Garden Guides, The Usage of Epsom Salt & Ammonia in Tomato Gardening

The Usage of Epsom Salt & Ammonia in Tomato Gardening

Tomatoes are among the most rewarding vegetables for a home gardener to grow. They taste infinitely better than their grocery store counterparts and require only a little help from you. To boost their growth, flowering and fruit production, try a couple of inexpensive home remedies—Epsom salt and ammonia. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is a nutrient needed for adequate plant growth. It is quickly depleted and often almost absent in Western United States gardens. Ammonia, according to the International Ag Labs, is a natural fertilizer that aids flowering and tomato setting.

Epsom Salt on Tomato Plants

Apply 1/2 cup Epsom salt to the soil when the tomato plant begins to bloom. Hoe it in lightly and water for 10 minutes.

Apply 1 tbsp. Epsom salt per foot of plant height to the soil, wet or dry. Repeat every two weeks during the growing season.

Mix 1 tsp. Epsom salt in a spray bottle with clean water. Spray on leaves to discourage tomato-loving insects.

Ammonia on Tomato Plants

Mix 2 cups vinegar, 1 cup ammonia and 5 gallons of water in a bucket.

Sprinkle lightly over plants when they begin to flower and set fruit.

Repeat the above process every two weeks for six weeks.

Tomato Plants & Epsom Salt

Epsom salt consists simply of magnesium sulfate. Magnesium aids in chlorophyll production in plants. Sulfur gives plants protein and other enzymes necessary for them to grow strong. Sulfur is naturally delivered to plants through rain, but often they need a little boost. Blossom end rot is also a sign. Epsom salt, while a plant less than 12 inches high will do with 1 tbsp. This will keep the foliage green and also increase the thickness of the walls of the fruit, making for a delicious tomato.

The ammonia formula listed is for a large garden with 10 or more tomato plants. Cut the solution by half or even one-fourth if you have a smaller garden.

Homemade Fertilizer With Ammonia

A homemade lawn and garden fertilizer made with ammonia is safe for children, pets and the environment. Making a homemade fertilizer is also an economical alternative to purchasing commercial fertilizers. Ammonia, when used in combination with a few simple household ingredients, yields a vibrantly colored lawn and garden adequately nurtured through the roots from the enhanced soil.

What Ammonia Does

A combination of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms yields an ammonia molecule. With its pure form being an anhydrous gas, it easily mixes with water, but when exposed to air, it easily dissipates into the atmosphere. Ammonia sold for household use is actually an aqueous ammonia solution. The nitrogen richness of ammonia benefits plants. It is nearly harmless when used in moderation and in its diluted form. Ammonia added to the soil becomes a nutrient for the plant’s roots and for soil bacteria, whose proliferation enriches the soil further with nutrients. This promotes healthy root growth and rich, green color. It is also an effective pesticide that controls slugs and undesired insects that damage the vegetation.

With Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate providing magnesium and sulfur to plants and enhances nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus that plants need from the soil. As a lawn feed, it combines with ammonia’s nitrogen properties to fertilize the lawn. Apply it in the spring and fall when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. A spring application stimulates root growth, while the fall application supports the roots’ energy stores for winter dormancy.

Ammonia and Dish Soap

The surfactant properties of dish soap make it an effective soil softener enhancing the soil’s water absorption and retention properties. Some soils, especially when dry, repel water. Dish soap applied to the soil acts as a wetting agent that helps bind the water to the soil. The longer the water binds to soil before running off, the softer and more aerated the soil becomes; an ideal condition for healthy root growth. As stated in the «Using Wetting Agents (Nonionic Surfactants) on Soil» article published by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, J.V. Baird and J.P.

Zublena point out that because of the wetting agent, the soil’s water-retention qualities remain even after the soil dries. Once wet again, the soil still has its improved water-retention properties. The ammonia in the mix penetrates the loose and moist soil, replenishing the plants through the roots. This mixture is beneficial to houseplants, the lawn and outdoor vegetation.


