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Mineral replenishment

Madras, OR

Do any of you replenish minerals in the soil in addition to using compost. I am totally organic, but recently began to wonder if I needed to replace minerals after 8 years of growing. Have considered adding Excelerite to each of my 24 beds, every 2-3 years in addition to the compost made up of leaves, grass (organic fertilizers) kitchen waste, fish bones, egg shells, and animal manures. Any comments?

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

If you can find a nearby quarry or gravel pit, they may get rid of rock dust cheaply. The finer, the better, for providing minerals to garden soil. But you probab ly need aq truck to haul it away even if it is free.

Or there may be a nearby yard that sells crushed rock to people who make concrete. To them, the dusty grains or "flour" are a contaminant. For you, the finer the better. But if they sell it, they would probably want to sell you a few cubic yards if they are going to deliver it.

Even "very fine sand" is coarser than you want for this purpose. Also, literal sand, like beach sand, is quartz or silicate and silica, which adds no micro-nutrients. You want rock flour or crushed stone dust.

Where can you buy just a few 50-pound bags of rock dust? A farm supply coop? Maybe a big local nursery ... or they would know where they buy it.

"Azomite" is a trademarked, advertised, fancy form of rock dust sold o0nline and maybe elsewhere. I assume they make an effort to make it from rocks selected for their micro-nutrient content. I don't ev en wnat to think how much it would cost to ship a 50# bag!

You might have to look for an organically-approved liquid concentrate product. There are many soluble fertilizers with micro-nutrients, even bottles containing nothing BUT micro-nutrients. Indoor hydroponic growers are probably the biggest market for those.

Just be sure to dilute it as much as you should, because excesses of some micro-nutrients are toxic. Many would advise a soil test before adding soluble micro-nutrients, so that you never add more than a safe level of an y one of them. In principle, only add what you need.

Or stick to rock dust. Nutrients leach out of rock so slowly that it will be hard to add excess that way.


Helena, MT

Nancy, Corey sums this up nicely here and I'm glad you brought up the subject. Originally I had to remove about ten tons of rock to start my garden here in the rocky valley of Helena, I too have thought about adding crushed rock fines to my outdoor vermicomposting methods. Fortunately we have half a dozen rock quarries within less than a 30 minute drive and they all have crushed rock bins which you can shovel as many buckets as you please for free.

Corey's final statement about excess not being a problem is right on the money. I'm sure that our mico-nutrient rich soil here will deplete itself in just a few years with continuous plantings each season, so I am doing as Corey suggests and start adding crushed rock fines to my outdoor vermicomposting as well as my raised beds and garden rows this next season. I think one other excellent benefit to adding crushed rock fines is improved drainage.

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

I have added minerals to my gardens. Rock dusts would vary in their composition. I used Azomite as I believe it tended to have more of the micro minerals...which is what I wanted it for.

I ordered it delivered by UPS. It cost about as much for delivery as the dust itself cost. There was a dealer listed for 75 miles away and unless I was going by there anyway [I used to go there when my daughter lived up there], I figured it was about as good to pay the delivery.

Washington state has 3 listed dealers for Azomite...Bellingham, Mead, and Vancouver.

Helena, MT

Indy, I also think postal rates are killers for us small gardeners. Although I am tempted to purchase some items besides seed from my gardening catalogs I am sick of paying excessive postal rates, and they have already gone up again. The last time I purchased an item from Growers Supply the shipping charges exceeded my purchase. I learned a hard lesson there. You couldn't begin to ship a five gallon bucket of crushed rock fines. I can barely lift a full bucket into the back of the pickup truck. Just think what the cost of that would be!

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

"I can barely lift a full bucket into the back of the pickup truck. Just think what the cost of that would be!"

That would weigh about 60 pounds........depending on how far UPS [United Parcel Service] has to deliver, it might cost $30
You might read a bit from the link below.

http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010173.hensel.pdf

This message was edited Feb 1, 2013 4:46 PM

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I was trying diatom earth to loosen up my clay ,, all it did was goop harder than before(greensand also) , Came to lava rock the natural type , if it gets in the way of cultivating you can break it up and it still works like heavy granulated sand , and as it changes lots of minerals ,, hopefully good ones !! lol

Helena, MT

Indy, surprising as it may seem it's more like 80 lbs a bucket, but I forgot my buckets are 7 gallons instead of five. Our UPS store here is a major rip off. The store charges about double what the UPS shipping center charges, however the shipping center is only open 2 hours per day and they require you to pre weight everything you ship and fill out this ridiculous form. There is nothing EASY about shipping via UPS here. Tried it once and vowed never again.

