweed
Collect the seaweed (if legal to do so where you are) or buy at the garden store and rinse thoroughly. Chop up the seaweed and cover with 2 gallons of water in a bucket. Cover loosely, ferment for a few weeks, and then strain. Dilute 2/3 cup to one gallon of water to make a calcium foliar spray.
How to Make Your Own Calcium Fertilizer Out of Chamomile
Chamomile contains sources of calcium, potash and sulfur, and as such is good for preventing damping off and many other fungal issues. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over ¼ cup chamomile blossoms (or you can use chamomile tea). Let steep until cool, strain and place in spray bottle. This foliar solution will keep for one week.
Other Methods for Making Calcium Spray for Plants
Great for any number of things, Epsom salts contain magnesium and sulfur, and where there’s magnesium there is certainly a correlation to calcium. The magnesium content aids the plant in utilizing other nutrients, such as calcium, more effectively. Plants, such as roses, tomatoes and peppers, which require higher amounts of magnesium, benefit the most from this spray. The general recipe for using Epsom salt as a calcium foliar spray is 2 tbsp. salts to 1 gallon of water, but for the aforementioned, cut the Epsom salt to 1 tbsp to 1 gallon of water.
Antitranspirants can also be used in the amount of ½ tsp to 8 ounces of skim milk (or equal amount of prepared powdered milk) for foliar feeding with calcium. Antitranspirants can be purchased via a garden center and are usually made from natural oils such as those from pine trees. Be sure to flush the sprayer out with water when done.
And last but not least, I previously mentioned using one’s compost to enrich soils with nutrients. Compost tea can be made with one part of mature compost to two parts of water (this can be done with mulched weeds, herbs or pond weeds too). Let sit for about a week or two and then strain and dilute with water until it looks like a weak cup o’ tea. This makes a fine method of foliar feeding with calcium.
BEFORE USING ANY HOMEMADE MIX: It should be noted that anytime you use a home mix, you should always test it out on a small portion of the plant first to make sure that it will not harm the plant. Also, avoid using any bleach-based soaps or detergents on plants since this can be harmful to them. In addition, it is important that a home mixture never be applied to any plant on a hot or brightly sunny day, as this will quickly lead to burning of the plant and its ultimate demise.