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paramagnetic rock and other amendments. Experiences?  RSS feed

 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I just got a Reams soil test done, which is specifically designed for organic systems.
Generally good results, but I've decided to bite the bullet and add various things that will have very long-term benefits.
The idea of trucking rock dust across the country to add to my garden makes me feel funny, but it'll hopefully be a one-off.
I have:  paramagnetic rock dust (basalt)
            activated charcoal
            flash calcium that doesn't raise ph
            fancy compost with  a zillion microbeasties and micronutrients
            humic and fulvic acid
Various other mysterious, smelly and expensive things. Anyone used this kind of stuff in the garden? I'm especially curious about the paramagnetic rock.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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When I buy in rock powder I go for stuff that has known micronutrients (greensand), phosphorus (rock phosphate) or potassium (granite dust).  I try to balance Ca/Mg by mixing ag lime and dolomite at a 2:1 ratio.  We have basalt around here, but no-one favors it as a rock powder... lots of Fe and Mg, not an issue in our soils.

Better yet, I like shell and seaweed.

What is a Reams soil test, and what does it test?

 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Hi Paul,  as far as I can see, greensand's not actually used horticulturally over here. I'm pretty sure it exists, but maybe in sub-commercial amounts?
I just went and looked at the labels. Nowhere is the rock labelled as 'basalt', but I'm pretty sure the guy I spoke to said it was and it's called "bas-50' on the label...There's a long list of micronutrients.
I have to be careful as my ph is a bit on the high side and  phosphorus is off the charts. NZ generally has pretty low p levels and this soil's nearly certainly never had synthetic ferts applied so it's a mystery.
I've had a few 'conventional' soil tests done, but the difference between what's in there and what's available made it all a bit pointless as anything beyond fairly basic balances and ratios is beyond me. The Reams test shows what's actually available in the soil. It also focuses on humus/organic matter and other things that many tests aren't that interested in.
Here's a link which should be more informative than me, since I really don't have a clue! http://www.acresusa.com/toolbox/reprints/Feb07_ReamsTesting_andersen.pdf
By the way, if you think the science is dodgy/ it's a crock,  I'd appreciate your feedback. That "a little knowledge" thing is at play here...
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I have always found the AcresUSA/Albrecht Papers party line to be pretty reasonable -- but the devils in the details.  It looks like your approach is ahead of most.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Thanks for the reassurance, I'll just keep at it then
 
Eva Taylor
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Location: eastern panhandle of W.V.
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I too am wondering about the paramagnetic rock dusts and biodynamic farming. It sounds like the two are vital to do together. Leila if you are still around how did things go with all of your additions?
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Eva Taylor wrote:I too am wondering about the paramagnetic rock dusts and biodynamic farming. It sounds like the two are vital to do together. Leila if you are still around how did things go with all of your additions?

I haven't had the soil retested yet, so it's hard to answer. I'll be getting a test mid-spring, when the soil guys have woken up again.
We had a very bad drought this summer, making plant growth was pretty poor. Who knows what things might have been like with a different weather pattern?
I actually just had a big winter clean-out and put down the last of the calcium, activated charcoal and rock dust, along with masses of compost.
By the time the main planting season arrives, hopefully the microbes will have started making nutrients available.
 
Eva Taylor
Posts: 106
Location: eastern panhandle of W.V.
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Leila Rich wrote:
I haven't had the soil retested yet, so it's hard to answer. I'll be getting a test mid-spring, when the soil guys have woken up again.
We had a very bad drought this summer, making plant growth was pretty poor. Who knows what things might have been like with a different weather pattern?
I actually just had a big winter clean-out and put down the last of the calcium, activated charcoal and rock dust, along with masses of compost.
By the time the main planting season arrives, hopefully the microbes will have started making nutrients available.

I'm so glad you replied so quickly! I know without the soil test its hard to know what you have, but have you noticed a reduction in pests or weeds?
Also did you buy the test or send samples away? The testing kits seem so expensive. How did you apply the rock dust? Onto the surface, or incorporate it into your compost?
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Eva Taylor wrote:I know without the soil test its hard to know what you have, but have you noticed a reduction in pests or weeds?
This won't be very helpful, but I haven't had pest problems for a few years. When the garden was new and the soil health and organic matter low I had issues, but not now. It's impossible for me to guess what did what, but I'd say it's a bit of everything. I have no difficult weeds, and areas I want to have weed-free are heavily mulched.
Eva Taylor wrote:Also did you buy the test or send samples away? The testing kits seem so expensive.
I sent it to a lab. I haven't seen kits here, but from what I've read, they're notoriously inaccurate. Lab testing is expensive here, but I think most US state universities have highly subsidised testing available.
Eva Taylor wrote: How did you apply the rock dust? Onto the surface, or incorporate it into your compost?
I just broadcast it, then piled compost and mulch on top. I imagine composting it might make minerals more available, but I have a slow pile at the moment and I think I'm better off passing it through the worms!
 
Eva Taylor
Posts: 106
Location: eastern panhandle of W.V.
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That's so great to hear things going so well before even adding the rock dust! Seems you are at the fine tuning end of your gardening venture! I however am at the very beginning trying to improve all of it and keep the animal pests out also. I have deer and groundhogs here, I hope that they will also leave the garden alone after the soil health is better. Are your gardens fenced? It would be nice to think that if you truly get as close to balanced as you can be, that Mother Nature eases up the the animal destruction as well.
Thank you for your replies! You have been so helpful! New Zealand seems so beautiful, I hope to get there someday!
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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I don't think deer will stay away if your soil is healthier. Just read/ learned about 2 methods. One is to plant an edible hedge around the area you want to grow in, with lots of prickly stuff on the outside and better stuff for you on the inside ( gaia's garden by Toby Hemenway). The other was to put an electric wire around the property, wrap every so many feet with aluminum foil. Every month, or so, spread peanut butter on foil and turn the wire on.... Pretty soon, deer will leave you alone ( geoff lawton)
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Eva Taylor wrote: Are your gardens fenced? It would be nice to think that if you truly get as close to balanced as you can be, that Mother Nature eases up the the animal destruction as well.

I'm afraid I was only meaning 'pests' in terms of insects etc. I think soil health plays a major role in insect pressure, but as Marianne says, a hungry mammal or bird is something else entirely!
I'm in suburbia and while we have (introduced) deer in NZ, they keep to the bush.
I've heard the peanut butter thing is effective, but I have no personal experience with deer.
I think there's several threads about dealing with them, here's one
I definitely think it's worth getting a lab soil test to have an accurate baseline to work from.
 
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