Mazlan acquired his love of gardening at a young age, and it has been his passion for over 55 years.
If you are on a tight gardening budget, chicken manure is a good choice as it is one of the better organic fertilizers. It has 2.38% nitrogen, 2.65% phosphorous, 1.76% potassium, and 0.46% magnesium oxide. It works faster than other organic fertilizers. However, chicken manure has lots of "side effects" which are infectious diseases and insect pests.
So, what is the alternative for a cheaper, better and safer organic fertilizer? Monosodium glutamate?
What is Monosodium Glutamate?
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) commonly known as Vetsin is a seasoning and food flavor enhancer very popular in East and South Asia. It is used to enhance the taste of fried rice, fried noodles, soups, sauces, broths, instant noodles and other Chinese dishes.
MSG is available under several trade names and one of the popular brands is Ajinomoto.
What is MSG Made Of?
MSG is made from corn, wheat, tapioca, sugar cane or other food crops that have high starch proteins. This is MSG's main raw material. Through the fermentation process, the sugar and starch are turned into glutamic acid.
Vetsin as Fertilizer
Recently it has grown in popularity and used by gardening enthusiasts, including yours truly, as an alternative plant fertilizer. Probably due to its high content of nitrogen and other minerals. If you are the type that likes to experiment and discover a new way to make organic fertilizer, then you should try Vetsin. Some people also use it as a plant insecticide. I have yet to try this and can't vouch for its effectiveness.
Is MSG Fertilizer Good for Plants?
It is cheap and easily available to garden enthusiasts or farmers that are on a tight gardening budget.
Why is MSG Vetsin Good as a Fertilizer?
Besides nitrogen, MSG also contains a high level of phosphorus, potassium and trace elements such as ammonium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, organic matter and a variety of amino acids which are needed for plant growth.
Nutrients for Plant Growth
Nitrogen helps create food for the plant through photosynthesis.
Phosphates encourage root growth and increase the uptake of other nutrients and are the bloom booster.
Potassium helps your plants grow faster and regulates the metabolic processes required for fruit and seed development.
Organic matter can improve soil and helps in water and nutrient retention. It also promotes beneficial organisms in the soil, hence improving the efficient use of fertilizer.
The amino acid can make the crop robust and improve crop resistance.
Sulfur helps in the soil disinfection function and improves the efficient use of nitrogen.
A Large Amount of MSG Can Kill Your Plant
However, only a fair amount of MSG or vetsin is beneficial as fertilizer. A large amount is not favorable for plant growth due to the sodium content in MSG.
Ajinomoto claimed that the sodium in their product is sodium glutamate and sodium ribonucleotide and not salt as in NaCl.
MSG Effect on Plants
Hence, when you use any MSG or Ajinomoto, your plants grow better with more flowers and fruits. It improves plant nutrition, accelerates growth and strengthens plant's 'antibodies'.
MSG is Bad for Plants
If you googled 'msg as fertilizer', you will find some sites that claimed MSG is bad for plants.
It is mainly targeted at the sodium content in MSG that they cited as 'sodium toxicity'. This leads to leaf burns, scorch and dead tissues mainly on the leaves' outer edges.
In plants that are more resistant to sodium, the leaves do not die but develop a dull hue that doesn't look good as ornamental plants.
However, plants that thrive on sodium as a macronutrient such as coconut trees will benefit from MSG as its fertilizer.
The other side effects of sodium in plants are the dehydrated look. It makes the plant looks sick and it suffers from massic leaf drop. Not a beautiful sight for ornamental plants.
Hence, as previously mentioned, only a fair amount of MSG is beneficial for your plants. Just follow the mix ratio as described below and it should be good to use as a fertilizer.
MSG in Large Scale Agriculture
You may also come across articles on the use of MSG in large-scale farming in the US where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the unrestricted use of MSG as a plant growth and crop yield enhancer. This was way back in 1998.
Hence, US farmers can spray MSG on crops without restriction and with no limit on the amount of MSG.
This stokes a lot of folks.
The issue is on the safety of spraying "processed free glutamic acid" not only on plants but also on the environment.
However, this so-called "free glutamic acid" for large-scale farming is a synthetic product, unlike the MSG that we use in our food (which is processed via the bacterial fermentation of tapioca or similar crops similar to how cheese, yogurt and wine are produced).
This synthetic product also contains other components that are referred to as "impurities."
How to Make Vetsin Fertilizer
Now that we are clear on the differences between MSG for large-scale farming and for the home gardening enthusiasts, let's move on to its safe mix ratio.
For small plants and plants that are less than a year old, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of MSG to 5-liter water (1.32 gallon). Apply once every two weeks.
For bigger plants or plants that are more than a year old, mix 5 tablespoons of MSG to 1-liter (0.26 gallon) water. Apply once every two weeks.
You can use this as foliar spray or apply it directly to the soil. Ideally, use this MSG vetsin fertilizer in the late evening.
Is MSG Good for Orchids?
I have yet to try MSG as an orchid fertilizer but several blog sites claimed that it is beneficial especially to accelerate orchid growth and to produce more flowers. However, it should be applied only to matured orchid plants.
MSG Mix Ratio for Orchids
To prepare the solution, mix 1 teaspoon of monosodium glutamate in 0.26 gallon (1-liter) water and mix it well. Spray to the roots and leaves once a week.
Which MSG to Use?
As mentioned earlier, MSG is available under several trade names. The brand Ajinomoto is the popular choice both as a food flavor enhancer and as an alternative plant fertilizer.
However, it is slightly pricey and I don't use it often. I tried other cheaper brands and it works just as well.
Have You Tried MSG as a Fertilizer?
Have you used Ajinomoto or other brands of MSG or vetsin as a plant fertilizer? Have you also tried it on your orchids?
Do you get good results or it does not work at all?
I'd love to hear about your experience with them. You can share your thoughts in the comments section below. Thank you.
- Effects of different organic fertilizers on soil microbial biomass and peanut yield
- The effects of Monosodium Glutamate as an alternative fertilizer
- Fertilizers from monosodium glutamate waste
- The Benefit of Adding MSG on The Growth of Tomato Plants
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Mazlan
Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on June 05, 2021:
Hi Rawan. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. BTW, have you tried MSG on your plants?
Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 05, 2021:
Thank you for sharing it
Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on June 05, 2021:
Hi Liz. In an Asian kitchen, you are bound to find MSG or monosodium glutamate and someone somewhere somehow had the bright idea that it is also good for plants! Yup, an inexpensive homemade fertilizer. Give it a try and let me know if it works on your plants. Cheers and have a great and safe weekend.
Liz Westwood from UK on June 04, 2021:
This is a very helpful, interesting and well-written article. I had seen MSG as an ingredient, but never considered its use for plants before.