Dilute 1 tbsp. of household-grade ammonia in 1 gallon of water. Transfer this solution to a garden sprayer for treating the lawn and garden. Solutions of one part ammonia with added ingredients such as one part Epsom salt or one part dish soap are also diluted in water, but to 1 qt. Fill a garden sprayer container with the solution and broadcast it across the lawn and garden with the hose.

Treating Common Ammonia Odors In The Garden

Ammonia smell in gardens is a common problem for the home composter. The odor is the result of inefficient breakdown of organic compounds. Ammonia detection in soil is as simple as using your nose, but the cause is a scientific matter. Treatments are easy with a few trick and tips found here.

Composting is a time honored garden tradition and results in rich soil and nutrient density for plants. Ammonia smell in gardens and compost heaps is an indicator of inadequate oxygen for microbial activity. Organic compounds cannot compost without adequate oxygen, but the fix is a simple one by introducing more oxygen to the soil.

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Compost Ammonia Odor

Compost ammonia odor is frequently observed in piles of organic matter which have not been turned. Turning of compost introduces more oxygen to the matter, which in turn enhances the work of the microbes and bacteria that break down the matter. Additionally, compost that is too rich in nitrogen requires air circulation and the introduction of a balancing carbon, such as dry leaves.

Mulch piles that are too moist and do not get air exposure are also prone to such odors. When mulch smells like ammonia, simply turn it frequently and mix in straw, leaf litter or even shredded newspaper. Avoid adding more nitrogen-rich plant matter such as grass clippings until the smell is gone and the pile is balanced.

Compost ammonia odor should dissipate over time with the addition of carbon and frequently moving the pile to add oxygen.

Garden Bed Odors

Purchased mulch and compost may not have been processed fully, leading to anaerobic odors such as ammonia or sulfur. You can use a soil test for ammonia detection in soil, but extreme conditions will be obvious just from the smell. The soil test can indicate if pH is too low, around 2.2 to 3.5, which is harmful to most plants.

This mulch is called sour mulch, and if you spread it around your plants, they will quickly become adversely affected and may die. Rake or dig out any areas where sour mulch has been applied and pile up the bad soil. Add carbon to the mixture weekly and turn the pile frequently to correct the problem.

Treating Common Ammonia Odors

Industrial treatment plants use chemicals to balance bio-solids and composting organic materials. They can introduce oxygen through a forced aeration system. Chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and chlorine are part of professional systems but the average homeowner shouldn’t resort to such measures. Treating common ammonia odors in the home landscape may be done by the addition of carbon or simply applying liberal amounts of water to leach the soil and a lime treatment to increase the soil pH.

Tilling in leaf litter, straw, hay, wood chips and even shredded cardboard will gradually fix the problem when mulch smells like ammonia. Sterilizing the soil also works, by killing off the bacteria, which are releasing the odor as they consume the excess nitrogen in the soil. This is simple to do by covering the affected area with black plastic mulch in the summer. The concentrated solar heat, cooks the soil, killing the bacteria. You will still need to balance the soil with carbon and turn it after the soil cooks for a week or more.

The Effect of Household Ammonia on Plant Growth

The nitrogen in ammonia might make some people think it can double as fertilizer and promote plant growth. However, using household ammonia in the garden does more harm than good. Learning the ins and outs of this chemical and its affect on plant growth should make you think twice about using it as a fertilizer.

Ammonia and Plants

Ammonia is present in soil, water and air, and it is an important source of nitrogen for plants. Nitrogen promotes plant growth and improves fruit and seed production, resulting in a greater yield. It’s also essential for photosynthesis, which is the process in which plants convert light energy into chemical energy. The ammonia that’s present in household cleansers is diluted in water, forming aqueous ammonia, and ammonium and hydroxide ions. Although ammonium ions are effective as fertilizer, the aqueous ammonia is toxic and can damage or kill seedlings.

