I’ve been using rockdust as part of my soil balancing strategy, as well as an ingredient in my potting mixes. In addition I’ve been mixing rockdust into my poutry food, adding it to my wormeries, and compost heaps, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve been using the rockdust in a liquid suspension, to water my plants, and as a foliar spray.
One of the many books that have influenced me is ‘The Healthy Hunza‘ by J. I Rodale. In it he describes the milky coloured glacial meltwater, full of minute mineral particles, ground from rock by glacial action. (The particles are also known as Rock Flour)
This was described by Howard in ‘An Agricultural Testament’, and is the reason that Howard gives for the health of the crops, and of the people. The crops are irrigated using this mineral rich water, and the people drink the water, and eat the crops.
The glacial milk contains clay sized particles of rock, which give a massive amount of surface area on which soil microbes can eventually work to dissolve these minerals to use in their own bodies. This helps to make the minerals available to plants in an organic form.
Replicating Glacial Milk using Rockdust
I don’t have any glaciers nearby, but the rockdust that I buy contains a really wide range of particle sizes. I added a small amount of rockdust to a jug of water and stirred it hard. Whilst the larger particles settled almost instantly, the water stayed cloudy for a long time, showing that the rockdust contained a lot of tiny particles. I was able to use this liquid to water plants, and as a foliar spray. Whilst using this rockdust ‘suspension’ to water plants may not offer any additional benefits compared with using the dust in a potting mix, the foliar spray can’t really be replicated by throwing dust at plants. The rockdust contains high levels of silica, which is used by plants in building cell walls, and to fight disease. (If you want to read more about silica, try an internet search of ‘silica fo.liar spray’)
Rockdust ‘Milk’ and Compost Tea
To provide a full range of minerals when making Actively Aerated Compost Tea, I usually add liquid kelp. The kelp provides a good range of minerals, as well as a number of other useful compounds. but it’s quite expensive. As the rockdust that I use also contains a wide range of minerals, I may be able to reduce the kelp content, and replace it with my rockdust ‘milk’. The microbes in the compost tea should be able to start digesting the tiny particles of rockdust in the solution, helping to lock them up in their bodies. It also gives surfaces for the microbes to attach themselves to.
Mineral Rich Soil
When I read books like ‘The Healthy Hunza’, or articles suggesting that pests and diseases are the result of unhealthy soil, I wonder what it would be like to grow my food on ‘gritty’, mineral rich soils with far less organic matter than I have now. Would the lower levels of organic matter be so critical if the full spectrum of minerals were available to plants? Would lower levels of Soil Organic Matter create more dependence on Nitrogen fixing bacteria, and would that create a healthier environment? Sadly, I have no way of knowing. What I can do is some simple experiments to look at plants grown in pots with a high level of minerals, and low levels of Organic Matter, to see how they differ from plants grown inconventional potting mixes, and my own mix, which is already more mineral rich than most.