Remineralization

I’ve been diving into the inter-web trying to glean as much information on soil remineralization as my walnut sized brain can handle.  For the most part I’ve agreed that amendment of soils with a soup of crushed glacial till or volcanic deposits makes a very sound argument.  Soils depleted over years of logging, then grazing with little or no return of any organic material would or should be drained of some of its essential mineral elements.  Trying to place a value on the importance of replenishing those depleted mineral elements is what I’m trying to evaluate.  How important is it to the quality and quantity of our produce. Are we missing out on something in the nutritional value of our veggies?  We’re not going hungry due to the lack of production from or garden,  We have good/bad years for some plantings and rarely have a complete failure that I could even begin to blame on soil fertility.  Most times our failures are due to a gate being left open, forgetting to water something during a prolonged dry spell or an invasion of deer, japanese beetles or whatever plague or extreme weather that may sweep through the area.

Our little garden patch started out with a wispy little layer of  what you might call topsoil covering a thick layer of clay on top of a cap of hardpan, intermingled with an abundant supply of field stone.  We’ve worked hard to build up organic material into the garden and remove the rocks.  I’ve been a composting nut!  I’ve gathered an enormous amount of manures, inedible hays, bags full of leaves and grass clippings from folks in town and I have occasionally been spotted loading brown paper yard refuse bags from my sisters neighbors in the burbs of St. Louis and  liberating them in my compost pile 100 miles to the southwest.

Compost

I try to collect as much compostable materials that I can. We have a compost bucket in the kitchen for all of our waste to return to the pile. We usually don’t keep any livestock year round with the exception of our laying hens and my daughters show pigs, so bedding material isn’t a steady addition to our pile.  When I do clean out the coop it does give a nice little “hot shot” to the pile.

What I’m trying to say is that I try to build our soil through a vigorous composting practice but I’m sure that there is something more that can be done to improve our patch.  I’m not a miserly spendthrift, but I don’t like throwing cash at a perceived problem in hopes of fixing things.  First off, I don’t feel our garden is in need of fixing.  Improving…Yes!

So my question that I’ve been pondering is the value of driving, purchasing, hauling and storing a crushed stone product.  Is this a folly of the foolish gardener or a worthwhile addition to a garden that feeds us.  Am I biting on a fad?

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. Ed said,

    February 5, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    I know what I would do if I were you. I would create a test plot. Plant two rows of something side by side in the same soil and amend one row with your crushed minerals and see what happens. Perhaps this fall you will have an answer to your question.

    If I had to guess, I would say it might affect the plant health and perhaps number of fruits or vegetables you were able to raise on that same area of land but there wouldn’t be a noticeable difference in the taste or health benefits of the fruit or vegetable. If that were the case and you were able to raise enough fruits and vegetables on your plot of land for your consumption, it wouldn’t be worth the cost. It would only be worth it if you couldn’t raise enough to cover your needs.

    • Woody said,

      February 7, 2015 at 6:22 AM

      I’ve yet to decide if I will try any of the product. The closest supplier is 110 miles north and I rarely head that direction. In a majority of my reading the consensus was that river rock screenings would do essentially the same as a mined/crushed/shipped product.

  2. Rich said,

    February 5, 2015 at 12:06 PM

    I’m only vaguely aware of the ideas behind remineralization. I might be wrong, but the way I understand it, you have to balance the ratios between the different minerals to make all the minerals available to the plant, and too much of this mineral can make that mineral available by tying it up in the soil.

    From what I’ve seen, sometimes it can take an awful lot of amendments to reach those desirable ratios so it can be difficult to achieve the perfect soil.

    Before I started applying anything, I’d want to start with a good soil test from a good soil test lab (I use Midwest Laboratories) to get a starting baseline of what mineral ratios my soil actually had.

    Of course, I’d also tend to lean more towards planting more cover crops (to pull minerals up from the subsoil, etc.) and adding some bio-char to my garden soils.

    • Woody said,

      February 7, 2015 at 6:30 AM

      I’ve sent my soil samples into the county extension and paid a little extra for some additional testing on mineral content beyond the normal screening. Two samples, one from our garden, the other from fallow field that hasn’t even received lime. I would think that would give me a fair picture of what I’m working with.

      The bio-char is something I’ve never done with intent to spread the charcoal. Usually a brush pile will get spread after burning with a beautiful stand of grass coming in after. I do burn my straw that I use for mulch in our garden plot.

  3. Bill said,

    February 6, 2015 at 9:40 AM

    I have the same concerns here. I apply limestone if a soil test calls for it, but otherwise, rightly or wrongly, I’ve just been relying on compost and cover cropping to keep/make the soil healthy.

    Some of our gardens are in areas that had been intensively farmed with chemicals for decades. The soil was dead. Our experience has been that in third year after composting, cover cropping and farming them responsibly, those gardens are as productive as any other.

    • Woody said,

      February 7, 2015 at 6:34 AM

      I am just very curious if there would be any added benefit for our garden. We’ve built a beautiful soil with very nice structure and fertility. I ‘m always pondering if there is something natural and cost effective that can be done in addition to my compost addiction.

  4. Leigh said,

    February 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    Remineralizing our soil is near and dear to my heart. After reading Hands-On Agronomy I was pretty much sold on the Albrecht method, so I go with the author’s (Neal Kinsey in Charleston, MO) service and recommendations. Then it’s trying to find the right minerals for the job. I’m in a landscaping ares so I have to send off to Virginia for those. It’s a bit of expense, but I’m convinced it’s the best investment we can make in the place.

  5. Woody said,

    February 9, 2015 at 5:59 PM

    I find it interesting and definitely worth further investigation.


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