Ammonia and Soil pH

Soil pH, which can range from zero to 14, determines the availability of nutrients in the soil. A pH lower than 7 indicates acidic soil, a pH of 7 indicates neutral soil, and a pH greater than 7 signifies an alkaline soil. The nutrients in soil with a pH range of 6 to 7 are readily available to most plants.

Upon application, diluted ammonia makes the soil more alkaline. However, over time, which can be as soon as several days, it’s converted to nitrate, making the soil more acid, which isn’t best for all plants and might create an environment in which plants have difficulty getting the nutrients they need. The rate of conversion of ammonia to nitrate depends on the manner in which ammonia is applied to the soil and the amount that’s applied.

Effect of Household Ammonia

A study performed at Miami University compared plants that were watered with a diluted dish soap solution to plants that were watered with a diluted window cleanser solution that contained ammonia. Both solutions eventually killed the plants. The window cleanser slowed down and stunted the growth of the plants and dried out the soil before killing the plants. Ammonia also affects plants by discoloring them and burning their roots.

Risk of Ammonia Injury

Ammonia is most likely to injure plants if you don’t know what you’re doing. Using ammonia is especially risky if you’re unaware of the pH of the soil and water that you’re using and if you don’t know the exact concentration of ammonia that you’re applying. Concentrations as low as 3.5 parts per million are toxic to seedlings. Applying ammonia too close to the plant and not deep enough can result in plant injury. You’ll be better off and more successful if you use a commercial fertilizer to promote plant growth.

10 Household Uses For Ammonia

Ammonia in its normal form is a gas which can be very volatile. Household ammonia, however, is a solution of this gas dissolved in water. This is so that it can be handled with less risk, since inhaling ammonia gas is very hazardous. Ammonia is commonly used in pharmaceuticals and many household cleaners. Even when diluted, this is a strong chemical which is incredibly effective in cleaning. Its potent properties make it an particularly effective in removing dirt and stains from numerous surfaces.

One very important thing to remember when using ammonia to clean at home is to NEVER mix it with bleach. Doing so causes a highly toxic chemical reaction. If you’d like to learn about the 10 household uses for ammonia, keep reading this oneHOWTO article.

While we need to respect the strength of ammonia, it is used because it is a highly effective cleaner, stain-remover and odor-remover. This is why we provide the 10 best household uses for ammonia. They are:

  1. Ammonia uses in the garden
  2. Ammonia as a degreaser
  3. Ammonia as an oven cleaner
  4. Ammonia to clean household surfaces
  5. Ammonia as a tile cleaner
  6. Ammonia to clean wood floors
  7. Ammonia to clean laundry
  8. Ammonia to clean shoes
  9. Ammonia to clean carpets
  10. Ammonia to remove smells
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To see how this can be used in each case, we show you how you can use ammonia solution at home to keep it clean and hygienic. Don’t forget to add any of your own ammonia tips and tricks in the comments at the end.

Ammonia uses in the garden

Ammonia is used in agricultural farming as a great source of nitrogen fertilizer. It is so popular in farming that over 88% of manufactured ammonia is used in agriculture. The type of ammonia used in agricultural fertilizer is anhydrous, which means it contains no water. While this is effective, it is also considered one of the most dangerous chemical compounds to store and is, therefore, unsuitable for domestic use.

However, one of the household ammonia uses we would like to highlight is related to agriculture. If you want a lush green lawn and full bloom in your flowerbeds, household ammonia can be used in the garden. You will need:

  • Add 1 cup of ammonia per 20 gallons of water
  • Add any additional store-bought fertilizer you may like.

You have to be careful with how much you use. Some claim that you will only need 1 drop per plant, so be frugal. Add the ammonia solution to your plants when they look like they may need some help or are dying. The ammonia gives the fertilizer a boost, but it won’t necessarily be able to bring a plant back from the dead.