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

Well, Where I bought my Azomite, they did the shipping arrangement.

juhur, I have amended my clay loam soil by adding 4 inches deep of local sphagnum peat moss and 3 inches of medium/coarse sand and then dig/till it all 10-12 inches deep. I get the peat moss from a local bog. It is 90% peat moss and 10% black fines which are composted leaves from around the bog. The sand mostly came from Stiers [Anderson]. As soon as I amended, the soil was dream soil.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I have purchased gravel from Stiers before .. Well,, sands heavy ,when I feel a bit better , every thing else you mentioned is done...lol At least I seem to be on the right road ,anyway..
One day lots of good melons lol maybe ,,

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

Instead of wondering, why not have a soil test run and know. That may be cheaper than adding minerals you don't even need. But from what I can read the home tests are all pretty much usless, so if you do one make sure it is a good one. I have not done a soil sample in years, but I just look at the plants and if they look good, then I'm happy. I still wonder like you, but not enough to worry about it.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

A checkerboard is cheaper than a soil test. If you think you need type X soil amendment, buy a small bag and apply just a little to one square in the checkerboard.

If that square is extra-green next year, spread the rest of the bag everywhere. But will you notice when you've added too much?

If you divide the yard into 4 squares, you can test two things: add Y to the east half, and add Z to the north half. If east is greener, you need more Y. If the NE corner looks best, you need both. If the SW corner looks best, you already had too much of both!

I'm sure soil tests are a good idea, but I mostly see prices over $50 so I have never sent for one. Every little bed I've made has wildly different soil. Until I mix all those beds to uniformity, I don't think testing is practical for me.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

When it gets that's price to comparison , I can put a lot of lava rock (minerals) soil grit to loosen , Some green sand only a little as packs ,in my type clay anyway ,
Cost isn't the driving force of my gardening , but everything I could add gets that way!!! lol A small rock grinder and some gravel goes a ways.... conditioner ,loosening , grit , minerals , drainage , Does take a day or two though doesn't it ?
Like a years worth of day or two ,.
My favorite lazy or slow expression .. ""It is not going anywhere and I am not planning too (going anywhere) for a while!"" lol

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I doubt there are home tests that give minerals. Yes the home tests that are out there may not be that great either- Only for pH and NPK.

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

Soils that have been cropped [and many that haven't been] in the Eastern US tend to have minerals leached so that probably some micro elements may be missing. Take Yttrium for example. It isn't known to be a common plant essential, but it is vital for good human health. Many other micros like cesium, cobalt, scandium, iodine, selenium and who knows how many more, are essential for good human health.

That's one reason why I believe in remineralization. There is another reason too.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Like is for a while I had a small gravel grinder(still do) , limestone and other minerals I would rock powder with,,, lava rock ,,,DE contain a lot of minerals , algae from time to time helps , but it is finding a way to let those minerals release to the plants . one substance or another can be difficult , and tests won't always tell you that , only about depletion or if your earth s poison .
It is a good idea based on that last one to test, Where me and Indy are at lead can sometimes be a concern..

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Indy ~ Thanks for that link. It is very informatitve.

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

You are welcome evelyn. I am hoping someone would ask what the other reason is [for mineralizing].

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

I've just been lurking here to learn from the discussion (since I am an organic gardener.)

So Indy, please tell us the other reason for mineralizing.

And are there some colors of granite that are better than others for this purpose? Here in this part of the world we have access to pink granite. I will be collecting some and doing what the article in the link above says (heating the rocks for thirty minutes and then throwing them in water, then crushing with a hammer.) Just wondering if I need to also get some gray or black granite to do this with also to get the full range of minerals.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I don't know about granite, sorry.

I read someone suggest "river rocks" for c rushed stone, because they seemed to have the widest variety of minerals in them. But I would think that glacial drift would be just as varied.

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Okay, guess I need to look it up (or find a geology student....) Sure would be nice to have access to some of that glacial drift.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Yeah, I'm guessing that VERY few glaciers ever reached as far south as Texas!

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Yeah but they did get Greensand and D-earth in Texas , Mineral water some places also!!!

I am where the Trenton field and Illinois Basin join together , Lots of places with Sand and Gravel , just not exactly where I am at!!lol

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Granite counters are all the rage - wish we could get our hands on the dust they must make cutting and polishing them...