Ammonia as a degreaser

One of the best known uses for ammonia cleaner is as a degreaser. Ammonia is an effective cleaner when trying to remove stains and grease splatters on the stove, counter-tops, stainless steel surfaces, tiles and other dirty surfaces. One of the main reasons ammonia works so well is that it is relatively streak free.

When using ammonia as a degreaser you should:

  1. Take a suitable bottle (like an empty dishwasher or soda bottle) and fill it up halfway with ammonium hydroxide (Ammonium hydroxide refers to diluted household ammonia).
  2. Fill the rest with warm water and shake well.
  3. You can use this ammonia and water solution directly onto the surface or to soak up dried-up stains.
Just remember not to use ammonia on marble surfaces. For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss, ‘‘Can I use ammonia on stainless steal?’’

Ammonia as an oven cleaner

You can use the same diluted ammonia solution mentioned above to clean your oven. This solution is effective in removing grease stains or other burned food from inside of the oven. These stains are particularly difficult to clean, which is why many people turn to ammonia as a cleaner.

We first recommend that you soften the interior overnight. Then, you will need to soak the racks and grills in the ammonium hydroxide and water solution. So that you know exactly how much to use, we recommend reading our article where we discuss how to use ammonia to clean the oven.

If you’re looking for a more natural and non-toxic alternative, we suggest that you try cleaning the oven with lemon.

Ammonia to clean household surfaces

You can also clean your windows and mirrors with ammonia for exceptional results. The safe ratio for this ammonia solution would be 2 tablespoons of ammonia (ammonium hydroxide) per half gallon of water.

If you’re worried about the dangers of cleaning with ammonia, you can opt to clean your windows with vinegar. As we’ve already mentioned, ammonia is relatively streak free, so it’s a great alternative to get rid of fingerprints on mirrors. You can take a look at more tricks in our article tips for cleaning glass and windows. Make sure that you use the proper cleaning cloths so that you don’t leave marks and make sure to keep any type of cleaning solution out of your eyes.

Ammonia as a tile cleaner

Next in our list of 10 household uses for ammonia, is to use it as a tile cleaner in either the bathroom or kitchen.

Ammonia is an incredibly powerful chemical when trying to get rid of hard stains.

Use a quarter cup of ammonia per gallon of water and scrub the tiles clean of the mildew and mold. This type of cleaning method won’t require daily repetition. To get rid of some of the trickiest stains in the home, read about how to clean tile joints.

Ammonia to clean wood floors

Diluted ammonia with water is also great when wanting to clean wooden floors and furniture. Additionally, it can also be used strip wood and remove furniture polish or paint. For this reason, it’s important that you dilute the ammonia with water to make sure it doesn’t remove any paint or covering you want to keep. This is because the harshness of ammonia can deteriorate sensitive wood.

Ammonia to clean laundry

Ammonia is also incredibly effective in cleaning clothes and removing stains from fabric. Are you wanting to remove wine stains from your clothes? Ammonia diluted in water can help do this. Be careful with delicate material as you do not want to damage the fabric. If you’re wanting to clean delicate fabric like silk or linen, we recommend using a softer cleaning method.

Ammonia to clean shoes

You can also use ammonia to clean and remove dirt from shoes, however make sure to only use this solution on non-washable fabrics. Make a mixture of water, ammonia and soap to clean all types of shoes.

Ammonia to clean carpets

Are you wanting to use ammonia to clean your carpets and rugs? Use a spray bottle to apply the ammonia and water solution to dirty spots and stains on your carpets. The spray bottle will allow the solution to spread lightly and take effect. Don’t use too much or you can end up taking the dye out of the carpet. For this reason, it is always best to err on the side of caution when making up your ammonia solution.

For more specific advice, you can learn how to use ammonia to clean carpets.

Ammonia to remove smells

Ammonia is also very effective in eliminating odors from fabrics. These smells could be those caused by moisture or mold in dishcloths or towels. Add some ammonia to the machine when washing these fabrics to notice the effects. You can also use this product as a fabric softener, due to the fact that it reduces static electricity.

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Dangers of cleaning with ammonia

Now that you know these household ammonia uses to clean, freshen and remove stains, it is important you know to respect this chemical. Ammonia is a powerful chemical which needs to be handled with caution. Always make sure you are using the correct type of ammonia or ammonium hydroxide and mixing it appropriately when using it.

When mixing ammonia, you will need to do it in a well ventilated area. One of the most common mistakes is to lean over the bucket or whatever receptacle you use to make the ammonia solution. The strong ammonia odor can go into your nose and burn your airways. Always keep your face away from it and avoid splashing the ammonia. It is best to use rubber gloves at all times, even when it is a solution.

Additionally, make sure to never mix ammonia with bleach. Also, when using any ammonia cleaning products, make sure to use the appropriate clothing and eye protection to avoid irritation to eyes and skin. When using ammonia, always make sure your house is well ventilated, as it can cause coughing, nausea and shortness of breath.

If you want to read similar articles to 10 Household Uses For Ammonia, we recommend you visit our Home cleaning category.

How to Use Ammonia As a Fertilizer

A lush green lawn that is the envy of the neighborhood is the goal of many homeowners. To accomplish this, regular lawn maintenance including the application of fertilizer is necessary. This can become expensive; however, a primary component of a healthy lawn, nitrogen, can be obtained at a reduced cost. Ammonia (Nh3) is comprised of nitrogen, the stuff that lawns crave. Often applied as ammonium nitrate or urea, household ammonia can also be used to obtain the same results.

Add 1 cup of ammonia to a 1-gallon container. Add additional ingredients as desired as part of your lawn fertilizer mixture. Examples include 1/2 cup liquid lawn food, a can of beer or 1/2 cup of liquid dish detergent to help the liquid fertilizer stick to the vegetation surface.

Pour the ammonia fertilizer mixture into a 20-gallon hose-end sprayer. Place the top on the container, and attach the sprayer to the end of a garden hose.

Turn on the water, and apply the ammonia fertilizer to your entire lawn early in the morning. Repeat the application every three to four weeks.

Things You Will Need

1 can beer (optional)

1/2 cup dish detergent (optional)

1/2 cup liquid lawn food (optional)

20-gallon hose-end sprayer

Apply 2 ounces of the homemade fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Watch the incremental measurement printed on the side of the sprayer, and adjust the speed at which you walk to apply the right amount of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.

NH3 Operator II Competencies

GCAP’s Ammonia Operator II Competencies

Prerequisite: An “Approved” Ammonia Operator I Course

All of this material is covered or introduced to the student at our seminar. Most of this course is running hands on equipment in the lab. This selection of material will allow success in companies training structure and it follows the new IIAR Task Force Guidelines.

Course primary text will be GCAP’s “CRO: Certified Refrigeration Operator; an Advanced Understanding”

Ammonia Operator II


Chapter 1 – Mechanical Integrity

Chapter 2 – Heat Transfer

Chapter 3 – Psychometrics

Chapter 4 – Enthalpy

Chapter 5 – Low Side Vessels

Chapter 6 – Low Side Valves

Chapter 7 – DX Systems

Chapter 8 – Flooded Systems

Chapter 9 – Recirculated Systems

Chapter 10 – Defrost Applications

Chapter 11 – Practice Test

Common Acronyms and Definitions

Quick Reference Formula Sheet

SAT Charts

Closing Thoughts

Detailed Studies in the following subjects with DX liquid feeds

  • Orifices of Expansion Valves
  • Automatic Liquid Feed Controls
  • Hand Feed Controls
  • TXV Feed Controls

    • Forces Involved in Opening / Closing
  • Vessels
  • Phase Seperation
  • Troubleshooting Metering / Expansion valves
  • Top Fed DX systems
  • Bottom Fed DX systems
  • Suction Line Accumulators
  • Flash Gas / Tax Gas
  • Distributers
  • Super Heat Requirements
  • Classifications of Superheat
  • Bulb / Capillary / Power Head
  • Mounting of Bulbs
  • Internally Equalized TXV’s / Externally Equalized TXV’s
  • Float Switches
  • Level Controllers
  • Gas Volume Temperature Comparisons
  • Erratic DX Coils
  • Slopover/ Burping/ Slugging/
  • Advantages / Disadvantages