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Mineral water

That is very finest grind and most digestible form of rock powder!

>> (heating the rocks for thirty minutes and then throwing them in water, then crushing with a hammer.)

This is off-topic , but I used to live near the remnants of a Colonial lime kiln. It was just hollowed out of a little rocky outcrop or slope with veins of marble. There were broken-up rocks around it where the marble had been mostly chipped out and thrown into the "kiln". I assume the fire was made with wood from the evergreen trees all around.

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

Ok Ladypearl, The other reason for mineralizing besides human health is for plant health. While many 'experts' may claim that only so many minerals are necessary for plant health, it is likely that they don't know what they don't know. I am linking an article.

http://www.acresusa.com/toolbox/reprints/rockdust_apr00.pdf

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Thanks for that article, Indy. Confirms the alledged depleted soil situation we hear about in farmland today. Just too bad we didn't find out about Azomite back before shipping costs became outrageous! Think I'm going to look for local sources of rock dust : ) There's bound to be a quarry in driving distance around here.

Yep, back in the old days they knew how to do things and didn't mess around. (built the kiln right there in the rocks they were turning to lime.)

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

There is another interesting article on the Archived section of Acres USA that deals with sea water. The author says that the sea contains all 92 elements in the right balance and that sea animals and plants are healthier than land animals.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Maybe kelp meal is worth the $$$

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Does greensand contain kelp?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I don't think so, I think the sand is green due to minerals. I only said kelp because being seaweed maybe it has lots of minerals.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Greensand is ancient low sea swamp bottom like the Bayou . where grasses and bamboo and caught the sea sand and mineral deposits ,It 'gunks'in my clay and I still have to put roughage in with it , but it works .
I am not sure why it is greenish in color ...

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

I found this information which explains what greensand is and why it is green.

http://www.ehow.com/info_8769445_greensand-fertilizer.html

Now my question is of the people posting here who have actually added minerals to their soil, (long enough ago for it to take affect) have you noticed any improvement in your harvest? If so in what crops and in what way was it improved?
There are getting to be so many things out there suggested for the organic gardener to add to his garden I am beginning to think a lot of it is just to make up for the commercial loss of business from chemical gardening . Anyone seeing any noticable results of these things over just compost or manure?

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I just started last year , the two tomato plants that I placed the Greensand with at planting time (and some a little while before ) were the only ones that did well last season
OF course one of those I mulched with coir .. . I would say some it had made some difference , I don't know for how much difference , but those two plants were the only plants that produced anything worth while at all ..
Everything was under severe heat stress in 115 degree temperature ,with drought , even if you watered it was bad for the plants.. I am happy with the result I got , to each their own though! ^_^
Melons hat had Greensand next to them died anyway though (I am lousy at growing melons)

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

juhur7,
What made you decide to use greensand? I guess my question really is, were you trying to remedy a specific problem? Do you think it helped with that?

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

At first I thought I might use that to loosen up some soil ,wrong I was , then later I noticed fruit production problems , low numbers of tomatoes and some others real low!!
My conclusion being about depleted soil , and reading about that I came across articles about green sand with others , decided to try Greensand for the first time last fall and a cupful to start the season
Another to your question is it is suppose to last 3 to 5 years or more (not commercially) only for home gardens . that is pretty good if it does (I ,of course, am still learning if it does or not)
Yes it helped with those two tomatoes and I put some near a couple of watermelons , two of the vines died ,another in a different location grew a melon the size of a large dinner plate (sugar melon) .
i am lousy at growing melons and always have been but that was the first good melon I ever got from a control test , In some of the plants branching and ability to withstand hot temperatures and a blazing sun I noticed a definite difference.

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

I used a moderate amount of remineralization 2 or 3 years ago. I used it on all the gardens so there are no comparison plots. All things did well before and all things do well now.

Madras, OR

i used to use green sand but have not been able to get it recently so now using Excelerite which I found on sale at local garden store. Looks like pot growing supplies lol, but they have everything 20% off in the winter.

My garden produces heavily, in part because of compost and in part I believe because of a history or remineralizing, but wanted to know what others thought

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I found a decent deal on the 40 pd bags on e-bay a few years ago ,(season before last) The little: ""stuff"" is all getting rather pricey .. I got those there for the cost of some 8 or 10 pd. bags .
All in how you view what you enjoy or like ,isn't it/?
Only a little chat at you ,for now..

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

We have greensand at our nursery, but I have to order Azomite from Brent & Becky's Bulbs.

http://www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com



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