Detailed Annalist Liquid Feed to Flooded Evaporators

  • Term “Wetted”
  • Gravity Systems
  • Thermosyphon Systems
  • Surge Drums
  • Surface Area Comparison
  • Recirculation Ratio
  • Oil Control
  • Troubleshooting
  • Partially Flooded Systems
  • Requirements
  • Superheat
  • Flash Gas / Tax Gas
  • Liquid Make Up
  • Phase Separation
  • Advantages / Disadvantages

  • Term “Wetted”
  • Liquid Recirculation
  • Pumps

    • Centrifugal
    • Positive Displacement

      • Shaft Seal
      • Semi-Hermetic
      • Hermetic
  • Liquid Make Up
  • Recirculation Ratios
  • Single Pumper Drums
  • Double Pumper Drums
  • CRP Systems
  • Top Fed Overfeed
  • Bottom Fed Overfeed
  • Pump Pressure
  • Pressure Drop
  • Two pipe adjustments
  • Pump Sizing
  • Oil Removal
  • Advantages / Disadvantages

  • Secondary Coolants
  • Advantages / Disadvantages
  • Glycols
  • Brines
  • Calcium Chloride
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Ethylene Glycol
  • Two Pipe Systems
  • Three Pipe Systems
  • Heat Exchangers

    • Shell and Tube
    • Plate
    • Plate and Frame
  • Eutectic Point

  • Thermal Conductivity
  • K Factor
  • U Factor
  • Theoretical Analogy
  • Fouling
  • CFM Calculation
  • HP Calculations
  • Mass Flow Rate Calculations
  • Theoretical Discharge Temperatures
  • Subcooling Effect

  • Simple 3 pressure two stage systems
  • Multi pressured two stage systems
  • Intercoolers
  • Discharge
  • Boosters
  • Efficiency
  • Compression Ratio of multi pressure systems
  • Intermediate Pressure
  • Theory
  • Practical Operations
  • Swing Compressors
  • CO2 Cascade Systems

    • CO2 Cascade Brine
    • CO2 Cascade Compression
    • Application
    • Benefits and Advantages Compared to traditional two stage systems
  • Horsepower Savings Two Stage and Cascade
  • NewTon 3000 Cascade System
  • VFD’s
  • Microprocessors

  • Coil Defrost
  • Moisture / Air Relationship
  • Pump Down
  • Fan Delay
  • Soft Start
  • Bleed
  • Defrost Timings
  • Pressure Equalization
  • Air Defrost
  • Water Defrost
  • Electric Defrost
  • Continuous Defrost
  • Niagra Defrost
  • Hot Gas Defrost
  • Regulator Pressure
  • Consequences of Deviation of Defrost Practices

  • This packet is used in the Ammonia Operator II course for analytical troubleshooting.
  • Area of rectangle / circle
  • Volume of a room / cylinder
  • Brake Horse Power (BHP)
  • Kilowatts (Kw)
  • Power Cost in Dollars
  • HP/TON
  • Kw/TON
  • Heat Transfer Equations

    • Sensible
    • Latent
  • Compression Ratios
  • Vacuum Conversions
  • Saturation Charts
  • Analyze Figure of a Two Stage System
  • Analyze Figure of Top Fed DX Evaporator
  • Analyze Figure of Vessel and Piping
  • Analyze Figure of Forced Draft Evaporative Condenser
  • Analyze 3 way valve with reliefs
  • Analyze Figure of a Pump Package
  • Analyze an Electrical Schematic
  • Analyze all 24 screens from normal to abnormal conditions
  • Analyze MSDS Sheet for Ammonia

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